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Buckeyes next for battered Badgers

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — Coach Bret Bielema hasn’t had to dig deep often in the last two seasons at No. 12 Wisconsin to find the right words to share with players after a loss.

It happened came Sunday, the day after a last-second, 37-31 loss at Michigan State that sent the Badgers back to Madison on a long, mostly silent flight. Bielema said he is confident the Badgers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) will regroup nicely when they hit the road for a Saturday night game at Ohio State (4-3, 1-2).

He says he told his players they should never “get used to this feeling. This feeling should hurt.”

“There’s not a lot of history to go back on,” Bielema said, “But again, I think the biggest thing is: What kind of kids you have in your program and what kind of character do you have? And what are they willing to sacrifice to make it not happen again?”

Quarterback Russell Wilson was listening closely, and in his role as co-captain, will stress maintaining a positive attitude to teammates. Against Michigan State, Wilson said he was bolstered by the fact the Badgers rallied to tie the game at 31 prior to the 44-yard touchdown catch as time expired that sealed the Spartans’ victory.

“In terms of regrouping, I think the main thing is staying positive,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of great opportunities for us and we have a great opportunity in playing Ohio State at Ohio State. It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s one of the great places to play in the country, and it’s going to be a great environment.”

Bielema reiterated Monday he would use the same strategy after using three timeouts in the final 79 seconds against Michigan State. Bielema has been scrutinized – and criticized by some observers – for his game strategy, but he said he was playing to get the ball back with time to get senior kicker Philip Welch on the field to attempt a field goal for the win.

“I thought if they were trying to go into overtime in any way, shape or form, that I wanted to get the ball back,” Bielema said. “We have the No. 1 offense in the country. We’ve got a quarterback who I’ve seen in four, maybe even five of our first (six) games, score at the end of a half.

“Phil Welch had hit a 50-plus yarder going that direction in pregame warm-ups. So if there was any way I could get the ball back I wanted to do that. So if there was any way I could get the ball back I wanted to do that.”

Instead, Kirk Cousins drove the Spartans 78 yards for the winning score on the final play of the game.