Badgers Continue to Roll
It’s often been said that the best defense is a good offense. Clearly that cliche applies to this year’s version of the Wisconsin Badger football team. The Badgers had scored 31 or more points in 5 consecutive games heading into Saturday’s contest at Ann Arbor and the pattern continued with the team raising their average by putting up 48 against the defensively challenged University of Michigan.
The last time Wisconsin visited ‘The Big House’ was in 2008 when they squandered a 19 point halftime lead to lose to the Wolverines. This time the Badgers carried a 24 point advantage into the locker room, but I have to admit that I got a little nervous sense of deja vu when Michigan scored on its first two possessions of the 3rd quarter to close the game to ten points.
That’s about the time that UW head coach Bret Bielema called up to the press box to remind offensive coordinator Paul Chryst that Michigan couldn’t stop the Badgers running attack. The term “smash-mouth football” was obviously coined with the Badgers in mind and they proved it by finishing the game with 29 straight plays on the ground, gaining 174 yards in the second half.
If there’s a college tailback in the country that runs harder than Wisconsin’s Monte Ball, I haven’t seen him. Ball, who started the season 3rd on the team’s depth chart, has been on a mission since getting his opportunity to play due to the knee injury to erstwhile starter John Clay. Ball torched Michigan for 173 yards and 4 touchdowns and over the last 3 games has rushed for a total of 467 yards and 9 TDs rendering Clay, a preseason Heisman hopeful, almost an afterthough in the process. Ball has proven to be a nice tandem with freshman James White, who again complemented the running game with 181 yards and 2 scores of his own.
All of that running led to a nearly 14 minute advantage in time of possession for the Badgers. That kind of offense can do a defense a world of good. Especially one that’s missing one of its best players in linebacker Chris Borland and that remains shaky in the secondary. Quarterback Denard Robinson, Michigan’s own Heisman candidate, threw for 239 yards and two second half touchdowns to keep the game from becoming a Hoosier-like blowout.
Of course, all that would have gone for naught had not Ohio State rallied again behind QB Terrelle Pryor and defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes. Wisconsin’s fate looks a lot better now going into the last week of the Big(11)Ten schedule. Michigan State squeaked by Purdue yesterday but still has to go to Penn State next week. Even if the Spartans manage to get by the Nittany Lions, I can’t foresee Ohio State losing to this Michigan team next week. With those being two early games, the Badgers will know what they have to do by the time they line up against Northwestern next Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats shouldn’t be taken lightly as they are well coached by Pat Fitzgerald and have traditionally played the Badgers tough. But Wisconsin will have revenge on its mind after last year’s loss as well as the added incentive of a Big(11)Ten championship. All of the signs right now point to Wisconsin having the inside track on a well earned trip to Pasadena.