I heard a lot of explanations on the airwaves this morning for how the Wisconsin Badgers were able to defeat the University of Miami 20-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday evening.  Commentators, including ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge during the game broadcast, cited everything from the unseasonably cool weather in Orlando to the condition of a field that had hosted 4 high school championship games the previous week.  What I didn’t hear, and what seems most evident to me, is that Wisconsin simply has a better football team than the “U”.

Most of the “expert” predictions I saw before the game had the Hurricanes handling the Badgers rather easily, with many trotting out the old stereotype of the fast team from the South running roughshod over the plodding team from the Big(11)Ten.  Miami was the 15th ranked team in the country coming into this game.  Led by dynamic quarterback Jacory Harris, the ‘Canes scored some impressive victories early on against a tough non-conference schedule.  Number 25 Wisconsin, on the other hand, had yet to beat a ranked opponent all season.  Given the problems the Badgers have had at times defending the passing game, it was not unreasonable to assume a Miami win.

But what I saw Tuesday night was a Wisconsin team that dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage.  The Badgers had Harris running for his life most of the evening and on offense mixed the solid running of tailbacks John Clay and Monte Ball with the timely passing of quarterback Scott Tolzien.  Miami had no answer for the Badgers tight end tandem of Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks.  If the Hurricanes did, in fact, have a team speed advantage over Wisconsin, they were unable to exploit it for the most part.

The University of Miami may not be the college football juggernaut it was 20 years ago, but it’s certainly better than the Florida State team that laid a 48-13 beatdown on Wisconsin in the same bowl just a year ago to top off a disappointing 2008 campaign.  That, to me, indicates a great deal of progress in one year.

Personally, I still have some reservations about head coach Bret Bielema’s ability to lead this program but give him and the Badgers their due.  If the pundits expected Miami to roll over Wisconsin, they can’t disparage the Badgers just because the result wasn’t what they anticipated.  And if Miami actually was affected by the weather or the field conditions, that’s just confirmation that Wisconsin is a much tougher football team.  Give them the respect they’ve earned with this win.

 

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  • http://www.retaggr.com/Page/crichar3 Chris

    I am coming around on Bielema. Certainly, questions remain, but this season answered many of them in my mind. This team is so night and day improved over last season, so I found that impressive. Moreover, BB is now playing with his guys, players he and his staff recruited, unlike his first couple of years when he posted good records with Alvarez’s players. So I am starting to think the UW might have the right coach to take them successfully into the next decade. I couldn’t begin to think like that a year ago.

  • Jon

    Watt and Schofield garnered most of the attention. but the improved play of the defensive tackles was a huge part of the defensive success enjoyed by UW this year. Jeff Stehle in particular has improved tremendously from a year ago. Patrick Butrym is the only one of the top 4 defensive tackles returning next year and the Badgers may be best served by moving Watt inside and starting Louis Nwezgyu (check the spelling…you know, the kid from Platteville) at defensive end. It has been a great season…now, how to build on it?

  • John

    I see that you are complaining that the Badgers were getting no respect. I know you don’t get anything from down here but Jacory Harris said in his interviews “That Wisconsin wanted it more than we did tonight.” The local press was saying that the Badgers pretty much beat up the Hurricanes all night except for their last drive. It was nice to see the Badgers literally kick the Hurricanes butts last night because now I can shut up those annoying Hurricane fans. (If only we had beat Florida-those fans are really annoying)

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    Normally I believe the “no respect card” is overplayed as you earn that on the field; which is what I believe the Badgers did. I did read some good things in the paper (both here & in Miami) but the general tone of the broadcast media that I listened to (locally & nationally) seemed to be downplaying Wisconsin’s victory, which is what prompted the post.