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The Morning After: Wisconsin

The scribes & tweets have a certain tone after the Huskers lost last night in Madison.

Nebraska v Wisconsin Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald: In Huskers house of pain, we see a light come on

This was the kind of pain that makes you walk with purpose, quickly, angrily, to the locker room. This was the kind of pain that reads like a sign that says, “Get out of my way or I will run you over.”

This was the pain of missed opportunity, the kind you dread, because you wake up in January or February and say, “How did we lose that game?”

Oh, man. How did the Huskers lose this incredible, valiant duel of fists with Wisconsin? Finally, they had them, those stinking Badgers, and they let them get away.

That will make it worse. This was the effort of the year — if not the last few years — by Nebraska, and that only makes the pain worse.

But you know what’s coming, right?

No, not the dreaded “Moral Victory” call. Nobody’s in the mood for that.

But there’s also a thing called “Growth in defeat.”

We might have seen that here on Saturday night for a team that lost its first game of 2016 but may have gained so much more.

Steve Sipple, Lincoln Journal-Star: Loss stings, but Huskers show sure signs of growth

As jubilant Wisconsin football players rushed the field after their overtime triumph, Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong walked toward the locker room with his head held high.

You never question his effort or will to win.

Then, in the postgame news conference, he said something that reasonable folks could question.

"At the end of the day, the better team won ..." he said.

I wonder about that. It's impossible not to wonder, which is why Nebraska's first loss of the season had to feel like a gut-punch. The Huskers were this close to putting a stranglehold on first place in the Big Ten West Division and squelching doubts about their worthiness as a top-10 team. They were this close to taking down a nemesis -- the hard-punching Badgers -- before a raucous crowd of 80,833 at Camp Randall Stadium.

"I will say everything I know about our team is confirmed," said Nebraska second-year coach Mike Riley, whose seventh-ranked team dropped to 7-1 (4-1 Big Ten). "They'll continue to fight."

Tom Oates, Wisconsin State-Journal: Wisconsin sets up path to Big Ten title game after dispatching rival Nebraska

To the surprise of many, 11th-ranked UW and seventh-ranked Nebraska had emerged as the favorites in the Big Ten's West Division. Prior to Saturday's game, the Badgers had gone 5-2 against a daunting schedule and Nebraska had reversed all those close calls from last season to start out 7-0. Those unexpected developments turned their showdown into the game of the year in the division.

What ensued showed how evenly matched the teams are and how much promise the rivalry holds. After a 60-minute tug-of-war along both lines of scrimmage, the Badgers and Cornhuskers went into overtime before Dare Ogunbowale's 11-yard touchdown run and a timely defensive stand gave UW a 23-17 victory. It was a huge win, one that in all likelihood landed UW in the driver's seat in the Big Ten West.

There is no way to understate the importance of the hard-fought victory. Amazingly, it was the Badgers' fifth game against a team ranked in the top 10 and they became the first Big Ten team since Michigan in 2003 to beat three top-10 teams in one regular season.

Jake Kocorowski, Bucky’s 5th Quarter: Wisconsin defeats Nebraska in overtime thriller

It was another electric atmosphere at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday night, another overtime thriller, but this time the home team prevailed.

The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers defeated the No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers 23-17 after redshirt senior running back Dare Ogunbowale scored on an 11-yard touchdown run in overtime. Redshirt sophomore safety D’Cota Dixon broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone to secure the victory.

Ogunbowale carried the Wisconsin offense, gaining 120 yards on 11 carries. On the evening, the Badgers rushed for 223 yards, though they passed for only 114 between the combo of Alex Hornibrook and Bart Houston at quarterback.

Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald: Huskers suffer first loss, but also take step forward

On the same turf where Gerry and the Huskers were downright humiliated two years ago — a blowout that prompted the termination of their beloved head coach — Nebraska left Camp Randall stronger than it arrived.

The Huskers got beat, but they aren’t broken or bitter. They’re itching to get back in the arena.

“They know that they could’ve won that game,” defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. “We’re going into another great environment next week. I think what will really help the whole team … is to go into Ohio State and beat Ohio State.”

That idea would’ve been a pipe dream most of the past 15 years. But you get the sense it’s possible now. If you’re a Husker fan, you wake up Sunday morning with an ache in your gut, the pain of an opportunity missed. That’s a good thing. It sure beats the shame of another lopsided loss.