Wisconsin's senior class had an opportunity to tie the all-time record for most wins in a four-year span with a win over Penn State on Saturday afternoon. Instead of feeling fulfilled and happy, the senior class watched on as Penn State carved up the Badger defense and offensive lines en route to a 31-24 victory.
Unfortunately, this is a group who has experienced the bitterness of close defeats seemingly as much as they've experienced the highs of amazing victories.
For every Big Ten championship there's a Hail Mary loss or last-second clock issue to bring them right back down to earth. For the 39 wins this group has, its few losses have been really difficult to take.
In fact, of the 14 losses this group has had beginning in 2010, not a single one of them has been by more than 10 points and only one of them have been by more than a touchdown.
That loss was all the way back on October 2, 2010 when UW went down 34-24 at Michigan State. Since then it's been a story of what if's and could've been's for this senior class.
On Saturday the Badgers had an opportunity to put itself and the seniors in position for ultimate redemption. A win and an Ohio State Big Ten Championship would've cemented Wisconsin's position to make a BCS bowl game for the fourth year in a row.
Except, it was Penn State that appeared ready to play and ready to take advantage of its opportunity. With the sanctions facing the Nittany Lions it was freshman Christian Hackenberg and a stout defensive line that impressed the onlookers from the Orange Bowl.
Gary Andersen on missing the BCS: "The way we played and the way I coached today, we didn't deserve it." #Badgers— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) December 1, 2013
You can lay blame on Joel Stave, or the early game play-calling. You could point to a lack of a pass rush on the other side of the ball. At the end of the day, this was about the team.
Wisconsin, not one single player, lost the football game and its chances at a BCS bowl game.
After the game though, coach Gary Andersen made it very clear that this loss was unacceptable and losing has no place in the Badgers culture.
Gary Andersen: "It's a tough loss. Losing is unacceptable. If you accept it, you don't belong at Wisconsin." #Badgers— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) December 1, 2013
It's up to this group of seniors to stop the trend of bitter defeats though and it will likely have its opportunity on New Year's Day, just not the game they were hoping to play in.
For a group that has done so much winning it would be a shame to go out in such a bitter way.