Badgers Hold at BCS #7, “Uh-oh” Style Points On The Way

Bielema

The unspoken by anyone at the team or league level in the wake of Wisconsin’s 83-20 drubbing of Indiana was the fact the Badgers are playing the system.  The BCS system that is, in which they hold out hopes for a gazillion things to happen for a shot at the national title or the highest ranking Big Ten member to get the best bowl.  With wilted Northwestern limping in to Camp Randall and the Badgers prolific offensive line and stellar RBs thinking the deadly combo of Big Ten Title, Rose Bowl, and REVENGE expect some ugliness on Saturday.  We’ve got all week to brace for impact and no I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic in the wake of one of the worst rush defense performances I’ve seen at NU – and that is saying something.  Click here for the BCS standings. 

As one commenter pointed out Fitz has a very disturbing trend of now going 1-7 the week after being ranked in any poll.  We not only don’t seem to like the burden of expectations, we sprint from it as a program based on how we play when ranked.  More on this tomorrow.

  • Matt

    I’m actually pretty confident that Coach Carmody, Shurna and Crawford can keep Bielema and the Badgers under 90… Go ‘Cats

  • http://Purple-Storm JMK

    Fortunately, Wisconsin used a rush offense more reminiscent of Iowa’s pro-style attack (which we shut down) than Illinois’s zone-read scheme. That being said, I’m still pretty scared, but it may not be the complete thrashing the Illinois game would lead many to believe.

  • Richard

    PSU’s pro-style running game didn’t seem to have too many problems against us.

  • Wildcat99

    I am upset at the negativity. I too was at the Wrigley game and the loss stung, but I actually think we will come back with a vengeance and beat Wisconsin. I think the coaches will fix the run defense. I honestly think that there were just too many distractions with the Wrigley game.

  • SupaKat

    @Wildcat99

    you don’t think there will be distractions at Camp Randall on Saturday? I think Wisconsin will be playing for the Big Ten title and that environment is going to be nuts! We couldn’t stop Mikel Leshoure, how exactly are we going to stop Clay and Co.? Wisconsin’s O-line is downright disgusting. I would like to be confident and think that we can win, I’ll be there on Saturday in my purple – but right now, I don’t see it happening.

  • zeek

    @Wildcat99

    How is it being negative to acknowledge that Wisconsin has perhaps the best offensive line and best running game in the country, let alone the Big Ten?

    We’re going up against an offense that’s even more prolific on the ground than Illinois’ so we should be realistic about what we can expect.

    I’d expect us to scheme better early on so we’re not giving up huge runs early like we did in the first quarter of the Wrigley game, but other than that, it’s a very tall order to stop Wisconsin’s offense.

  • bigtencrazy

    I won’t charge the writer for using my material. Just glad folks understand there is no way possible for the Wildcats to catch Bucky napping.

    where NW might catch a break is that Clay is returning and given how long he has been off the big guy might put the ball on the ground.
    If the Wildcats do get down don’t be looking to the Badger coach for mercy. The guy is a tool and will keep his foot on the gas well into the fourth quarter and claim afterward he “did it for the seniors”.

  • surfmen93

    I’m with @wildcat99. I’m not saying we’ll win (even if we surprisingly play great on D, it’s not like UW D is going to give up a lot of points). However, there is no way we play that bad again. We came back from the Penn St debacle. All I heard about Wrigley was about the venue, not the game. Now with UW we can focus on the game and hope to play better.

    As a fanbase, we’re as schizo as the team. The fans can’t handle success or failure. Deep breaths.

  • SupaKat

    also – no Dan Persa :-(

  • vaudvillain

    One thing I think kind of gets lost in all of this: Illinois is a good team. Before the season, I had pretty much pencilled this game in as a win. Then the season started, and Illinois defense actually looked good. Sure, they had three losses fairly early, but they were to good teams: Missouri, Ohio State, Michigan State. They beat Penn State by 20 in Happy Valley, then walloped Purdue and Indiana, and were looking pretty scary at 5-3. At that point in the season, we were 6-2, having just beaten Indiana, but I honestly thought that Illinois looked like the better team.. Then the triple-OT basketball game broke out with Michigan, and Illinois managed to lose to Minnesota, and they had fallen to 5-5 and all the press was how they were struggling to become bowl eligible. Penn State had become a dim memory as we were riding high off the Iowa win (even though it cost us Persa).

    Illinois got back to what made them good, even with a 5-3 record: solid defense and a good rushing attack. Yeah, our line got manhandled and folks weren’t tackling. But it’s not like this came out of nowhere. Illinois scored 40+ points in regulation three times before facing us: IU, PU, UM, and we showed some pretty serious vulnerability to the run against Minnesota, Purdue, and Penn State.

    Of course I’m disappointed that we lost — I guess all I’m saying is that we shouldn’t be surprised by it. File this post under the “perspective” category. We’re 7-4, and who knows — maybe we can pull out a miracle at Camp Randall. But even if we don’t, we finish 7-5, we go to a bowl game, we enjoyed some pretty serious press coverage, and Dan Persa will enter the 2011 season with some name recognition…which is a very valuable commodity when it comes to Heisman chatter.

  • wcgrad

    Our performance after being ranked has not been good, but I’d hardly say this last game was entirely the product of failing to live up to expectations. As far as losses go, this one deserves an asterisk. We had just lost perhaps the best QB in the country and were UNDERDOGS by more than a TD. Had we a more effective offense, (read no injury to Persa), the game may have turned out entirely differently. No offense to Watkins, but for the most part the offense was ATROCIOUS in the first half (how many turnovers?), yet we were still in the game. I daresay this was the toughest task for an NU team since the start of our 2nd half tie/lead streak.

