You guys, college basketball is back! I know that is not at the top of the list of “Things Badger Fans Care About” right now, as it is behind the College Football Playoff rankings, Alex Hornibrook’s advanced stats that prove you are right about his skill level, and whether or not I should be the new athletic director (#DrewHamm4AD).
The young Badgers should be equal parts exciting and frustrating this season, but you should definitely be paying attention. Ethan Happ is a potential All-American, Khalil Iverson is going to yam on dudes’ noggins all season, Brad Davison is a more talented Zak Showalter and the rest of the conference is going to despise him, Andy Van Vliet looks like he’s finally ready to contribute, Kobe King can #fillitup, Charles Thomas ... still plays for the team.
This is a rebuilding year for the Badgers, but we have an awesome schedule and if the team makes the NCAA tournament, which I think they will, who knows what a battle-tested group of youngsters could accomplish?!? Also, Indiana got STOMPED at home by Indiana State already, which is just ... it’s just amazing. And three UCLA freshmen got arrested in China for shoplifting! And Duke already played MSU and Kentucky already played Kansas!! College basketball does such a great job of scheduling non-conference showdowns. And the FBI might arrest all of our rivals’ coaches, or even our own, who knows?!?!
I’ll start posting a college basketball roast once the football season ends/once conference play starts, so be on the lookout for that! /everyone groans
Here’s this week’s boring slate of B1G football games that we have to yell about. Maybe I should start talking about the other teams in the top-five of the CFP?
S&P+ rank: 65th overall, 101st offense, 30th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Illinois 24–14
Biggest strength: Yay, Indiana! First B1G win of the season and you did it against ... wait a second. Is Illinois still in the conference? Didn’t they get relegated to the CFL or something? We’ll have to belay those celebratory fireworks until we get to the bottom of this, IU. Anyways, Richard Lagow threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns and the defense sacked Jeff George, Jr., a bunch. Good work, Hoosiers, even if your win was against a team that UW-Whitewater could beat seven out of 10 times.
Biggest weakness: I took my daughter to see my parents in Philly on Sunday and then my grandmother, who lives in D.C., came up and surprised us because she hadn’t met my daughter yet. It was a fun, family time, and I liked it a lot. The one part I did not like was when my grandmother asked me if I had to curse so often in these posts. First of all, my grandmother is an extremely smart woman, so I don’t know why she’s reading this nonsense to begin with outside of supporting her numbskull of a grandson. Second of all, I don’t think I’ve ever received face-to-face criticism of my writing. Most people tell me, “Oh, it was ... fine” when I force them to read it in front of me so I can see if they laugh. Anyways, I do not like upsetting my grandmother, so this column will no longer be “working blue.” Unless P.J. Fleck does something especially egregious leading up to our game.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Rutgers
S&P+ rank: 106th overall, 96th offense, 85th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Michigan 35–10
Biggest strength: JAKE MOTHER EFFING FUNK HAD THE STAT LINE TO END ALL STAT LINES AGAINST MICHIGAN! HE HAD THREE CARRIES FOR ONE YARD AND FOR SOME REASON THREW A PASS (THAT HE COMPLETED) FOR THREE YARDS! Jake Funk needs to start at quarterback next week, Terps. Just do it. You literally started your fourth quarterback of the season (someone named Ryan Brand drew the short straw for Maryland), so what’s the harm in giving Funk some run? Answer: THERE IS NO HARM! TURN THE KEYS OVER TO FUNK, BABY!
Biggest weakness: Lorenzo Harrison III had one catch for -14 yards. You know who always gains positive yards when he has the ball? Jake Funk. I’m officially applying to be Maryland’s offensive coordinator next year and our offense will not only want the funk, we’ll need the funk. Somehow, Maryland out-gained Michigan in this game. I don’t know what this means other than that Michigan’s offense is more inept than the one Ball brother that the dad doesn’t like who couldn’t properly steal sunglasses in China.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: at No. 17 Michigan State
S&P+ rank: 16th overall, 53rd offense, 6th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Maryland 35–10
Biggest strength: Chris Evans ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns and I’m sure the defense played well both because they are always good and Maryland was starting their fourth-string quarterback ... and is Maryland playing football. Jim Harbaugh seems like a fun guy to play for: “Start making them. You’ve got to make them,” Harbaugh told his kicker (after he missed a field goal in the first half). “I think anger’s a powerful motivator,” he said with a laugh. “Hahahahahaha,” Harbaugh went on to add, chuckling, “I’ve got your parents tied up in the basement of a warehouse in Detroit. Good look seeing them ever again if you miss a kick in the second half!” Jim Harbaugh can eat my shorts.
