There’s no longer any point in burying the lead.  THE WISCONSIN BADGERS ARE GOING TO THE ROSE BOWL! 

The Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes did their part with wins earlier on Saturday so by the time the Badgers lined up for their 2:30 kickoff against Northwestern, they knew that a victory at Camp Randall would secure them a share of the Big(11)Ten Championship.  UW proceeded to follow through with a 70-23 win over the Wildcats and the 3 way tie with the aforementioned Spartans and Buckeyes all but guaranteed that the Badgers will make their first appearance in Pasadena since 1999.  All that remains for their official coronation is the final BCS standings on December 5, which should give the Badgers the nod by the conference’s tie-breaker rules.

And that’s as it should be.  The Badgers are clearly the class of this year’s Big(11)Ten.  I’m sure the folks in East Lansing would disagree, pointing to their win over the Badgers.  UW senior guard John Moffitt declined to answer when asked if his team now would beat MSU, so I’ll answer for him with a resounding ‘yes’.  The Spartans have had a fine season but this is a much better Wisconsin team than we saw earlier in the season.  They proved it again yesterday with a dominating performance over the Wildcats that is sure to bring some renewed shouts of running up the score.

There’s probably no doubt that Badger coach Bret Bielema isn’t making any friends among the conference coaching community but credit Bielema for “knowing the score” (pun clearly intended).  The goal for his team was a Big(11)Ten title and once they lost to Michigan St. he knew they needed to maintain a lead in the BCS standings to accomplish that.  For better or worse, lopsided scores tend to get voters attention. 

At the same time, it’s not like the Badgers had to go much out of their way to score.  As ABC analyst Bob Griese correctly pointed out during Saturday’s broadcast, “Wisconsin is just running its offense”.  No one complains when Oregon lights up a scoreboard, perhaps because they don’t expect Pac-10 teams to play defense.  It’s hardly Bielema’s fault that the Wildcats played yesterday without their starting quarterback and tailback; nor that they turned the ball over 7 times.  The offense has been on a roll lately despite playing most of the last 4 games without starting tailback John Clay.  Clay finally got in for a few plays yesterday but it’s been Monte Ball that has carried the load for the Badgers.  He did it again against Northwestern with 178 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The biggest concern I have for the Badgers is their secondary but if the front seven plays as they did yesterday, even that becomes a moot point.  Fans better enjoy defensive end JJ Watt in a Badger uniform because he may have only one game remaining for them.  CBS’ NFL draft expert Chad Reuter already has him projected as a late first round pick next year and his stock continues to rise.  Watt was a force again yesterday forcing two fumbles and could very well be playing on Sundays as soon as next season.

You know the Badgers are on a good run when they routinely get compared to the basketball team.  With over a month remaining until their next game, let’s hope they can maintain that edge.

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Speaking of the Badgers basketball team, they will be playing Notre Dame tonight at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, FL.  The Badgers downed Manhattan and Boston College to reach the title game of the holiday tournament.  The win over BC was particularly satisfying as Eagles’ coach Steve Donahue led the Cornell team that knocked Wisconsin out of last year’s NCAA tournament. 

On the other hand, the game against Manhattan served notice that the Badgers could do everything else right and still have problems if they can’t find a way to put the ball in the basket.  Senior forward Jon Leuer seemed to be pressing early in that game and it appeared to affect his shot.  Freshman guard Josh Gasser looks to be extraordinarily poised but the Badgers will need to find someone to spell guard Jordan Taylor.  It would help if Iowa transfer Ben Brust could provide a consistent outside shooting threat to help open up the middle for Leuer and Mike (Carrot Top) Bruesewitz.

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RANDOM SAMPLINGS:  Now that the Minnesota Vikings have capped head coach Brad Childress and installed former defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier as interim coach, I’ll be curious to see what effect it has on that team.  Certainly, it figures to be a more inspired group that takes the field at Washington today but it remains to be seen if that actually translates to more wins.  Frazier was respected in the locker room and around the league but it’s not as if the Vikings’ defense was playing all that great either.  At least now they can drop the pretense on offense and let QB Brett Favre openly do whatever he wants………..The Milwaukee Bucks seem to have something in common with the Badgers as the gang that can’t shoot straight.  The Bucks have fallen to the bottom of the NBA Central standings and figure to stay there until they can find a consistent game on offense………..One basketball team that is off to a good start is the UW-Green Bay women’s program.  The Phoenix have already defeated 3 Big(11)Ten teams including Wisconsin en route to a 6-0 start.  Last night they added a Carribean Classic title win over Utah in Cancun, Mexico and once again look to be the best team in the Horizon League, if not the best women’s team in the state………..Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young might want to contact NBC analyst Tony Dungy.  Dungy mentored Michael Vick in his return to the NFL after serving his prison sentence for dog fighting.  Young’s emotional outburst during last week’s game cost him his starting job and landed him in coach Jeff Fisher’s (no pun intended) dog house.  If VY doesn’t straighten himself out soon, he could find himself out of the league………..I thought it was interesting that Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was shown schmoozing on the sidelines with halftime performer Keith Urban and wife Nicole Kidman during their Thanksgiving Day game against the Saints.  Since Jones essentially operates as the Cowboys’ general manager, it occurred to me that I couldn’t see Packers’ GM Ted Thompson doing the same thing during a game.  Just another reason for Packer fans to be thankful that they have a GM with his eye on the prize………..Heard on the radio earlier this week that there’s a possibility there may not be enough ‘bowl-eligible’ college football teams to fill all the slots in this year’s holiday games.  If that’s not a convincing sign that there are way too many bowl games, I don’t know what is.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  GO PACK!!!!

 

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  • foundinidaho

    Congrats to the Badgers! I may have to acquire my first piece of Badgerwear for the game to show my support.

    By the way, I wouldn’t be too sure that TT could hold back either if Nicole Kidman was running around Lambeau either…just sayin’. ;)

  • http://www.pocketdoppler.com BigSnakeMan

    So, you don’t believe the rumors? :)

  • http://www.milwaukeebriansports.com/ Brian

    BigSnakeMan,

    The USA Today poll came out this morning. Both UW and OSU jumped 1 spot, but OSU gained a few points on the Badgers. UW leads OSU by only 69 points.

    It would be a sham if Ohio State jumps over the Badgers for the Rose Bowl. UW definitely deserves it. But I’m very nervous about how the polls (and the “computers”) will turn out.

  • http://www.pocketdoppler.com BigSnakeMan

    There may yet be a variation in the BCS standings, but I can foresee no reasonable expectation that OSU can overtake UW.

    If that were to happen, they’d better mobilize the riot squad in Madison.

  • http://www.milwaukeebriansports.com/ Brian

    Agreed on the riot squad. I still have this unsettling feeling about the national bias toward Ohio State over most other teams. Looking forward to seeing the final BCS results.

  • http://www.pocketdoppler.com BigSnakeMan

    I acknowledge that the OSU ‘mystique’ is a concern. But I think the Badgers have garnered enough respect over the last month to overcome that. At least, I would hope so.

  • foundinidaho

    Nevada is getting screwed in the polls, probably because no one respected Boise to begin with. This whole system absolutely sucks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Packers-Therapy/113896815298853?ref=sgm Chris

    Early losses to UNLV and Notre Dame coupled with their struggles v. Manhattan don’t suggest good things for UW. Their play is particularly concerning given the projected strength of the Big Soon-to-be-Tweleve.

  • foundinidaho

    Fresno State played the Badgers very tough as well, who both Nevada and Boise both beat. However, the Badgers seem to definitely be on a roll.