Saturday, November 24, 2007

Darren McFadden for Heisman, more Badger-Gopher thoughts

A month or so ago I jinxed Rashard Mendenhall by trumpeting his Heisman Trophy worthiness, and this week I did it to Glenn Dorsey. By Glenn was hurt and didn't do much yesterday as LSU became the latest top-ranked team to lose.

So now I'm plugging Darren McFadden. How big was he yesterday? Four touchdowns, 200-plus yards rushing, a man among boys against a talented defense.

If I had to bet my mortgage on who wins, I'd put it on Tim Tebow, who has had a fantastic season, but McFadden is a special player who comes along once in a generation for a conference - like a Herschel Walker for the 2000s - and he's not as much a product of the system as Tebow is.

-How exciting was that game yesterday? That was the most exciting game I've seen since LSU beat Alabama ... or since Kentucky beat LSU ... or since LSU beat Auburn ... or since LSU beat Florida. I can't remember an elite team playing this many thrilling games, maybe ever. And they're not just close games, they're games with lots of tension and big plays.

How big was Arkansas to get off the mat after blowing its lead several times to rebound and finish off the Tigers on their home field? The more I watched yesterday's game, the more I appreciated Wisconsin's win over Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. That was a damn good team - take all of yesterday's key contributors, throw in Tony Ugoh (the Colts' starting left tackle), two great defensive ends (including top 10 pick Jamaal Anderson), a great corner in Chris Houston, and a great linebacker whose name escapes me - and beating the Razorbacks was quite an accomplishment.

One big absence, though: Peyton Hills. Pretty sure he didn't play in Orlando, and he made a ton of big plays yesterday.

-Although I love an upset like Arkansas', I am sick to my stomach about the possibility of a wholly undeserving Ohio State team playing for the national title.

-While relaxing in a hot tub last night, I saw a replay of the Badgers' win over Minnesota (was that only a week ago?), mainly the fourth quarter. Some new thoughts:

On the play before Tyler Donovan's fourth down conversion run, he completed a pass to Sean Lewis, who looked really natural as a receiver subbing for the injured Travis Beckum. Thing is, Lewis appeared to push off the Gophers' DB.

On several running plays Gabe Carimi seemed to be a half-step behind the snap count, coming out of his stance slightly after the rest of the line. Didn't make a difference, though, the Minnesota guys were so slow Gabe was able to get into his block anyway.

That last touchdown Minnesota scored was even more of a fluke than I originally thought. The guy who ended up scoring, Ralph Spry, was pretty far away from the action when it happened. Also, Shane Carter was standing behind the intended receiver and Aaron Henry, if he had gone up to make a play on it, the ball might not have bounded away so high and far.

Zach Brown's last touchdown run was a thing of beauty, he did an awesome job keeping his balance and staying on his feet.

After Minnesota's botched fake punt, it appeared that Ken DeBauche hustled over to say something to the Gophers' punter, Justin Kucek. May have been innocuous, but looked like Kenny was taunting him. Kenny also pulled something like this earlier in the year when a returner had a long run called back by a penalty, forget the game. After blasting Clint Brewster for his actions and words, it's only fair to bring this to light - wish Kenny wouldn't do that.

Watching Donovan elude sacks brings to mind Michael Vick - looks like a video game character darting back and forth. Unfortunately, during one of those instances against Minnesota, while he was dancing we had three guys wide open that were missed - maybe if TD hangs in there and throws the ball instead of dancing, he hits one of those guys.

Still like Kirk DeCremer a lot, he's always around the ball.

Finally, after watching Bret Bielema's mad dash to shake Tim Brewster's hand after the game several times, I don't think there was anything wrong with it. The first time I saw it, BB looked a little too eager and gleeful. Then I thought "He just wanted to get back to his team," but after the handshake he turned around and jogged to nowhere, a la Jim Valvano. But after seeing it for a third time, it didn't seem that inappropriate, just weird. Especially since all the Badgers who weren't parading around the Dome with Paul Bunyan's Axe were exchanging pleasantries with their Gopher counterparts.

It's funny - even though I knew the outcome and was there in person, watching the final seconds unfold and the postgame with the Axe, and explaining it to Will (who didn't really get it yet), I was still giddy and excited. That's what Badger sports still do to me, I guess.


Millie said...

FYI, I'm pretty sure that Bielema's sprint across the field was referencing Brewster's claim that he would sprint across the field to be the first one to get the Axe from the UW sideline.

Toohey said...


I actually found myself thinking the same things while watching the
LSU/Ark. game.

My thoughts...
- I was in awe of the way Ark. was playing, and how LSU was able to
get back in the game. Best game I've seen this year.

- I voted for Tebow in your poll, but after McFadden's performance
yesterday, I would recind my vote for Tebow and vote McFadden.
McFadden running the offense?

- Did it seem odd to you that McFadden didn't acknowledge Casey Dick's
block? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have scored without that block.

- Like you said, I can't help but feel more impressed by Bucky's win
over Ark. last year. McFadden, Jones and add Hillis this year?
That's some serious running power.

- I just watched my first Badger B-ball game vs. Georgia. I'm
interested to read your thoughts on that game.

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