Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Wisconsin has stumbled and stammered this season, and the fanbase has turned emo. For the sake of us all, the Badgers could really use a dominant win over Illinois this weekend.
I have really enjoyed the conversations happening in the comment sections here, even if I think some of you could stand to be hugged by your nearest father figure before hitting "Reply" again. Bubbling angst boiled over on Facebook, Twitter, and message boards, and was no doubt carried over to local supermarket floors and barbershop chairs following Wisconsin's 30-27 loss to Nebraska on Saturday. I didn't take to the web, but I did find a find a buddy and several beers to commiserate with. Hugs were had.
In some ways, I think it's good that fans are taking the loss this hard. It is, in part, a sign that expectations are extraordinarily high for the program, thanks to a build-up of success culminating in a pair of Rose Bowls. This year we are looking at what feels like an 8-4 team. Wisconsin has suffered through worse, as have a lot of good teams coming of great stretches of winning. The fact that anyone is up in arms means that the program has won enough to make leaner times seem far away. Winning is good and fun.
The last five weeks haven't been particularly fun for Badger fans (minus the 30 seconds we were allowed to enjoy the Utah State game). We've had to deal with a coach being fired, budding quarterback controversy, injuries to star players and one particularly gut-wrenching loss. There is a bit more to the angst than just losing a couple games, but the prescription is easy: Kick the snot out of Illinois.
The Illini are reeling at 2-3 overall with all three loss coming by at least 28 points. Penn State cruised to a 35-7 victory last week by forcing three turnovers and enjoying arguably their best offensive performance to date. Wisconsin needs something they can definitively feel good about, and a 20-plus point, 60-minute win over a rival would be just that. Forget the anxiety, the Badgers have improved in some way each week of the season and it's time they put all of their best bits together for a warm, flannel down comforter of a victory at home before heading to West Lafayette for a key intra-division bout.
Wisconsin is about a two-touchdown favorite over Illinois this weekend. I'm skeptical because we still haven't seen the Badgers play that far above an opponent this season outside of the good parts of the Nebraska game. I'm hopeful though, because--fergodssake--I could us the peace of mind.
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