Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday morning thoughts

Woke up this morning feeling better about college football. Breaking a four-game losing streak will do that for you. But what I can't get over is how, since the Marshall game (the last time we scored more than two touchdowns), everything has been such a struggle for the Badgers.

John Clay for three yards. Pass to Garrett Graham for six. A frantic Dustin Sherer scramble to get a first down. You can still score points that way, but it's like trying to win a baseball game without any extra-base hits. There's very little margin for error, and this team still makes plenty of errors.

Around the Big Ten, last night's big Penn State-Ohio State game, which turned out to be excruciatingly boring, at least sorted out the way things stand in the conference. Good for Penn State for not caving against a team they're clearly better than.

1. Penn State. They played things way too conservatively on offense, but still showed they have more talent and guts than Ohio State.

2. Ohio State. Thank goodness they won't be playing in the national title game again ... probably. A good team but one that by no means captures the imagination.

3. Michigan State. I watched the Spartans' game against Michigan with Uncle John yesterday, and for awhile it looked like they might fall prey to the kind of crap that usually goes against them in this series. But in the end Michigan's lack of talent and experience was its undoing. State has some players, obviously starting with Javon Ringer, but it looks like they're prone to mistakes too, which we need to pull out next week's game in East Lansing.

4. Minnesota. Yesterday, watching them slog through their win against Purdue, it dawned on me that the Gophers' year is reminiscent of our Cinderella 1993 season. They won a couple non-conference games that excited no one, but that the needed for confidence, and have taken advantage of a favorable conference schedule for a strong start there. They could win or lose any or all of their remaining four games, and missing Penn State and Michigan State is a huge break.

5. Iowa.

6. Northwestern. Losing at Indiana? Sheesh.

7. Illinois. They didn't look good at all yesterday. They fell victim to our Can't Line Up Properly Disease, must be contagious.

8. Michigan. Speaking of contagious mental mistakes, two plays in yesterday's game had to be infuriating for their fans and coaches the way the Badgers' mental mistakes have been infuriating for us. They were both by Donovan Warren on State field goal attempts. On the first, State's kicker was short on a 50-yard attempt. Had Michigan let the ball just go, they would have had the ball on their own 40. Instead, Warren fielded the ball, returned it to about the 20, and Michigan got called for a block in the back. So they started at their own 10, a 30-yard loss. Later, Michigan blocked an attempt, which Warren picked up and then slipped, costing the Wolverines 10-15 yards in field position. Seems the guy attended the Leon Lett Special Teams Academy. Obviously I was happy to see it, but eventually it just made me more angry that we lost to these guys.

Another note: Steven Threet and Sherer are a lot alike in their size, the way they throw the ball and in their overall lack of foot speed.

One more note: During the game I saw much coverage of a quote former Michigan running back Mike Hart made after their win over State last year: "Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you're playing basketball and you let him get the lead. Then you come back and take it from him." Classy. Do UM fans really not understand the animosity directed at that program?

9. Wisconsin. We can win in Lansing, but will need some help from the Spartans.

10. Indiana. Hopefully Kellen Lewis's ankle injury takes two more weeks to heal.

11. Purdue. Too bad they're not on the schedule this year.


Tyler Feuling said...

Maybe I am just optimistic, but is it farfetched to consider Wisconsin the fifth best team in the conference? Can't we just chalk up the 0-4 start to an unfortunate schedule, losing to the teams that are head of us (sans Michigan). PSU, OSU, MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin? I mean, a few plays here and there and we beat Michigan and OSU. Maybe I just dont want to live in a world where Minnesota is better than Wisconsin in football. Yeah, I know I am rationalizing and have probably put a lot into this Wisconsin win, but its all I have left being from Seattle and watching sports here. Keep up the good work.

Scott Tappa said...

I don't think it's far-fetched; after all, three weeks ago some of us were still thinking this might be the third-best team in the conference. It just hasn't panned out that way. The Badgers could conceivably end up 4-4 in the Big Ten and finish fifth, but yesterday's win notwithstanding, there are still issues that need to be resolved against solid Michigan State and Minnesota teams.

Anonymous said...

Madison, WI- Former Wisconsin Badger Troy Vincent says he is a potential candidate to replace former NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw.

Go to for entire interview with Troy Vincent.