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Time runs out on Wisconsin in 45-38 Rose Bowl loss

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BETH HARRIS
January 3, 2012
— In a season of last-second stunners, Wisconsin ran out of time to try one of its own.

The ninth-ranked Badgers lost to No. 6 Oregon 45-38 on Monday, with the game ending on a final-play review that went against them, just as it did in a loss at Michigan State that spoiled their undefeated start to the season.


With 2 seconds remaining, the Badgers needed more time to set up a desperation play. But superstar quarterback Russell Wilson took too long to spike the ball, and his team was left standing around waiting while the referees checked to see if the clock had indeed run out.


It had, ending a season that came up a few plays short and dashing the Badgers' hopes of avenging last year's three-point loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl.


"I'm kind of tired of tears of sadness," coach Bret Bielema said. "I wanted to come out here and experience tears of joy."


The Badgers and the Ducks hooked up in a high-powered offensive duel that produced 83 points, the most combined scoring in the 98-year history of the game. But Wisconsin fumbled away a chance to tie it in the closing minutes, leaving the Badgers a frustrated bunch once again.


They were blowing through the opposition early in the season, looking like a serious national title contender, until losing consecutive road games to Michigan State and Ohio State in the closing seconds.


Then the Badgers rallied in the fourth quarter of the Big Ten title game to beat Michigan State and earn their fifth trip to Pasadena since 1994. They held five leads against the Ducks, who caught up every time before dealing Wisconsin (11-3) a third agonizing loss.


"It just makes it that much more gut-wrenching," Bielema said.


Wilson added, "It's pretty crazy how each one of them panned out."


On the Badgers' final drive, Wilson moved them to the Oregon 25, but there were 2 seconds left and no timeouts.


"I didn't think there was any way that two full seconds ran off the clock there," said Wilson, who passed for 296 yards and two TDs. "It would have been nice to have a chance there. With 1 second left, I think we could have capitalized there."


Wilson set the NCAA record for single-season pass efficiency rating at 191.78, bettering the old mark of 186.0 by Colt Brennan in 2006. He also became the first Wisconsin quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards in a season.


Wisconsin had two drives to tie it after Oregon kicked a field goal with 6:50 to play, but Jared Abbrederis fumbled near the Oregon sideline after making a long catch. Oregon's Michael Clay recovered with 4:06 left.


That video review went the Ducks' way, too.


"I have to be more careful with the ball," said Abbrederis, who made a TD catch on the opening drive. "They made a big play. I can't dwell on the negative. We're all human. This will make me better."


Montee Ball's 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was his 39th of the season, tying the NCAA record set by Barry Sanders in 1988. He finished with 164 yards on 64 carries. He plans to decide in the next couple days whether he'll return for his senior season.


"If I decide to come back, I'll make sure I carry forward what I did this season to next season," he said.


Wilson's future lies in the pros. He chose Wisconsin to play out his final season of eligibility after graduating from North Carolina State.


"Every single day I've cherished and every single moment is truly special," he said. "To lose the way we did is only going to make me stronger in the future and help me figure out something else down the road. Maybe win a Super Bowl. You never know."



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