Posted on: January 28, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 5:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Some good news for Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema on Friday, as it turns out that leading your team to the Rose Bowl and nearly scoring 100 points in a game a few times will get you a contract extension and a bit of a raise.
Wisconsin announced that Bielema, along with several other coaches at the school, has received a contract extension. Bielema's new deal will run through 2016.
What isn't known at this point is what kind of raise Bielema is likely getting with the extension, and that Bielema made about $1.78 million in 2010.
In his five seasons at Wisconsin, where he replaced his current boss, Barry Alvarez, Bielema is 49-16. The team's trip to the Rose Bowl this season was the first time Wisconsin played in Pasadena in eleven years.
Posted on: January 1, 2011 8:48 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
TCU says "Hello, BCS!" and beats Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl to finish season 13-0
Offense: It wasn't a great game by the TCU offense in this one, as while the Horned Frogs came out blazing in the first quarter and scored touchdowns on their first two drives, they only managed 7 points over the final 45 minutes. Still, the Frogs got as many points as they needed, and didn't turn the ball over, using field position to their advantage throughout the second half.
Andy Dalton was on fire out of the gate, but TCU then got a bit pass-happy in the second half and his performance fell off a bit. He did finish the game with 247 total yards and two touchdowns, running the offense efficiently enough to win the offensive MVP of the game. That being said, had TCU been a bit more productive with the ball late, it wouldn't have had to sweat so much at the end. Grade:B
Defense: His name is Tank Carder, and this game wasn't as much the Rose Bowl as it was the Tank Carder Show. Carder was everywhere on the field for the TCU defense. Knocking Scott Tolzien to the ground repeatedly, swallowing runners in the backfield, and knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. If you didn't know Carder's name before this game, you do now.
The only problem for TCU was its interior run defense. While it was able to utilize its speed every time Wisconsin tried to stretch runs outside, the defensive line was getting manhandled up the middle quite a bit. Still, considering how impressive Wisconsin's offense was over the final month of the season, holding the Badgers to 19 points is nothing to be ashamed of. Grade: B+
Coaching: The only complaint I have about the job Gary Patterson and the TCU coaching staff did in this game was abandoning a game plan that was working so well at the start. Andy Dalton was having successful early throwing the ball and running out of the read option, but for some reason TCU ditched this attack after the first quarter. Instead Dalton just kept dropping back to pass, and things got a bit too predictable. Grade: B
Offense: Just looking at the statistics and not the scoreboard, you'd think Wisconsin won this game. The Badgers rushed for nearly five yards a carry, converted nearly half of its third downs, both of its fourth down attempts and didn't turn the ball over a single time. So what went wrong? Well, once the Badgers got to the red zone things seemed to stall and the team had to settle for field goal attempts, one of which they missed.
Which was a big miss given the final score.
The big problem on offense was that Wisconsin just wasn't very efficient throwing the ball. The Badgers have never been a passing team, but they've utilized play-action all season to pick up big chunks of yards and move the ball down the field. Tolzien couldn't do this against TCU on Saturday, and it cost Wisconsin points in the end. Grade:C+
Defense: Aside from the first quarter, Wisconsin's defense played pretty well. It's just Wisconsin had trouble getting off the field on third down, which lengthened TCU drives and took more gas out of the tank as the game wore on. The Badgers did a good job stopping the run and made life difficult for Dalton at times, but in the end, the Badgers defense had to make a play, and they simply didn't.
A turnover or two would have gone a long way in this game. Grade:B
Coaching: Why did Wisconsin lose this game despite the stats? Coaching decisions. Now, I loved Bret Bielema calling a fake punt deep in his own territory in the first half, but other than that, he left me scratching my head quite a bit. There was the questionable clock management at the end of the first half that forced Wisconsin to settle for a field goal, as it seems Bielema thought unused timeouts carried over to the second half. The biggest gaffe, however, came at the end of the game. On Wisconsin's final drive the Badgers ran the ball right down TCU's throat with John Clay and Montee Ball. After finally punching the ball into the end zone, the Badgers had to go for two, so what did Wisconsin do? They spread it out with four receivers and decided to throw. A Tank Carder fly swat later and TCU was Rose Bowl champions. Grade:F
The first quarter gave me the feeling that this was going to be an epic Rose Bowl, one that would go down in history. Things didn't quite play out that way, but it was still a very interesting game up until the last few minutes. It was a huge win for TCU, and one I thoroughly enjoyed watching. With or without the questionable decisions at the end. Grade: A-
Posted on: November 28, 2010 12:02 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Wisconsin would run over its own mother if she got in the way. Not because Wisconsin doesn't like its mother, but because it just doesn't know how to stop. For the third time this season the Badgers put up at least 70 points, this time against Northwestern. Though it does seem like Bret Bielema at least learned how to slow his boys down a little bit, as they had 70 at the end of the third quarter and decided not to go for 100. Which is very considerate of the Badgers. Of course, most importantly, the win means that Wisconsin should be going to the Rose Bowl.