Biggest weakness: Folks, I know we are all grumpy about Gameday being in Madison for a game that kicks off at 11 a.m., but I’m imploring you to show up for this game on time (/glares at student section and mutters something about “back in my day”). I’m assuming FOX made this an 11 a.m. kick just to stick it to ESPN, but we can’t let the petty fighting amongst two dying relics of the cable TV era distract us from what’s really important: Brandon Peters is scared of playing in Madison.
“I heard it’s pretty rowdy there,” he said over the weekend.
Brandon Peters should be scared of playing in Camp Randall. His four career games have been at Purdue (one pass), home against Rutgers and Minnesota, and on the road against Maryland. Peters has thrown four touchdowns this year and zero interceptions. That will not stand and I demand that we (I’m actually going to be at the game this week!) make Peters uncomfortable from the moment he steps on the field until Harbaugh is forced to bench him for Jake Funk, or the Michigan equivalent of him.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at No. 5 Wisconsin
S&P+ rank: 39th overall, 103rd offense, 12th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 13 Ohio State 48–3
Biggest strength: Ummmmmmm, the Spartans had two fourth-down conversions to the Buckeyes’ zero? So, when we arrived in Philly, we went down to the baggage claim, because when you travel with a baby you need to bring 1,000 things with you, and there are pigeons everywhere! Like, Philadelphia is a great city full of history and culture and great bars and restaurants ... and the first thing people see when they get there is a bunch of flying rats in the airport? Get it together, Philly! My daughter thought the pigeons were funny though ... so there’s that.
Biggest weakness: I haven’t seen this shocking of a scoreline since the last time Ohio State took the field and got boat-raced by Iowa. MSU was dominated in every facet of the game and Brian Lewerke came back down to Earth (131 yards and two picks) after two weeks of throwing for over 400 yards. L.J. Scott had 30 yards rushing and has only rushed for over 100 yards in one game this year. The Spartans still haven’t won a conference game by more than one score and I think we’ll all look back on this team as one which had a far better record than they should have. You aren’t fooling me, Mark Dantonio. I’ve got my eye on you.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: vs. Maryland
S&P+ rank: 1st overall, 4th offense, 14th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. No. 12 Michigan State 48–3
Biggest strength: J.T. Barrett had four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) and Mike Weber and House Elf Dobbins each ran for over 120 yards. Antonio Williams chipped in six yards on four carries. Tuf Borland had 11 tackles and a sack and the defense limited MSU to 195 total yards. This was just the sort of game that aOsu needed after the Iowa loss that I’m still not 100 percent sure happened. There is even talk that the Buckeyes could get back in the CFP picture if they win out and beat an unbeaten Wisconsin in the B1G Championship Game.
Biggest weakness: Not much, really. This past week of B1G football was kind of boring, huh? This coming week should be even more boring (outside of the Wisconsin game) and that stinks. How does a conference with six ranked teams have only one game where both contestants are over .500? The B1G is the best at boring, though, so maybe we should just stay in our lane. You can currently get a ticket to the Minnesota/Northwestern game for as low as $2. Too cheap not to buy imo.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. Illinois
S&P+ rank: 8th overall, 24th offense, 9th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Rutgers 35–6
Biggest strength: 899 rushing yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 11 TDs, 40 receptions, 524 receiving yards, three TDs. Those are Former Heisman Candidate Saquon Barkley’s stats. Here are Yung Yards After Contact Jonathan Taylor’s stats: 1,525 rushing yards, 7.0 yards per carry, 12 TDs, three receptions, 55 receiving yards. I’m so mad that Taylor doesn’t get the ball on the goal line for Wisconsin. Anyways, Taylor is better than Barkley and that’s final.
Biggest weakness: Oh yeah ... PSU walloped Rutgers after being down 6–0 and giving every Sal, Mikey, and Tamara in New Jersey hope of an upset. Trace McSorley set the school record for touchdowns and James Franklin walked out of his press conference after a reporter asked him whether or not an injured player would play the next week. I wish Keegan-Michael Key was actually the coach of Penn State.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: vs. Nebraska
S&P+ rank: 96th overall, 121st offense, 42nd defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 14 Penn State 35–6
Biggest strength: Recovered an opening onside kick! Andy Reid did this against Dallas to start the 2000 season and the Eagles bodied the Cowboys in the “Pickle Juice Game”. I wish more teams would start off games with onside kicks. It’s the bee’s knees. Robert Martin ran for 71 yards on 11 carries for the Scarlet Knights. Their kicker made both of his field goal attempts.
