Wisconsin now must pick up the pieces — and quickly — after its upset loss at the hands of Illinois on Saturday.

The Badgers were seemingly on track to head into their showdown at Ohio State this week with College Football Playoff chances on the line in a battle of unbeatens in Columbus. Instead, Lovie Smith earned his signature win at Illinois and rattled the Big Ten standings along the way.

Now what?

What the Badgers need to do is forget about everything that happened in Champaign.

The Ohio State team that Wisconsin is set to face is arguably the most complete team in the country. The Buckeyes easily defeated Northwestern 52-3 in Evanston on Friday night and enter as 13.5-point favorites for the tilt at the Horseshoe.

Through seven games this fall, the Buckeyes are winning by an average of over 40 points per contest. Quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins lead a loaded offense, which will really challenge linebacker Chris Orr and coordinator Jim Leonhard’s defense, while Ohio State’s ‘D’ is much improved and more aggressive this season.

It certainly will be a tall task for the Badgers to steal a game at the ‘Shoe. But this is still the same team that hadn’t trailed all season until Illinois kicked its game-winning field goal. It’s still the same squad that hadn’t allowed a first-half touchdown all season until this past Saturday. And it’s the same group of Badgers that pitched four shutouts this year.

Head coach Paul Chryst’s job is simple: brush aside the Illini and sell his team on the idea that they can win in a tough environment on the road.

Against Illinois, Wisconsin was playing away from home for the first time since its season opener against South Florida. The Badgers turned the ball over three times after having five in the first six games. Their last two drives against the Illini ended in giveaways. Sloppy football. Perhaps they became too comfortable playing at Camp Randall.

Leading 23-14 with an opportunity to put the game on ice, Jonathan Taylor coughed it up inside the Illinois 20-yard line. The star running back had 10 lost fumbles in his first two seasons but had only fumbled once in 2019 and it was not lost. Quarterback Jack Coan then had his pass intercepted near midfield with 2:32 remaining, and it set up the Illini game-winner.

Taylor must not dwell on the turnover, especially against a Buckeyes front seven that will be dialed in all day. This is still the same player who eclipsed 5,000 career rushing yards in the loss to the Illini. And Coan, who has only thrown two interceptions through seven games, must not dwell on his mistake because he has not faced a secondary as talented as the one Ohio State will field on Saturday.

The Badgers also can ill afford to come up empty when scoring chances arise. They reached the red zone five times against the Illini but scored only two touchdowns. They also missed a 37-yard field goal.

It was a game filled with mistakes, and beating Ohio State will require the Badgers’ best effort in all three phases.

While a little bit of shine may have been taken off of the Badgers-Buckeyes clash this Saturday following Wisconsin’s loss to the Illini, this still shapes up as one of the Big Ten’s best games of the year. Ohio State has eyes on the CFP, while the Badgers still have a ton to play for as well.

Wisconsin is ranked No. 13 this week in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and can get back into the national picture with a win. It also needs to keep pace with Minnesota in the West division, as the Gophers look like they could be 8-0 heading into their showdown at home against Penn State in a few weeks.

Illinois fans will be talking about the win over Wisconsin for a long time. But, for the Badgers, it is imperative that they move on and focus on the next task at hand: limiting the amount of explosive plays from the Buckeyes offense and sustaining drives against a much-improved OSU defense.

If Chryst can effectively get his team to re-focus after the loss to the Illini, Big Ten fans should be treated to one heck of a game in Columbus this week.