Sunday, September 30, 2007

Badgers winning ugly?

What a day yesterday in college football. I almost think that too many top 10 teams lost for the Badgers to move up much in the standings, if that's possible. We'll see.

At least they won, which is more than Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia, Texas, and Rutgers can say, not to mention Clemson and Oregon. Did they win ugly, as so many college football experts predicted leading up to the MSU game? Should it matter?

Herbstreit - who is having a bad year as an analyst, in my book - said USC won ugly last night and wouldn't have them #1 ... even after they won in a hostile environment against a team he and Musberger repeatedly praised for its improvement. Herby, in his infinite wisdom, is ranking Oregon fifth; apparently Cal is the second coming of the '70s Steelers and losing to them close at home merits a six-spot bump in the rankings.

I would argue that yesterday was not an ugly win for the Badgers, and that most of the 14 straight during this terrific straight have not been ugly. To me, ugly is turning the ball over five times and committing a ton of mental errors against a subpar team and still winning, or sleepwalking and playing down to the level of the opponent. That didn't happen yesterday. Here's my assessment of the winning streak, in rough chronological order.

2006
Indiana: Pretty
Northwestern: Pretty
Minnesota: Pretty
Purdue: Pretty
Illinois: Ugly - probably should have lost that one
Penn State: Neither - we went toe to toe with a great defense/bad offense and did what we had to do to win
Iowa: Neither - too many fumbles, but a great win to break a bad streak in a hostile environment
Buffalo: Ugly - thank God I slept through the second half of that one
Arkansas: Neither - could be considered ugly, but Arkansas had a damn good defense that had a good gameplan; calling that win ugly would discredit the Hogs

2007
Washington State: Pretty - offense played great
UNLV: Ugly
Citadel: Neither - If we had left the starters in the final would have been 56-21, and no one would have been talking
Iowa: Ugly - Too many three-and-outs, and several key defensive breakdowns
Michigan State: Neither

So my tally is 5-5-4, Pretty-Neither-Ugly. In fairness, there were very ugly parts of the WSU, Citadel, and MSU games. So I guess the critics are not wrong in this case. But it doesn't matter, 14-0 is the more important number, no matter how we got there.

And a little about the picture: no, it is not a reference to "winning ugly." We took this last week at a pumpkin patch, and my mom said "Andy, that would be perfect for your Christmas card!" True ... if Andy sent Christmas cards.

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