Biggest weakness: My wife was not pleased with me after reading my column last week where I talked about her eating chocolate chips in the bathroom and farting, so allow me to start off this anecdote by saying it is NOT ABOUT MY WIFE, WHOM I LOVE DEARLY AND OF WHOM I WOULD NEVER SPEAK POORLY. On Tuesday morning as I was boarding the plane to go home to Minnesota, someone also on the flight was asked by me if they farted while we were waiting in line. That someone turned to me and said “haha suckers, buuuurrrrrrriiiiittttttoooooo!” I believe that person, who shall remain nameless, had eaten a breakfast burrito before boarding the plane. But I can’t be sure because I don’t know who this person is. This definitely belongs in the Buttgers section. (Editor’s note: Hamm you’ve done it again! Here’s 1 million dollars.)
Side note: do you think Shaggy wrote the song “It Wasn’t Me” because he was a serial farter in public places?
I really think we need to add The Shaggy Corollary to the Whoever Smelt It, Dealt It Law.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Indiana
S&P+ rank: 112th overall, 122nd offense, 69th defense (nice)
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Indiana 24–14
Biggest strength: Somebody named Louis Dorsey (is the entire Illini roster generated by NCAA Football 14? No one can be sure) caught three passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Jeff George, Jr., only turned the ball over in the fourth quarter. Admittedly, he turned it over three times in that quarter, but let’s not quibble over whether or not he’s the worst quarterback in the conference (country?) when we are trying to be positive here. Lovie Smith has some post-game quotes that made it seem like he was paying attention for the whole game! Illinois is trending up!
Biggest weakness: In the spirit of no longer cursing in these posts, and the fact that my wife called me a “ding dong” last night, I think we should discuss underrated insults to call someone. “Ding dong” is near the top for me—I LOL’d pretty hard when she called me that. My buddy JoshO has been known to call people “clown shoes” and I think that is hilarious. “Dingus” is a great term too.
My friend Joel called another friend “asscheese” the other day, which is as graphic as it is funny. Wait, is “ass” a curse word? Was that on George Carlin’s list? We’ll say it isn’t a curse word so I can keep it in the post. Man, this Indiana/Illinois game was dumb. I’ve already forgotten everything I’ve read about it.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at No. 9 Ohio State
S&P+ rank: 55th overall, 108th offense, 19th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 8 Wisconsin 38-14
Biggest strength: I spent much of the last few days trying to figure out how to properly shame Iowa for their offensive performance against Wisconsin on Saturday, but I think numbers shall do the work of words here: 66 total yards, 0-for-13 on third down, five first downs, 26 rushes for 25 yards, three turnovers (still fewer than Wisconsin but shut up), zero points. Joshua Jackson had two (!!!) pick-sixes and has five picks in his last two games. He should fake sick next week and just suit up for an actual good team to see what it feels like.
Biggest weakness: Did, uh, did you hear how many yards Iowa gained on Saturday? The Hawkeyes fell 20 spots in overall S&P+ and 30 spots in offensive S&P+!!!!! Playing Wisconsin’s defense is hazardous to your health. Wisconsin’s defense is that old Chuck Norris meme. Wisconsin’s defense has never made a bad tweet. Wisconsin’s defense is bigger than Bill Brasky. Wisconsin’s defense wants Bama ... well, let’s not get carried away here. Nathan Stanley returned home to Wisconsin and completed eight of 24 passes for 41 yards and a pick. He also lost a fumble. Proof that he’s a true Iowan now! Akrum Wadley might as well have stayed at the team hotel for how productive he was and the defense, outside of Jackson and the always awesome Josey Jewell, was mainly useless.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. Purdue
S&P+ rank: 70th overall, 104th offense, 31st defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Nebraska 54–21
Biggest strength: They ran the dang ball all over Nebraska’s face. Demry Croft ran for 183 yards and three TDs, Rodney Smith ran for 134 yards and Kobe McCray ran for 93 yards and three more TDs. They need to win at Northwestern, which I assume no one ever does, or beat Wisconsin for the first time since the Mesozoic Age to get bowl-eligible. Good luck, Gophers.
If you live in the Twin Cities, you know that the Flecks drive a Cadillac from Key Cadillac. Personally, I’m a bit disappointed that the Flecks don’t literally row a boat everywhere. Just another example of P.J. Fleck being a shady huckster who moves from town to town peddling his snake oil.
