Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh, we're playing the Illini on Saturday. How droll.

Perhaps you're a little worried about the Fighting Illini. Perhaps you flipped over to their game against Penn State during commercials last weekend and noticed that they were giving the Nittany Lions a scare. And perhaps you noticed that the final score did not reflect the uphill battle that JoePa and his crew had to endure for over 58 minutes.

Well, I'm here to tell you that there is nothing at all to worry about. Illinois has a rising star at quarterback, the mobile and elusive Juice Williams, and most of the time that would be a source of concern for the Badgers. But here's the thing; the guy's not much of a passer; he's completing barely 40% of the passes he throws, and last week he was a meager 13-of-33 against Penn State. When facing a defense that recently rendered Curtis Painter and friends dazzlingly ineffective, it's not unreasonable to expect a similar performance through the air this weekend. When it becomes apparent that UW isn't going to allow Juice to move his team down the field by passing, the game will be over; a team that relies on the running of a mobile quarterback and that doesn't have a passing attack is one that that Badgers are going to be able to smother.

I won't even get into Wisconsin's offense. The passing game has come together, and the Illini won't be able to stop Hill. And if you're not convinced of why the Badgers will win, keep in mind that this is the team that:

* was shut out by Rutgers
* lost to Syracuse and Ohio
* was beaten by a two-score margin by a Penn State that had 188 total yards

This is not a good team. Badgers 45, Illini 17

With that out of the way, we can focus on much more important things, such as cheerleaders. Specifically Ms. Ashley Pringle, who is featured by Sports Illustrated on Campus as their Cheerleader of the Week. She seems to be a pretty sharp girl, although her love of "Grey's Anatomy" and the Chicago Bears runs counter to that idea.

Meanwhile, the football team is getting all kinds of media love right now. Dave Revsine says that the Buckeyes are lucky to miss the Badgers this year over at, which is a high compliment. has a feature on our new favorite bruiser, and Pat Fiutak says that the Badgers will be the "hot" sleeper pick of 2007. Maybe Pat doesn't realize that John Stocco will not be here next year, but the fact that the Badgers remain on the national radar while the story of the year is #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan says a lot about where this team is.

In other news, infamous throat-stomper Robert Reynolds is wanted by the police (quelle surprise!); there's a rematch of last year's national championship hockey game at the Kohl Center this weekend; the UNLV Rebels' home field has been declared Camp Randall West; and Joe Thomas is good.

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Monday, October 23, 2006


Or, the Blogpoll voters get it when the AP and Coaches' Poll voters don't:

There are several rankings already posted for Week 9 of the Blogpoll. Here's where the few who've submitted their ballots rank the Badgers:

11 (that's mine)

That's an average ranking of 15 thus far. Keep it up, voters! Rate the Badgers highly and look brilliant when they finish 11-1 (or 10-2).

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My turn to pick on Dienhart

When it comes to cleaning up after dopes who need to be put in their places, I'll never be capable of doling out the verbal punishment like Brian at MGoBlog, but I'll be giving it the ol' college try this morning.

So, Sporting News morlock Tom Dienhart has eloquently decided that the Big Ten "ain't that good. He poses 25 questions after last Saturday's action (most of them, elementary; the rest, needless), and number six on his list is:

6. Is it time to apologize to the ACC and Big 12 for calling them the worst conferences in the nation? I think so. The Big Ten looks mighty putrid, save for Ohio State and Michigan. Yes, I know all about Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State. And, I'm here to tell ya: They ain't that good.

First, it's a mistake to group Penn State with Wisconsin and Iowa. I've been advocating that UW is the clear #3 team in the league, and Iowa looked pathetic in its loss to Indiana and overmatched against Michigan, but the Badgers and the Hawkeyes will settle things on the field of play at the end of the season. However, to call Wisconsin "ain't that good" is wilfully ignorant, which appears to be Dienhart's MO anyway. OK, so Purdue's not an impressive team. But they had the Big Ten's most powerful offense going into Saturday, and the Badgers not only kept them out of the end zone, but they only let them get the ball through the uprights ONCE! And just ask every rushing defense in the Big Ten (besides Michigan's, the NUMBER ONE defense in the nation) what they think about PJ Hill. In Tom Dienhart's world, he "ain't that good."

What's most bizarre about this is that question number six directly follows this one:

5. Are we sure Ohio State is the best team in the nation? Gosh, I'm thinking more and more that the top team may be Michigan. Does that excite you, Big Blue Boy? Sure it does.

You're thinking that after the Wolverines beat Iowa, a team that you specifically called out as "ain't that good?" I realize it's tough to come up with 25 questions, but at least space them out such that the juxtaposition of any two causes minds to boggle at your simplistic views.

