Friday, October 12, 2012

Biggest Game of the Year

With dreams of greatness after 2 consecutive Rose Bowls, the Badgers looked like a team with a season full of big games ahead of them 6 weeks ago. After a 4-2 start, there is really only one big game on the schedule, and it is this weeks matchup at Purdue. With Illinois and Indiana off to horrid 0-2 starts in conference play, and OSU and PSU barred from the post season, there is only one team that can challenge UW for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, Purdue.
After UW, Purdue plays at OSU finishing a brutal stretch that started with a whooping by Michigan last week. After that, the remaining 5 games are winnable. Not that they will win all 5, but they can probably pull off 3 wins. A win vs UW could get them to 4 wins in conference, plus a head to head tie breaker. That would leave UW needing a 5-3 conference record to make the championship, with 2 losses already and 5 games to go including MSU and OSU. Conversely a UW win leaves Purdue at 0-2, and a likely loss at OSU would make them 0-3. Assuming UW can get to 4 wins, Purdue would have to win out to get to the title game, not likely.
Some may say who cares if UW gets to the title game if they're 4-4. I certainly care. Here are my reasons why.
This is a young team that should keep getting better. They have only 2 seniors on offense.
The Big Ten is balanced, which is a nice way of saying weak. The Badger's opponent in the championship could be Nebraska, Michigan, MSU, Northwestern, or Iowa. A UW win against any of those teams on a neutral site is not unreasonable. A 3rd consecutive Rose Bowl is a 3rd consecutive Rose Bowl no matter how they get there.
More football is always better. There are only 12 Saturdays of Badger football each year (plus a bowl game of course). One more week of football is a gift that should be enjoyed.


  1. The season remained interesting. At this point WI just has to beat Minnesota and Indiana to virtually assure a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. More importantly, they seem to be improving in almost every phase of the game. Also, their road loss to Oregon State seems less damning in hindsight, particularly since they had the game stolen from them by the replay official.

    If the Badgers can avoid a letdown against MN or Indiana and beat Michigan State at home, that sets up a nice potential finishing stretch with OSU at home and PSU on the road.

    It seems likely that WI will lose one more game coming in, but I wouldn't be shocked to see them run the table and win the division outright.

  2. Football is a weird game.
    There is so little difference between a win and a loss, and great team and a mediocre team. UW almost won on the road at Oregon State. If the correct call had been made on the onside kick, UW may have pulled out a win. UW outplayed Nebraska on the road, and if not for the stupid O'Brien fumble on 4th down they may have pulled out a win there too. UW was ranked #12 early in the season, and would undoubtedly be a top 10 team right now if they had pulled out those 2 wins.
    On the other hand, UW needed a late defensive stand on the final drive to win a home game against Northern Iowa. If not for a missed field goal at the end of the game against Utah State, UW would have lost that game too.
    I agree this team is getting better in every phase of the game. They are a young team so it seems likely they will keep getting better. I hope they do. With OSU giving up 49 points last week, they look as vulnerable as any team in the Big Ten. Every game on the schedule for UW is winable.
    At the beginning of this year I picked UW to finish the regular season 9-3 in my office pool (I am the defending champion having picked last year's record correctly). After 4 games I thought I didn't have a chance to repeat, but now I'm not so sure.
    At this point I would put about equal odds on a 5-0 finish and a 2-3 finish. Football is just that crazy.