If you aren’t actually going to row a boat to work, then don’t make that your team’s slogan. Please imagine the “clapping hands” emoji between all of the words of the last sentence.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at No. 23 Northwestern
S&P+ rank: 90th overall, 77th offense, 89th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Minnesota 54–21
Biggest strength: Medical evaluations of players. Quarterback Tanner Lee was held out of the second half of the game with an “impact migraine” or what you or I might call “a concussion.” Are concussions trying to rebrand themselves? That’s a ballsy move. The Huskers went for it on fourth down six times, which I honestly love, but only got the first down twice. This Nebraska team has nothing to lose and they’re playing fast and loose ... and bad!
Biggest weakness: Two quotes from the Head Husker for you.
“It started bad and went from there,” Nebraska coach Mike Riley said. “The opening kickoff was really a setback for us. It didn’t have to be a killer. I thought we responded really well, and then we responded again after that and then got stopped on fourth down, and we never really did stop them from there.”
“We have had very few issues, except for the games,” said Riley.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: at No. 10 Penn State
S&P+ rank: 62nd overall, 86th offense, 38th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Purdue 23–13
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Minnesota
S&P+ rank: 43rd overall, 71st offense, 28th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 25 Northwestern 23–13
Biggest strength: Purdue’s quarterback threw the ball 60 times (!!!), so that was probably a pretty good workout for him. Jared Sparks had 11 catches for 130 yards and ... OMG who cares? Let’s head over to Drew’s NBA Corner! The Sixers lost a head-scratcher to the Kings last week but beat the Clippers on Monday night and Joel Embiid was as dominant as Wisconsin’s defense. He also gave a wonderful interview after the game where he talked enough junk that Gary Payton would blush.
The Bucks have won three in a row, including one at San Antonio, which is pretty impressive until you compare it to the fact that the Warriors have won seven games in a row. That has to be the longest winning streak in the NBA, right? Hold on, the Celtics have won 13 GAMES IN A ROW!?!?! And guess which two teams are playing each other on Thursday night? Tune into TNT, friends, it’s gonna be a barnburner. Lastly, LeBron is King of New York and also the subway now.
Biggest weakness: I’ve been struggling recently to not buy eggnog every time I go to the grocery store. Much like Christmas decorations not going up until after Thanksgiving, I can’t bring myself to drink nog until Dec. 1. Throw some brandy in there and you’ve got yourself quite the cold, winter night treat! And if any of you come in here with nog hate, know this: I’ll freak. I’ll freak right the hell out. There will be no nog slander on this blog. Eggnog rules and you don’t.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at Iowa
S&P+ rank: 3rd overall, 35th offense, 1st defense (EAT IT, ALABAMA!!!!!!!!! And also Washington, who has been ranked first most of the season.)
Last week’s result: (W) vs. No. 20 Iowa 38–14
Biggest strength: The defense. The Wisconsin Badgers’ 2017 defense is so good, epic poems should be written about it. I want to kiss every member of the defense on the lips and also buy them a new iPad (but I won’t, NCAA!) so they can play Snake or Candy Crush or whatever the kids are playing on those these days. The defense is so good that I want the offense to go three-and-out and punt so I can watch them methodically destroy the opposing offense’s game plan and confidence. I know the defense is good for at least one touchdown a week anyways. Yung YAC had 157 yards; Kendric Pryor had two touches and two touchdowns (#efficiency); Danny Davis had four catches for 74 yards; Leon Jacobs recovered two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown, and had a sack; T.J. Edwards had a preposterous interception ...I could keep going but I don’t think I should list every player on the team for fear of blood starting to shoot out Mike’s eyes whilst editing.
(Editor’s note: Yeah, I definitely needed to take my contacts out after reading that.)
Biggest weakness: Look, we all know where this is headed and I feel like we’ve all been there before and HATED IT! Let’s not do this to ourselves for the next three or four (or five?????) games and two more seasons following that. Alex Hornibrook is who we thought he is.
We need to be fine with this, and I’ve been struggling with this more than most. He just throws the most maddening interceptions. THEY ARE JUST SO BAD! But then ... but then he drops a dime in the red zone and you’re all, “Where has this guy been?!?!” Anyways, my wife looked up from her phone at the start of the second half and muttered at the TV, “Hornibrook, you turn the ball over and I’m gonna turn you over my leg and paddle you.” Her motherly instincts are off the charts.
Let’s all agree this week to support Hornibrook throughout the entire game even after he somehow manages to throw an interception on the opening kickoff. Also, uh, Jonathan Taylor? Please stop carrying the ball like it’s a hornet’s nest and you are allergic to hornets. The ball is your friend that tells it like it is without being condescending about it, it is valuable, and you should keep it close to you.
The game against Michigan is going to be a real rock fight and I, for one, can’t freaking wait.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. No. 24 Michigan