The University of Wisconsin football team was left with more questions than answers as it was digesting what happened Saturday night.
The Badgers landed big blows early against Ohio State at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Field, taking a 21-7 lead into halftime of the Big Ten Championship Game. But injuries depleted the defense, and the offense ran out of gas — the Buckeyes scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to come away with a 34-21 win and claim their third consecutive conference title.
That left the Badgers wondering a couple things:
What went wrong after halftime? Why couldn't they find the same level of success moving the ball?
They'll break down the tape and try to figure those answers out for themselves, but they got the answer to the biggest question on their mind Sunday afternoon — the Badgers are Rose Bowl bound.
UW stayed at No. 8 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, good enough to earn the Big Ten's bid to the Rose Bowl, where the team will take on No. 6 Oregon. The game is a rematch of the 2012 Rose Bowl, when the Russell Wilson-led Badgers fell to the Ducks 45-38.
"It was late at night when you start thinking about what was going to happen next. We're thrilled," said UW coach Paul Chryst, who had just landed after a flight when he learned the Badgers were in the Rose Bowl. "Playing against Oregon, that's a big deal."
The Badgers kept their No. 8 ranking despite losing to the Buckeyes and stayed two spots ahead of No. 10 Penn State, which was crucial to getting the Rose Bowl bid over the two-loss Nittany Lions.
A key piece to the Badgers' resume that gave them an edge was the teams' outcomes at No. 18 Minnesota. The Gophers took down Penn State 31-26 on Nov. 9, while the Badgers throttled Minnesota 38-17 in the final week of the regular season.
Taylor to play
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor said he plans to play in the Badgers' bowl game before the junior announces whether he will enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
"I played with these guys this season to earn the right to have a bowl game," Taylor told reporters after the Badgers' 34-21 loss to Ohio State. "Especially after today, I want to help these guys finish it out right."
Taylor is projected to be a late-first or second-round pick by most draft analysts and is widely expected to forgo his senior year to enter the NFL.
Taylor rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown against the Buckeyes on Saturday, but managed just 13 yards on seven carries in the second half. However, he still became only the seventh player in FBS history to reach 6,000 career rushing yards.
If Taylor does play in Wisconsin's bowl game, he will enter it with 6,080 career yards. He joined former Badger Ron Dayne (7,125 career yards) in the 6,000-yard club, giving Wisconsin the only school with two players on the list.