Thanks to the Journal-Sentinel's Dave Heller and his fantastic blog for pointing this out. Heller's entry is worth a read. He surveys the AP poll voters and finds that a couple of them are voting Wisconsin in the top ten. I will take that as vindication for my own, seemingly homer-based views on where the Badgers rank. They're a good team, and if this wasn't 2006, they'd be the toast of the conference.

But let's finish up with a few easy answers to Dienhart's questions:

7. Will Nebraska EVER get over the hump under Bill Callahan?

No. Callahan is making things too complicated. In college football, complexity = death. See also: the spread offense after three or four years, Michigan's defense under Jim Herrmann. Callahan needs to run a college offense in a college program, not an NFL scheme.

10. How loudly is Big East commish Mike Tranghese laughing? His league has three unbeaten teams (West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers) and perhaps the most exciting conference race in the nation.

11. Speaking of the Big East, could there ever be a greater injustice if West Virginia or Louisville goes unbeaten and gets passed over for the national championship game by a one-loss team from another "glamour" league?

You're the dumbest person anywhere who gets paid to write about college football. Nobody west of the Alleghenies cares about the Big East, save for a few folks scattered around Kentucky. Thank goodness Louisville, West Virginia, and Rutgers all play one another. I'm hoping each team wins once so we can set aside any "controversy" that might linger from an undefeated Big East school getting shut out of the title game. If you think that the offenses of these teams could keep them in a game against USC, Texas, Florida, Auburn, Clemson, or even Wisconsin or Iowa -- teams that have similarly-powerful offenses but also play some, y'know, defense -- you're stone-cold crazy. Both Louisville and West Virginia eventually outscored Syracuse by a respectable margin, but they let the Orange(men) hang around for two or three full quarters. Syracuse is not a good team. It would be an injustice if these teams MADE it to the championship game, not if they were kept out.

12. Was I the only guy who was grateful to go to bed on Saturday night knowing Stony Brook beat Sacred Heart? Thanks, ESPN ticker!

I'm anti-mid-major (don't believe me? Check out where I rank undefeated Boise State) and I don't really care about college football outside of Division IA, but you know what? Some people do. People attend these schools, root for their teams, and like to know how they're doing. What an asinine thing to pick on.

Plus, don't you just hear this shrill, wheedling tone when you read this guy's commentary? Pinch your nose and say, "Thanks, ESPN ticker!" This is how I hear it.

14. Was I the only guy on the globe hoping like heck Duke was gonna pull out a victory vs. Miami? Ah, come on, admit it. It's OK. It's Miami.

Dude, EVERYONE was pulling for this. If you don't know that, you're probably using your thumb to take the pulse of the college football fans of America.

19. Am I the only guy who wondered why Washington didn't go for the two-point conversion -- and the win -- after scoring that touchdown with no time on the clock at Cal? You have your foe on its heels, you're on the road playing with a backup quarterback who already has tossed four picks … Geesh, I don't know.

We don't have ties anymore. I agree with this call if we're not in the overtime era -- play to win! -- but I think you have to count on your team to win in OT.

23. Did you notice Eastern Michigan got its first victory of the season? Uh, probably not. I did, and I'm happy. Eagles head coach Jeff Genyk is one of the sport's good guys who deserves better.

This from the guy who won't abide a ticker mention of Stony Brook and Sacred Heart.

25. Has anyone seen Trev Alberts? I miss the big pompous fella.

Can you tell me what color this kettle is? At least Trev was high-profile when he was a fountain of arrogant drivel.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

BlogPoll Ballot Draft

Let me know where I went wrong. Opinions accepted for the next 48 hours or so.

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Southern Cal 1
4 Texas 1
5 Auburn 1
6 Florida 1
7 Clemson 2
8 California 3
9 Tennessee 1
10 Arkansas 1
11 Wisconsin 1
12 LSU 2
13 Louisville 3
14 Notre Dame 1
15 Rutgers 2
16 West Virginia --
17 Boston College 3
18 Wake Forest 1
19 Georgia Tech 6
20 Missouri 6
21 Nebraska --
22 Oklahoma 2
23 Texas A&M 2
24 Boise State 2
25 Washington State 1

Dropped Out: Oregon (#18), Pittsburgh (#23).

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Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3

Excellent game yesterday. The Badgers have a few areas that need work, but all in all, yesterday's effort was amazing. Let's leave the numbers to Jeff Potrykus:

The Boilermakers (5-3, 2-2) entered the game tied for 17th nationally in scoring at 33.1 points per game, with 30 touchdowns in seven games. They had scored at least 10 points in 35 consecutive games and had scored in double figures 113 times in Joe Tiller's 117 previous games as Purdue coach.

