Trailing by 9 points heading into the fourth quarter, University of Wisconsin football fans weren’t giving hopes up on a Big Ten title.

And then after closing the gap to 3 midway through the quarter, fans seemed reinvigorated after trailing the Ohio State Buckeyes the entire game, often by multiple scores.

But fans like Stefan Pietrzak, 26, of Madison, said they weren’t surprised the Badgers made it close.

“They’ve been a second-half team all season,” he said.

Although the Badgers did close the gap and made the game close, they couldn’t finish and lost 27-21, leaving fans disappointed after losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship.

Fans had high hopes heading into the game. A win essentially guaranteed the team a shot at the national title. A loss would likely mean the team would play in a lesser bowl game, a disappointment for some fans after maintaining an undefeated season — until Saturday.

From UW-Madison’s Union South to the bars and restaurants of State Street, throngs of Badger fans draped in red and white gear crowded around TVs Saturday night to hopefully watch the team win the Big Ten title and likely secure a spot in the four-team national championship playoffs.

Groans, cheers and more

While fans throughout Madison bit their nails and clapped and cheered when the Badgers scored or completed good plays, the groans from turnovers and Buckeye scores outnumbered those in the first half, with more clapping and cheers in the last, exciting quarter.

After getting closer in the fourth quarter, the energy in one State Street bar, Buck and Badger Northwoods Lodge, picked up after the Badgers closed the gap to 4 points. But in the end, they still fell short.

“It stinks,” said 26-year-old Zac Swider. “They were looking good.”

Swider just moved to Madison and said he has become a Badger fan and was hoping they would win.

Despite the loss, some fans held out hope that they would be one of the four teams selected to play for the national championship. Others said they’ll be selected to play in a good bowl game and will be pulling for them no matter what.

Although he wanted the Badgers to win, Pietrzak said it’s been a successful season and wants the team to win its next game, no matter what the stakes.

“Hopefully they win that one,” he said. “I was hoping they’d get to the playoffs.

For Columbus native and new Madison resident Christi Binkley, 22, the outcome was a win-win. She said she went to Ohio State but recently moved to Madison, so she was cheering for both teams.

“I’ve been playing it safe and saying I win either way,” she said. “I feel good.”

Still, for Pietrzak, a Wisconsin native, the loss stings. But, he is pleased with how the season ended.

“They’re 12-1,” he said. “You can’t get upset.”


Chris Aadland is a reporting intern for the Wisconsin State Journal.