2. At least I think it does. Nobody will be sure until Sunday night which Big Ten team is going to the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State are all tied for first in the conference, and the BCS rankings will decide which team gets to go to Pasadena. Well, Wisconsin has been the highest ranked of the three for weeks, and it's hard to think that either Ohio State or Michigan State will pass the Badgers after a game in which they just hung 70 points on the board again. Then again, who knows?
3. Rich Rodriguez is in trouble. What? You think that a coach with a team that's gone 7-5 is safe? How'd that work out for Randy Shannon this season? Exactly, and Shannon didn't have people calling for his head since the second his name was announced as the new head coach as Rodriguez has. Getting to 7-5 and going to a bowl game for the first time since coming to Ann Arbor is nice, but beating Ohio State once in a while would be nicer. Here's a nice little stat for you to consider. During his three years at Michigan, Rodriguez has won three conference games in the Big House. Three. During Jim Tressel's career at Ohio State, he's won four games inside the Big House. He only gets to play there once every two years.
4. Ohio State is the best program in the Big Ten. I didn't say they were the best team this season, as I think that title belongs to Wisconsin, but the best program in the Big Ten is clearly Ohio State. The Buckeyes clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title for the sixth consecutive season, which is hard to do in any conference, let alone the Big Ten. The last school to win six straight Big Ten titles? Ohio State of course, from 1972-77.
5. Iowa must be a huge Walking Dead fan. It's the only explanation for the way they walked through the last month of the season like a bunch of brain dead zombies. The day before Halloween the Hawkeyes pasted Michigan State 37-6 to improve to 4-1 in the Big Ten and remain in the Rose Bowl hunt. They then went 1-3 in November, with that one win coming against Indiana, and that game saw Damarlo Belcher drop a game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds. The Hawkeyes then followed that narrow escape with losses to Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota. What happened?
Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:39 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 12:40 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The eight announced finalists for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award (as given out by the Football Writers Association of America) didn't offer much in the way of surprise; six of the nominees come from the current top seven teams in the BCS standings and all eight coach for teams in the BCS top ten. They are, from highest-ranked to lowest:
Chip Kelly, Oregon
Gene Chizik, Auburn
Gary Patterson, TCU
Chris Peterson, Boise State
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
A victory over Alabama (and the lack of further allegations against Cam Newton ) would probably make Chizik the front-runner by a nose over Kelly, since his team entered this season with lower expectations and a far worse record in 2009. But Kelly's mastery of his light-speed spread-option offense and dominating season would make him a fine choice, as would any of the finalists. The FWAA can't go wrong.
If there's anything to complain about here, it's that all eight choices follow the "good or great team becomes or stays great" model. But there's something to be said about taking a mediocre or even bad program to (or back to) respectability. Here's three coaches who also deserve some recognition for their work in 2010:
Mario Cristobal, FIU. It's easy to forget just how miserable the Golden Panthers' program was when Cristobal arrived in 2007, with FIIU fresh off an 0-12 season, the infamous Orange Bowl brawl with Miami , and NCAA sanctions. Three seasons later FIU, picked to finish eighth in their conference, will win the Sun Belt and play in their first-ever bowl game if they can hold serve at home against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee State to end the season.
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland . The only reason the Fridge is even still employed by the Terps is because the school couldn't afford his buyout at the end of 2009, and it was no surprise when Friedgen's team was pegged for dead last in the ACC Atlantic this offseason. Instead of tuning out their supposedly lame-duck coach, though, the Terps have surged back to a 7-4 season with a big win vs. rivals Navy and road victories at Virginia and bowl-bound Boston College , putting them in contention for the division title as recently as last week.
Mike Haywood, Miami (Ohio) . It's hard to believe that the 7-4 Redhawks could win the MAC East when you consider how supremely hopeless they were in 2009, when they failed to score a single point until their third game and finished 1-11. In the MAC. But Miami served notice in a valiant season-opening effort against Florida that Haywood had made the absolute most of the offseason, and if they can claim an eighth win they'll have their most victories since 2004.