UW's defense, which has grown more confident, assignment-sure and aggressive with each week this season, stopped the Boilermakers 10 times in 11 possessions and limited them to a season-low 286 yards, 185.7 yards below their per-game average. Purdue came in No. 1 in the Big Ten in third-down conversions (49.5%) but went 3 for 14 (21.4%) against UW and 0 for 3 on fourth-down tries.

Add that to an offensive display including another 161 yards by PJ Hill and 201 yards passing from John Stocco, and you can see what the Badgers have become.

The conversation in the Big Ten is dominated by and defined by Ohio State and Michigan. And that's fine. That's how it should be; both teams look unstoppable, they're both undefeated, and the biggest rivalry in college football might just be getting its biggest chapter ever on November 18.

Still, give the Badgers some love! They give up 3 points to a team that hasn't scored fewer than 17 all season, and the coaches and media STILL have them ranked below Boise State and Rutgers? Pathetic.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Making sense of Purdue

Really briefly here ...

So, we're going on the road, heading to West Lafayette, ready to take on Purdue. 5-2 Purdue, even, so they've shaken off the dust of the abysmal season they had last year and started winning again.

But this will not be shades of 2004. This will not be the defensive chess match ending in a glorious fumble and recovery. It's destined to be Shootout City. We all know what PJ Hill and the Badgers have been up to, but Purdue is getting its first shot at national exposure on ESPN and is bringing in an offense that has scored under 30 points four times this season. They're averaging close to 500 yards per game and over 320 of those are coming through the air.

What Purdue lacks is defense of any kind. Their defense might actually be worse than Minnesota's. The Boilermakers have surrendered an embarrassing number of points to some pretty embarrassing teams. D-IAA Indiana State scored thirty-freaking-five points on Purdue. Miami of Ohio banged in 31, and Ball State (lowly, lowly Ball State) managed 28.

What this boils down to is Wisconsin scoring on all but one or two of their possessions. The Boilermakers have a chance of keeping the score respectable if the Badgers' defensive secondary doesn't show up. But they will not be able to stop Hill, they won't win the turnover battle, and they'll lose the game.

Maybe I'll look stupid, but I'm calling it Wisconsin 45, Purdue 24.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Pay no mind to that 6-1 Big Ten team

EDIT: BlogPoll votes update. Explanations below. Still 12.5 hours to go before the ballot goes final.


BlogPoll voters, allow me to exhort you: be unto the Badgers as the national voters. Yea, in their wisdom, the AP and the Coaches have seen fit to rank the Badgers at #21 and #22, respectively. This is a position that suits the Badgers, a 6-1 team that has played one bad half of football all year.

Yeah, you could point at PJ Hill and exclaim, "this man is second in the NCAA in rushing yardage, gaining over 1000 yards and creating 11 scores, and there are still six games to go!" Or you could look at their record and say, "Why, they're already bowl eligible, and they still have to play five more regular-season games!" Or maybe you might notice that Wisconsin is leading the Big Ten in scoring, garnering 33.9 points per game. You could even look at the fact that UW is only allowing 12.7 points per game, and that the only time they ceded over 20 points was when they visited what the AP poll is calling the #2 team in the nation.

But why would you do that? Surely, the AP has it right; the Badgers, at #21, don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Boise States and Rutgerses of the worlds. They simply don't have the marquee losses like Oregon (by 21 to Cal) and Notre Dame (by 26 to Michigan ... the Badgers only have a 14-point loss upon which to hang their hats!) And you certainly shouldn't rank Wisconsin higher than Iowa ... after all, they lost to Indiana, and we only beat the Hoosiers by five touchdowns.

So, BlogPoll voters, don't waste your credibility; do the right thing and follow the lead of the brilliant voters in the AP and Coaches polls.

Here are my rankings, FWIW. Point out my mistakes ... EDIT: Mistakes have been pointed out. I have come around to the idea that LSU is not top ten material, but that forced me to put a very non-top-ten-worthy team, Louisville, in their stead. This displeases me, but whatever. I also dropped the Badgers one spot, but that's as low as I'm going. Reasoning: I think the Badgers would beat everyone below them. Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and West Virginia would get chewed up and spit out by PJ Hill, and the defense would bring the pain on Quinn, bottle up Johnson, and stone Slaton.

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Texas 4
4 Southern Cal 1
5 California 4
6 Auburn 10
7 Florida 4
8 Tennessee 2
9 Clemson 2
10 Louisville 2
11 Arkansas 4
12 Wisconsin 7
13 Georgia Tech 1
14 LSU 4
15 Notre Dame 5
16 West Virginia 12
17 Rutgers 4
18 Oregon 7
19 Wake Forest 7
20 Boston College 6
21 Nebraska 1
22 Boise State 2
23 Pittsburgh 3
24 Oklahoma 2
25 Texas A&M 1

Dropped Out: Georgia (#13), Iowa (#14), Missouri (#17), Virginia Tech (#23), North Carolina State (#24).