    No way Wisconsin overlooks us, as they are gunning for the title, but the silver lining is that Tolzein cannot run the ball the way Scheelhaase can so we don’t need to scheme for that. That’s like adding another player to our defense. I believe Scheelhaase’s running ability, combined with our offense’s inability to possess the ball, was why we failed so miserably at stopping the run.

    The flipside is Tolzein is completing a Persa-esque 73.9% of his passes (though he rarely attempts them) though, amazingly, he’s slightly more likely to throw interceptions.

    Bucky is a bully, but like all bullies, if you stand up to them, they will buckle. If we can play mistake free enough to have a lead/tie in the 2nd half. I think we’ll be in Wisco’s head. They may not overlook us, but they certainly aren’t expecting to have to make any game-winning drives in the 4th quarter either.

    The two reasons I have to be optimistic (or at least why the game will be worth watching after halftime):
    1. Our offense will have improved over this past game. Watkins will have adjusted to the speed of the game and be better at going through his progressions. McCall will come up with a plan that helps our O possess the ball longer which will work wonders for our D.

    2. Our D has been humiliated by poor tackling several times this season, and each time has bounced back. In addition, we’re going to be adding an extra man because Tolzein can’t run. Even more, I think our corners have improved (this may not be true) so I’d be willing to let them play man against Wisco’s wideouts enabling us to put more men in the box.

    Were I an analyst, I would say Wisco should win by at least 2 TDs. But as a fan, there are a lot of reasons why that might not be the case.

    Take heart, and Go ‘Cats!

  • NUinNY

    @vaudvillain

    I hear you as far as Illinois being a good team. But, here’s the thing–we need to beat good teams. I do think there’s something to be said for asking Fitz the tough questions: why is our second half (particularly 3rd quarter) performance so much worse than our first half performance? why are we 1-7 coming off a ranked week? why were we punting on 4th and 1 when the game was still close?

    This is in no way to advocate a change in coach, and it’s certainly not intended to advocate that we become as insane as the folks who support, say, Texas and Florida–all programs have down years. But I do think we have to accept that our likely 7-5 season (with only two Big10 wins) is *bad* and that our coaching staff is going to need to make some changes if we want to get out of the bottom quarter of the Big10.

  • Alaskawildcat

    I think we are all forgetting that our defensive coordinator still remembers all the numbers for Wisky’s plays which they still haven’t gotten around to changing since he left. You just know the collegiate football world would love to see the Wildcats blow-out the Badgers to punish Wisconsin for their running up the score against Indiana. In many ways this game is more of a rivalry than when we play Illinois so anything can happen. I think it will be fun to see how Colter will fit into Saturday’s offensive schemes now that his redshirt has been burned. I like it when we have nothing to lose and there is the potential for our opponents asking at the end of next week’s game, “Who let the Cats out?”

  • Alaskawildcat

    For those who feel compelled to play “realist” look at it this way. For Bowl positioning the best thing we could do is lose to Wisconsin so that the likihood of two Big Ten Teams getting BCS slots is maximized and as a consequence we can further separate ourselves from going to Detroit in December. So this game is a no lose proposition for the Wildcats either way it goes. We win and likewise likely stay out of Detroit.

  • NU_Roger

    Given the success we’ve had at Kinnick, Fitz should paint the Camp Randall visitor’s locker room pink.

  • cece

    remember last year how it seemed that our defense knew every play that Wisconsin was about to run? not gonna happen again. note to self, keep lots of beer from the Thanksgiving Day stash. need more than ever to survive what is about to happen on Saturday. hoping I’m wrong, but thinking Wisconsin still feels the Hanky sting from last year and will put it all on us.

  • Dozer

    I posted this on another blog, but I think it’s worth repeating here.

    An embarrassed football team is a dangerous football team.

    Illinois lost at home to Minnesota, a team that had no defense, no coach, and no Big Ten wins. They were coming into Chicago– rightly or wrongly, a place they might consider “their turf”– and they see Northwestern getting all the buzz, all the media love, and Wrigley Field literally covered in purple. They were an embarrassed team and an angry team, and they played a phenomenal game.

    Northwestern just lost to Illinois, a Ron Zook-coached team with a 5-5 record that had just lost to Minnesota. They let themselves get distracted by Wrigley, by the win over Iowa, by losing Dan Persa, etc., and they blew it at the most-hyped and probably most-watched regular season Northwestern game, basically ever. They forgot how to play basic football when everyone’s eyes were on them.

    The last time the ‘Cats were embarrassed like that, at Penn State, they came back and played their best game of the year against Iowa. I don’t know that the same thing will happen against Wisconsin, but I do think it’ll be an interesting game.

  • Richard

    Alaskawildcat:

    For the BigTen to fail to land 2 BCS teams, PSU would have to beat MSU as well as NU upsetting UW (I don’t think Michigan has any hope of beating the Sweatervests). It’s hard to see a 11-1 MSU team not getting a second BCS bid.

    In even in the unlikely case that happens, though, I doubt the Cotton Bowl game jumps the Illini over an 8-4 NU team coming off a major upset in its final game even if Illinois beats Fresno.

    In short, it’s very hard to see us ending up in Detroit regardless of what happens.

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Minnesota0000
Northwestern0000
Wisconsin0000
Nebraska0000
Purdue0000
Iowa0000
Illinois0000

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Rutgers1000
Maryland0000
Michigan0000
Michigan State0000
Ohio State0000
Indiana0000
Penn State0000