Do You Believe in Karma?
By Paul Myerberg // Nov 1, 2011
I don’t want to say it. I don’t want to say it because it’s a bit ridiculous, unless you believe in that sort of thing. But the idea was floated about after Wisconsin’s second straight heartbreaking loss, with Ohio State’s late heave joining Michigan State’s desperation Hail Mary: karma. The Badgers, and Bret Bielema in particular, were getting their comeuppance for the various forms of unwritten-rule dastardly deeds a season ago. Do you buy that?
Among the malfeasances? There was Wisconsin going for two against Minnesota when ahead 41-19 with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter. For that, Bielema was chastised by then-Minnesota coach Tim Brewster at midfield and by the media in the week or so that followed.
There’s running up the score then there’s really running up the score, such as many felt Wisconsin did in last year’s 83-20 win against Indiana. The Badgers did attempt only three passes in the fourth quarter, even if one was a 74-yard touchdown pass from Jon Budmayr to Jared Abbrederis. But 83 points? The Badgers had to be running it up, many felt.
There may be a God, but there are no football gods. I promise you that. There is no karma in football. I’m pretty sure of that. But…
I can’t remember another nationally-recognized program that has suffered two such debilitating losses in back-to-back weeks. Losing once, such as the Badgers did against Michigan State, was karma enough, in my mind — if such a thing exists, mind you.
Losing twice, with the second loss nearly as painful as the first? It may have been more painful, in fact: Braxton Miller completed seven passes all night, doing more damage with his legs, but his fluttering 40-yard heave with 20 seconds left broke the Badgers’ hearts in a way Kirk Cousins never could.
So long, Rose Bowl. Not officially… yet. But you need a magnifying glass to find Wisconsin’s road to the Big Ten title game; those at-large dreams are yes, officially over. The Badgers need to win out, beating Penn State head-to-head, and would need the Nittany Lions to lose at least once in other conference action.
The Badgers need to win out and have Ohio State lose at least once the rest of the way. It doesn’t sound like much, but consider that Penn State is already 5-0 in the Big Ten, remember, and that defense is as good as it gets. And the Buckeyes have two things on their side: one, that they own the head-to-head tiebreaker, and two, they continue to improve on a weekly basis.
So maybe you don’t need a magnifying glass — you do need a map, however. More than anything, you need a rational explanation as to how a team can go from the national title driver’s seat to successive gut-punch losses to behind the eight ball in the Rose Bowl chase. Is this just college football at its most random?
These losses do happen. They don’t often happen in back-to-back weeks, but they do happen. And sometimes, though not often, they happen to the same team. And karma? Ask Bob Stoops and Oklahoma about karma: in 2008, his Sooners threw early, late and often in scoring an N.C.A.A.-record 716 points.
Then came 2009: injuries before the season, in the season opener and throughout. Karma, perhaps? Depends if you believe. But like Wisconsin over the last two weeks, Oklahoma’s unforeseeable turn of events couldn’t be explained.
So maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s wrong place, wrong time — times two. Maybe it’s just bad luck? And maybe, just maybe, it’s a matter of a team that plays one way at home and another on the road. That seems like the most logical solution. But karma… you almost need to believe that there’s a higher power governing college football’s rights and wrongs.
And if there is, can He take a glance at the B.C.S.?
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Tags: Bob Stoops, Braxton Miller, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Rose Bowl, Wisconsin
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