The questioner gave Troy Fumagalli a chance to opt out of giving an honest answer during the Big Ten championship game teleconference, but the Wisconsin tight end couldn’t tell a lie.

Does Fumagalli still think about a 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the 2014 conference championship game? Or was that a file-and-forget type game?

Fumagalli, a fifth-year senior, responded like the man who always has taken on all comers.

“It’s something I keep in the back of my mind," he said. “It’s not brought up in team meetings or settings like that. It’s a little motivational tool I keep in the back of my mind."

He later said the focus going into the conference championship game against Ohio State on Saturday night in Indianapolis is about the present.

Fumagalli is the same player who gambled on his ability by passing up firm offers from several Mid-American Conference teams and trusting Wisconsin’s word that he eventually would be put on scholarship after being a grayshirt. That happened before the 2015 season.

That confidence was evident when he played sports as a child despite not having a left index finger. The effects of amniotic band syndrome, in which fibrous amniotic bands wrap around limbs, fingers or toes and cut off circulation in the womb, necessitated amputation of the underdeveloped finger shortly after birth.

The remaining four fingers are scarred from surgery that ensured proper circulation.

“I was born with it, so it’s second nature to me (to play this way)," Fumagalli said.

His father, Doug, who played football at Holy Cross, said Troy is a natural pass catcher.

“You could basically throw a football anywhere to him," he has said. “He catches it with one hand. On some of those things, you can’t work at it. You either have it or not. He has just had it."

Doug Fumagalli said Troy has never been self-conscious.

Older brother Drew said, “I marvel at this mental approach to the whole thing."

Fumagalli is one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end. He has 38 receptions for 471 yards and one touchdown. In 2016, he caught 47 passes for 580 yards and two touchdowns and was rated the fourth-best NFL draft prospect among tight ends by Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN if he didn’t return to Wisconsin.

There was a rapid response from Fumagalli when asked about his success on third down.

“Just win," he said. “The coaches give me a bunch of freedom out there and that gives me the best advantage I can have. I expect to win. I want to make big plays for (my teammates)."

Left tackle Michael Deiter said Fumagalli is a perfect teammate.

“Troy is just an awesome guy, first and foremost," Deiter said. “He is a guy who just works. ... With his situation (lacking a finger) he has done just a fantastic job of not listening to anything and trusting in his confidence and talent and making himself the best player he possible can be. He is super smart. It’s not surprised that he is the player he is."

It following a family tradition for Fumagalli to play in college. Drew, 29, played baseball at Dayton. Brother Ross, 27, was a linebacker at Dayton.

“It was huge just being able to develop under my brothers growing up," he said.

As for that 59-0 loss, Fumagalli said the healing began when the Badgers defeated Auburn in the Outback Bowl that season.

“The biggest thing is the culture around here," he said. “You come in with the lunch pail mentality, coming to work each day."