Posted on: November 19, 2010 6:24 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
We're less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and apparently the NCAA has taken that into consideration with this week's schedule. It seems they're kind enough not to give us anything too heavy this weekend so that we're able to gorge ourselves to death on Thursday.
The NCAA: always concerned about the fan and their digestive limitations.
Main Course - Michigan vs. #6 Wisconsin - Noon - ESPNListen, people, if Bret Bielema can put up 83 points on Indiana, then surely he can do the same against a Michigan defense that has been the polar-opposite of stout this season. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Badgers shoot for 100 this weekend.
First of all, they need a win a win to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive, and second of all, the Badgers have some BCS computers to impress. What's more impressive than 100 points?
There's also the fact that Bielema has already gotten Tim Brewster fired this season, and may have added Bill Lynch to his tally last week as well. Why wouldn't he take a shot at Rich Rodriguez?
Side Orders: Not much else of importance on Saturday morning, but there are options. Oklahoma State goes to Kansas looking to stay atop the Big 12 South division, and West Virginia will try to keep its slim BCS hopes alive on the road against Louisville. There's also the battle of North Carolina when the Tar Heels take on N.C. State. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan State looks to maintain its spot on top of the Big Ten hosting Purdue.
Main Course - #21 Iowa vs. #8 Ohio State - 3:30pm - ABCWe have a couple of games featuring ranked teams during the afternoon, but in my opinion, this one should grab top-billing. Iowa saw its chances at winning the Big Ten ruined by Northwestern last week, so what could be better for the Hawkeyes than to ruin Ohio State's chances?
After all, it was Ohio State that beat the Hawkeyes last season and ended their hopes of going to the Rose Bowl, so why not return the favor?
If nothing else, it's just another chance for Ricky Stanzi to spread the message of loving America and hating hippies throughout the country.
Side Orders: The other ranked game this afternoon features Miami and Virginia Tech. Miami has a very slim chance to win the ACC Coastal division, but in order to keep those hopes alive, they have to knock off a Hokies team that's won eight straight since dropping that game to James Madison. There's also some Les Miles fun on the mothership when LSU hosts Ole Miss, and seriously, after all that's gone on surrounding the game, how can you not tune in to Illinois and Northwestern at Wrigley Field? I'll be at that game witnessing the insanity from the press box.
Main Course - Maryland vs. Florida State - 8pm - ABCThe game that would decide the ACC Atlantic!
Who saw this one coming? Essentially, the winner of this game will be going to the ACC Championship Game in a few weeks. Now, while seeing Florida State in this position doesn't come as much of a shock, the fact that Maryland is here is rather surprising.
Though that's just the way the ACC rolls these days. One minute you're terrible, and then the next you still aren't very good, but you're good enough. Seriously the ACC should adopt the motto of "Hey, at least we aren't the Big East!"
Side Orders: If ranked teams are more your thing, then you can check out Texas A&M and Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers look to hold on to their ticket to Dallas while the Aggies -- who have done a 180 this season -- still want a chance to buy one. Mississippi State and Arkansas will be going at it in Starkville as well. Also, if you're into football games being played in baseball stadiums that use two end zones, Notre Dame and Army continue their annual rivalry on Saturday night, but this time from Yankee Stadium. Show up and chant Derek Jeter's name for no reason!
Late Night SnackUtah has not had a good November. One week its getting pasted by TCU at home, and the next it's getting beat up on the road by a mediocre Notre Dame team missing half of its offense. Now they get to take on a San Diego State team that played TCU much better than the Utes did.
Tags: Arkansas, Army, Bill Lynch, Bret Bielema, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, James Madison, Kansas, Les Miles, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Rich Rodriguez, Ricky Stanzi, San Diego State, Saturday Meal Plan, TCU, Texas A&M, Tim Brewster, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 16, 2010 12:00 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Over the weekend, Wisconsin had to host Indiana without the services of its top running back John Clay, and the effects of his absence were painfully obvious to anyone who watched the game. Without Clay rumbling through the Indiana defense, the Badgers were stopped short of 100 points and only able to manage a paltry 83.
So, obviously, if the Badgers are going to hang 100 on Michigan this weekend in Ann Arbor, it'd be nice if they could get Clay back. Though according to head coach Bret Bielema, the odds of Clay being ready to go on Saturday don't seem too good.
“I don’t know if we’ll have that three-headed thing this week because John I think won’t be at full strength. But when that situation does pop up, whether it’s the next game or in the bowl game opportunity, it’s something you’ve got to be smart about when and how you use them,” Bielema told the Detroit Free Press. “I think it’s hard to get three guys in rhythm all the way through, but you can definitely go a strong two and the third one comes in when he’s needed.”
