Road win over Rutgers huge for Wisconsin Badgers’ late-season push

It’s hard not to feel good after a 52-7 win against a fellow Big Ten team, especially when you played the way the Badgers did in the win. However, don’t expect Wisconsin to rest on its laurels from that game for long.

That’s because Wisconsin faces a road game, and last time anyone checked the Badgers haven’t exactly fared well when traveling away from the confines of Camp Randall Stadium. See, with the Badgers holding a 5-2 overall record it’s easy to remember that UW has failed to win a game not played in front of a home crowd this season.

First it was the four-point loss in a “neutral site” game against LSU to start the season, and then there was the loss that no one on the team or in the fanbase will forget — a seven-point setback against Big Ten West rival Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

Sense a common theme for Wisconsin? We all know that losing means a close game for Wisconsin, as 19 of its last 20 losses have come by 10 points or less. Furthermore, 16 or those 19 losses have come by a touchdown or less.

The other common factor? Of those 19 losses by 10 points or less, 15 of them have come on the road or in a bowl game. On the flipside, Wisconsin has won by 10 points or less in just four road or neutral site contests over that same time frame.

It all adds up to a Badger team that can’t get in to a close contest against Rutgers or anyone else on the road.

Wisconsin is just 17-16 in road games or neutral site games since the 2009 season as well. Further underscoring the importance of winning this game to keep pace in the Big Ten West division.

However, don’t expect the Badger players to go in to this game thinking about those numbers. Some actually relish the challenge of shutting up a large crowd cheering against them.

“I love playing on the road,” senior linebacker Marcus Trotter said to Evan Flood of Badger247. “I love home, it’s always good to play in front of the fans, but I love to be the away team and silence the crowd. A lot of our guys love it because it presents a challenge in that environment where people doubt us and we can show them differently.”

Winning at home can guarantee a winning record, but as the Badgers enter November still in the thick of the Big Ten West race they need to prove winning on the road can also be part of the equation.

Having three of the final five games in the regular season on the road makes winning this first one vitally important. It’s a message not lost on the team or the coaching staff, who are looking at how it prepares to help turn around the road woes as of late.

For Wisconsin, there is no magic formula to winning over losing those close games on the road. It’s all about doing the simple things in the week leading up to the game.

“The key for us is to have the ability to prepare correctly,” said head coach Gary Andersen at Monday’s press conference. “I think we prepared very well for the road games before. I felt like we were ready to play. We just haven’t won on the road so that’s a big thing for us to be able to get on it and win a football game.”

Doing it against an opponent and in a stadium few coaches or players are familiar with would go a long way to proving the Badgers are a true contender in the Big Ten West.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com