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I have just one question to axe you

How many m's are in "dominated?" Is it one, or zero? Can I exclude the m? Because the m's I saw on Saturday weren't doing much of anything. I figure their presence was superfluous.

How about the n's? Is the word spelled doMINNation? Are there two n's?

On Saturday, Minnesota's football team went the way its academic reputation, admissions standards, campus atmosphere, and location do when compared to the University of Wisconsin: on the losing end of a ridiculously one-sided battle.

Obviously, it was nice to see everything come together for the Badgers. PJ Hill was his usual badass self, turning in another 150+ yard effort and finding the end zone twice. John Stocco was on the freakin' money with FOUR touchdown passes. I know that the Gophers don't have a secondary, but the fact that receivers were (a) catching the ball and (b) making it to the end zone is very, very, very encouraging. The only negatives were the blocked extra point that got returned for two points, and the fact that the axe was already sitting on the Wisconsin sideline so the linemen didn't have to rush over and take it from the stoopid Gophers.

And that's not to mention the defense. Jack Ikegwuonu had an insane game, setting the tone by running back an Amir Pinnix fumble for a score when the game was barely a minute old. The fumble was caused by DT Jason Chapman, who was a monster all day long. He sacked Cupito twice, which is applause-worthy. The Badger Herald has a great article about the defensive duo here.

I was impressed by our tight ends, Crooks and Beckum, and Stocco's poise. What a fantastic all-around effort, and how especially sweet that it came in the form of the obliteration of this team's main rival.

Plus, now the Badgers are bowl eligible, which is a nice bonus. More thoughts later, but the great thing to consider now is that we have five weeks to climb the bowl ladder, with home games against Illinois, Buffalo, and Penn State (now featuring two dead quarterbacks), and away games against hapless Purdue and the not-as-good-as-Indiana Iowa Hawkeyes.

If they take care of business and a couple bounces go against the Wolverines or Buckeyes, and this team could be looking at a trip to Pasadena ...

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Am I back?

Oh. Oh, yes. And let us speak not of my travels, but of the Badgers.

Which, of course, I am fully unprepared to do at this juncture. Turns out the international media, much like the American media, do not care much about the doings of our intrepid Badgers. But let me just say that I am happy to see that Wisconsin is 5-1 and has, in the past two weeks, thoroughly destroyed two teams that were marked for thorough destruction.

I'd like to thank Nicole for filling in extremely capably. Read her non-Badger thoughts at Cute Sports.

Since I'm so woefully in the dark about the on-field doings of the Badger football team (last I saw, they were up 28-0 on Indiana), let's focus on an extraordinarily silly drama that is playing itself out in the student media: the Chancellor has found something amiss with the band! The band members aren't sure what it is, but it may involve foul language and/or the consumption of liquor! I am scandalized! More on this as it develops.

Also, a Badger disco king at the Michigan game caused Daily Cardinal writer Ryan Reszel to see the light about older fans:

Consider this: In the past 13 years, UW has had two losing seasons. From 1964-1992, they had six winning seasons.

How many of today’s students would have stuck around through the winless seasons of ’67 and ’68. Who among the “road warriors” in Ann Arbor could have endured four consecutive four-win years in the 1970s?

So next time you’re tempted to yell at the “old people,” stop and think. Haven’t they earned the right to sit during a game, to be unrealistically optimistic, to have their own disco dance party in a hotel bar?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Blog Poll

I'll admit to having no idea what to do with this week's poll. I haven't seen a top 25 this screwy in a long time. The AP has two two-loss teams in the rankings. Most years were worried about having too many great teams in the polls. This year we've only got a few great teams and then a lot of mediocre ones. There's been a lot of shakeup in college football - lots of upsets and lots of disappointments.

This is the best I could come up with:

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan 1
3 Florida 2
4 West Virginia 5
5 Southern Cal 1
6 Tennessee 5
7 Texas 1
8 Louisville 1
9 California 5
10 Notre Dame 5
11 Clemson 1
12 Georgia Tech 6
13 Georgia --
14 Iowa 3
15 Arkansas 11
16 Auburn 14
17 Missouri 4
18 LSU 12
19 Wisconsin 1
20 Boise State 2
21 Rutgers 2
22 Nebraska 2
23 Virginia Tech 2
24 North Carolina State 2
25 Oregon 15

Dropped Out: Oklahoma (#16), Washington (#23).