Posted on: November 27, 2010 4:36 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 4:38 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
With wins by both Ohio State and Michigan State on Saturday morning, Wisconsin came in to its regular season finale against Northwestern needing a win to grab a share of the Big Ten title and possibly punch its ticket to Pasadena. So far, things are going according to plan.
The game is still early in the second quarter, but the Badgers aren't having any trouble with the Dan Persa-less Wildcats. Montee Ball has three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes of action, as Wisconsin has jumped out to a 21-3 lead. Not helping Northwestern's case are the three turnovers that it has already committed.
Illinois gashed Northwestern for over 500 yards on the ground last week at Wrigley Field, and it looks like Wisconsin may be able to top that.
This win is huge for Wisconsin not just because of the Big Ten title, but because if the Badgers do win, they'll likely be bound for Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. With a three-way tie atop the conference, the BCS standings will be used to determine which team gets to go to the Rose Bowl. Up until this week Wisconsin has been ahead of both Ohio State and Michigan State, and that's not likely to change considering the way things are currently going in Madison.
Update: As I hit publish on this post, Scott Tolzien hit David Gilreath for an 18-yard touchdown pass. It's now 28-3 Wisconsin.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 2:32 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. The Iowa defense is the biggest fraud in the Big Ten. Credit must go to Dan Persa and Northwestern for their gutsy fourth-quarter comeback against the Iowa Hawkeyes, but it's time to stop lauding the Iowa defense as one of the nation's best, because it isn't -- not when the game is on the line. Iowa has given up game-winning drives -- and long, sustained ones, at that -- to three different opponents this season, and if it hadn't been for an unconscionable end zone drop by Indiana wideout Damario Belcher on 4th down last week, that total would be four, in just 10 games. It's one thing to hold lightweights like Iowa State and Eastern Illinois to just one score. It's another to get a stop when the team needs one the most, and Iowa's defense just doesn't seem capable of doing that.
2. Bret Bielema's empathy generator is broken. Quick, name the one Big Ten coach who would run up 83 points on a conference opponent. It's probably the same one that goes for two while up by 25 with under seven minutes to play, isn't it? Why yes it is. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema continued his quest to get every mediocre coach in the Big Ten fired with an 83-20 firebombing of Indiana in Madison. And though Bielema will again claim not to be running up the score, it's worth pointing out that Scott Tolzien was throwing passes to fellow starters Lance Kendricks and David Gilreath with a 39-point lead and under five minutes left in the third quarter. Yes, it's up to Indiana to make the stop, and Indiana never did, but in a 63-point win, it's never good to see the winning team converting a 76-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter -- regardless of whether a backup threw it. Wisconsin, we're looking at you here.
3. There's plenty of Hawkeye fans in East Lansing. The Big Ten title race is down to three one-loss teams, and as of right now, Wisconsin owns the tiebreaker for the trip to Pasadena (or if all hell really breaks loose, Glendale, but let's assume Pasadena). Of the three teams, only one -- Ohio State -- faces a ranked team down the stretch, and that's OSU's trip to Iowa next weekend. If Iowa wins, all of a sudden, Michigan State has the upper hand for the league title. Ohio State wins, and we're back to the three-team non-round-robin tiebreaker, which is BCS standing. MSU is not such a big fan of that idea: the Spartans are firmly mired at third among Big Ten teams in that department. So yes, there's still plenty of endgame drama left in the Big Ten, even if it involves two teams that are at best longshots for the title.
4. Matt McGloin has "moxie," but Ohio State has a secondary. Advantage, OSU. It's hard to believe, looking at the 38-14 final score from Columbus, but Penn State actually led the Buckeyes 14-3 at the break, and it could have been worse. PSU QB Matt McGloin threw two touchdown passes in the first half, and unlike the two he threw in the second half, the first half scores were to his own team. Yes, things sort of fell off a cliff for Penn State, and the turning point was likely late in the first half, when Joe Paterno got greedy on 4th and 1 at the OSU 20 and went for it. The Evan Royster rush failed, the Buckeye defense's heart grew three sizes, and PSU never even threatened to score for the rest of the game.
It was a sobering return to reality for Penn State fans who witnessed McGloin's dissection of the Northwestern defense last week and were entertaining dreams of McGloin as a wildly successful three (or two-and-a-half, anyway) -year starter over true freshman Rob Bolden, Joe Paterno's choice at the beginning of the season. The fact of the matter is, there's usually plenty more to turning a struggling offense around than just making a switch at quarterback, and when Bolden's got a full year of film study and practice under his belt, he's probably going to be a better quarterback than McGloin. That fact doesn't have much relevance today, which is why McGloin started at Columbus and probably will next week, but it would be extremely presumptive to look at McGloin's first two quarters at OSU and attach a tag like "the future" to him -- unless the words "clipboard holder for Rob Bolden" immediately follow.
Tags: Ball State, BCS Tiebreakers, Big Ten, Big Ten Tiebreakers, Bret Bielema, Damario Belcher, Dan Persa, David Gilreath, Evan Royster, Indiana, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Lance Kendricks, Matt McGloin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rob Bolden, Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl Tiebreakers, Scott Tolzien, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:14 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Wisconsin sent a message last Saturday night when they welcomed the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to Madison and proceeded to shove a football down their collective throat for 60 minutes, winning the game 31-18. It was an exhibition of what Wisconsin does best, and has always done best. Take a big running back, throw as many blockers as you can in front of him, and then pound the defense into submission. When that defense starts to get tired, hit them with a play-action pass.
Some would call this style of play smashmouth, or three yards and a cloud of dust. Not Bret Bielema, though. No, he has a name for this style of play that's a bit more patriotic.
“We do. We call it American football around here. Two tight ends, two backs, one wide receiver and occasionally get two wide receivers on the field, but it was [a message]. … What we do 365 days a year came through on Saturday. Our kids really imposed their will and it was really fun to watch.”
Yeah, this is American football. It's blue collar. It's not that fancy-pants French football where you spread out five wide receivers and dink and dunk your way to the end zone before retreating to the sideline.
Though, there are some parts of Wisconsin's offense that don't remind me all that much of America to be honest. First of all, David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, so it was 7-0 before Wisconsin's American offense ever took the field. Which means that this American offense never operated with a deficit, and that doesn't sound all that American to me.
Plus, and this one is the most important, last I checked, none of the players on Wisconsin's offense are Chinese. Since when do Americans manufacture their own points?
Posted on: October 16, 2010 8:31 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
There's a shocker going on in Madison today, as Wisconsin has opened up a 21-3 lead on top-ranked Ohio State. That is not a typo; it's 21-3. Wisconsin's David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Badger offense has absolutely gashed the Buckeye defense on the ground. John Clay has 13 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns already; this is the best he's looked this season by far.
Ohio State appeared to get a break when OSU linebacker Andrew Sweat picked off a Scott Tolzien pass, then got 15 yards tacked onto his return after a dodgy late hit call; that sequence of events put the ball on Wisconsin's 24 yard line for a first and 10. But Terrelle Pryor was sacked on 3rd down, and Devin Barclay missed the resulting 46-yard attempt.
Pryor has been miserable through the air, completing only one of his last seven passes for six yards. He's just plain missing his receivers today. Pryor can still run, of course, and he at least has 30 yards rushing on eight carries. But that's not nearly enough, of course, and there's nothing about this game's score that's not indicative of how the first half played out.
This is a butt-kicking, plain and simple. It's stunning to see Ohio State on the receiving end of one in Big Ten play.