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 22, 2010 6:04 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 7:06 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here are your three finalists for the 2010 Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back:
This process seems to be little more than a formality, as James is currently the nation's top yards-per-game rusher leading the nation's top-scoring offense on the nation's top-ranked team. If he doesn't win this award, there should be an immediate federal investigation. I am only mostly kidding.
The big question, of course, is what in the world is Clay doing on this list? Yes, he has missed two games, so his overall totals are going to be a bit underwhelming. But even taking that into account, Clay is only 19th in the nation (17th among running backs) in rushing yards per game; he's outperformed by Marcus Lattimore, Mikel LeShoure, and many other tailbacks. Clay's barely even the most productive running back on his own team; freshman teammate James White has 34 fewer yards on 44 fewer carries, and just as many rushing touchdowns. And teammate Montee Ball is currently outperforming both of them; in the three November games played thus far, Ball has rushed for 467 yards and nine scores.
Yes, Wisconsin's rushing game is a thing of terrible beauty at times, and it warrants praise and recognition, but this isn't a team award. And even if it's a deadbolt lock that LaMichael James takes this trophy home in December, it still would have been nice of the committee to offer up three actually worthy candidates.
Tags: 2010 Doak Walker, 2010 Doak Walker Finalists, Doak Walker Award, Doak Walker Finalists, James White, John Clay, John Clay Doak Walker, Kendall Hunter, Kendall Hunter Doak Walker, LaMichael James, LaMichael James Doak Walker, Marcus Lattimore, Mikel LeShoure, Montee Ball, Oklahoma State, Oregon, 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: 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.