The Badgers pulled together to beat a a scrappy Purdue team this past week. It wasn't pretty but 17-9 got it done by a score and a 2-pt. conversion which is a respectable, if not convincing, win.
To be fair, both teams left points on the field. Purdue got stopped on the punt block, which could have scored. Which reminds me that on the play, I disagreed with the announcers, particularly Millen, who said that the Purdue returner could have walked in had he not pulled his hamstring. That's BS as you can see on the replay that there was an alert Badger player on the 5 yard line in position to stop him. But I digress...
The Badgers defense had to save the game. Several turnovers, 2 INTs thrown by Hornibrook and a fumble, almost cost Wisconsin the game. The offense looked poised to throw it away at every opportunity, yet the Badger defense stood firm, giving up only 3 field goals on a very short field for Purdue. The defense was not perfect. A 3rd and long incomplete pass happened where Leon-Jacobs got called for defensive holding even though his man who wasn't anywhere near the ball. This cost the defense a lot of energy with 4 new downs and took the ball away from the offense.
Maybe this was a good thing since the offense was starting to self destruct at that point. Then again, perhaps getting the ball there would have helped them keep their groove which they somehow lost after 2 great opening drives. Really, the offense couldn't have started the game better, the 1st drive ending with a long running TD and the second with a nice passing score. Talk about balance, baby! Then, just when the offense had Purdue guessing, they went into predictable mode. They ran the same play counter play over and over on the same downs, until Purdue learned how to defense it. And when Hornibrook had all the time in the world to throw, he missed the mark by A LOT. Where's Houston when you need him? Hornibrook just doesn't impress me much. He can't scramble, slow, can't dodge anyone and is very inconsistent in the pocket. But he's a 19 year-old college kid, right? Just need him to mature NOW! And work on his quickness! Furthermore the offense threw away points with the fumble on Purdue's 4 yard line. It would be easy to blame the ball-carrier, Taylor, on that fumble but the run was poorly blocked and hands were all-over him at the time. Also, that play call was just too easy to guess and that run was seen coming a mile away. Where' s the barge?!?! Flee flicker?!? And how about grooming one of the backs to throw a pass?!?
OK, one play calling bright spot was the wildcat play to Grochek that netted 11 yards and a 1st down!
YES YES MORE LIKE THAT PAUL!!!
So maybe they are saving some of those plays up for later because, after all, this is Purdue at home. But let's give some credit here! Purdue's Defensive front was, and is, pretty stout! They made plays and punched back. In fact, they were having THEIR WAY with our offense through much of the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
Much to reflect on from this game, and then....MOVE ON.
So how was this week from a Badger Homer's perspective and how would I like to see the season play out from here?
First off, the B1G West, Uuuhg. Why does Nebraska have to play SO miserably one week after we beat them?!? They are not as bad as they looked against OSU but it's like they just gave up. I think OSU couldn't have caught them at a better time. On the flip side, I feel like the Buckeyes are not as good a team as everyone thinks.
Wisconsin has had this curse of beating teams and sending them into a tailspin. Case in point, LSU. After we beat them last year in Lambeau, they fired their coach, lost their starting heisman candidate and had their worst season in years. In fact, they STILL haven't fully recovered from this! Another case in point, Michigan State who, after they lost at home to Wisconsin last year, their season fell apart and they went from BiG darling to basement within a few games! And Nebraska has had the misfortune of playing us every year since they are in the B1G West so they have gotten steadily worse. So as a Badger fan, I argue that these teams are not bad, they just start to have some serious self-doubt after losing to a much better than advertised Wisconsin team. And, granted, they are the biggest losers in this scenario, but what is not stated is that the BADGERS LOSE IN THIS SCENARIO TOO!!! Because when these teams self-destruct after losing to us, they, by inference, make the Badgers look worse! SEC fans start that old mantra, "They haven't beaten anyone."
Bottom line, It sucks for both parties.
So, Minnesota, start WINNING! A late comeback against the Spartans at home was nice but FINISH!
Illinois, BEAT FREAKING RUTGERS AT HOME!
In other news, Northwestern beats a highly touted Maryland team on the road, the same Terrapins who beat the Longhorns in Texas. YES! (Now if NW could just have beaten Duke!?!)
And, in the East, Michigan beat Indiana, which helps because we want them with a nice FAT ranking when we pummel them in Madison.
Ideally, I would like to see us in the BIG Championship and beat either Ohio State or Penn State, the two most highly esteemed programs in the B1G right now, preferably a revenge win over PSU after last year, but it's close because I really dislike OSU more and we owe them for a beatdown in the B1G championship a couple years ago.
The rest of the college FB nation worked out pretty well with the upsets that happened. To sum it up, If the Badgers keep winning and the rest of the FBS keeps on the way it is, we are going to the NATTY, BABY!
And I really think we have the squad that will win it all! TEAM OF DESTINY!