Clay sprained his right knee in Wisconsin's win over Purdue on November 6th.
If he can't go this weekend, the Badgers will once again have to rely on Montee Ball and James White. Those two only combined for 311 yards and five touchdowns against Indiana, so who knows how well they'll perform against Michigan's vaunted run defense?
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 23, 2010 9:15 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This was more than a football game; this was a 12-round heavyweight slugfight, one befitting a spot in the Rocky series. Wisconsin won this fight, 31-30, and the one-point margin only underscores how closely matched Iowa and the Badgers were. But in the end, this was about Wisconsin going that extra inch to get its win -- and the Heartland Trophy.
Just ask J.J. Watt , the Badgers' standout DE, and defensive hero for the second straight week. In the first quarter, Watt swung the momentum of the game by blocking an Iowa extra point and keeping the game at 6-3. After 52 more points scored in the rest of the game, that one single point would prove to be the margin of victory.
"I've always told my defense that to me, the truest test of what a defense is all about is how they play PAT, because any time you're on the field and it's a PAT situation, it means that you were just scored upon, and how are you going to react?" Bret Bielema said. "The reaction was unbelievable and ends up being the difference in the game."
That blocked PAT wouldn't have been of much significance if Montee Ball hadn't stretched across the goal line by three inches with about a minute left, and Ball probably wouldn't have been able to score that touchdown without a crucial fake punt call on fourth and 4 from Wisconsin's own 26. With everyone on Iowa's punt return team playing for the return, Badgers punter Brad Nortman streaked up the middle of the field for 17 yards. Afterwards, Nortman and Bielema confirmed that it was the coaches' call to fake it from the start.
"It was all the coaches, all the coaches," Nortman said. "When I got the snap, I saw the wide-open field, a couple blockers in front of me, and I just ran. Once I got down the field, I knew it was a great call."
Watt also came through in the fourth quarter. With Iowa holding a first down near midfield with 35 seconds left, Watt finally broke through for the Badgers' first sack of the game, dropping quarterback Ricky Stanzi for a loss of 11 yards, running nine seconds off, and forcing the Hawkeyes to burn a timeout. And sure enough, Iowa's drive ended on the Badgers' 35-yard line, running out of time just outside of field-goal range because the Hawkeyes had burned their last timeout.
After the game, Watt wore his battle scars proudly, the bridge of his nose still freshly bleeding, as he reflected happily on what he considers the high point of Wisconsin's season so far.
"I really think it tops last week," Watt told reporters. "We had so many guys banged up, we're here in a tough environment against a tough team; to come here and do what we did is so unbelievable and a testament to our team."
Watt admitted that with a bye week coming up next, he's going to savor this Badger win that puts them in a dominant second-place position behind the still-unbeaten Michigan State Spartans.
"I'm going to take this one in, and I'm going to take [last week's win against] Ohio State in, because we didn't really have much time to take Ohio State in," Watt said. "I'm going to take a day or two here, watch the game films, and just let it sink in, but then after that we're going to come right back and start focusing on the last four games of the season."
Of course, with such a close final margin, the losing team usually has plenty to rue afterwards, and for the Hawkeyes, today will be no exception. Aside from the blocked extra point and fake punt given up, Iowa placeholder Ryan Donahue fumbled the snap on a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, costing his team a shot at three points.
Further, and perhaps worse, the Iowa endgame clock management will be under close scrutiny from fans and coaches alike. With the Hawkeyes facing a fourth and 1 at Wisconsin's 42-yard line, Stanzi ran a keeper for the first down, then let three seconds run off the clock while signaling a spike before calling Iowa's last timeout with 13 seconds remaining -- a call that, minus the few wasted seconds, Ferentz later said was their plan all along. Alas, the next play was a pass to tailback Adam Robinson in the flat, and when Robinson was tackled inbounds without Iowa being able to stop the clock, well, that was that.
Perhaps it would have been preferable for Iowa and its fans if the Hawkeyes had lost by 10, and if they'd never been so close to attempting a game-winning field goal. But such is the emotional cruelty of college football. If it's any consolation to the Hawkeyes -- and probably scant, at that -- it's that Iowa isn't the first team to lose by the skin of its teeth to the Badgers. Recall that back in September, Wisconsin dispatched Arizona State 20-19 by blocking a tying PAT, and also stopped a potential kick return for a touchdown at the Wisconsin 1-yard line to end the first half in that game.
Again, yes, it's scant consolation for Iowa, but anything would be after such a devastating loss -- one where the Hawkeyes seemed just inches away from victory.