- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Most coaches preach the 24-hour rule after games, allowing their players to celebrate or mourn a result for a day before moving on to the next opponent.
But how exactly is Wisconsin supposed to follow that rule after a 32-30 loss at Arizona State in which a massive officiating screwup cost them the chance at victory? Head coach Gary Andersen admitted Tuesday that he was having a tough time putting that one in the rearview mirror.
"To me, it’s the game that never ended,” he said on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. “I don’t care what anybody says about that. That’s how I feel.
"It’s a tough one for me, because at the end of the day, I’ve heard all of the human element involved and it’s this and that, but it’s really not in this case. It’s more than that. It’s a bigger deal than that."
Andersen and the Badgers may never forget the Desert Debacle, but they know it's time to go forward. They discussed it at a team meeting on Monday and then turned their attention to this week's home game against Purdue, the first Big Ten contest of the season. There was no apparent hangover during practice on Monday, which Andersen described as crisp and clean.
"It's something you've got to let go," senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis told ESPN.com. "Obviously, you can kind of take an edge from that game and use it throughout the season [as motivation]. But there's nothing we can do about it now, so there's no reason to dwell upon it. "
The Arizona State loss was a gut punch unlike any other. But as luck or more likely a lack thereof would have it, Wisconsin veteran players have been through a slew of tough losses during their careers, including the Hail Mary at Michigan State in 2011, the Braxton Miller miracle a week later and the 2012 Rose Bowl loss to Oregon in which Russell Wilson couldn't get off a final snap. The Badgers' last 11 losses have come by a touchdown or less, and they dropped three in overtime last season.
Seniors like Abbrederis would rather not have those painful memories, but it's not like last week's loss was a foreign feeling.
"I don't necessarily think it gets any easier the more you go through it," Abbrederis said. "You hope you don't go through those types of games. But when you've been there before, you kind of know how it goes. So I think we'll be able to move on."
While Andersen said last week's outcome gave him a chance to teach the team about "life lessons," he knows he has a seasoned group.
"Sometimes you go into a place and you have to help the kids learn how to win," he said. "But this team, having gone through tightly-contested wins and tightly-contested losses, I think it does help them to avoid a hangover the next week."
Another thing that helps is conference play begins on Saturday. The Badgers have no time to feel sorry for themselves if they want to chase another Big Ten championship and a possible fourth straight Rose Bowl.
"Every game matters, but these games really matter for where we want to be," Abbrederis said. "We're not going to write the season off because of last week. Our goals are all still ahead of us."