Folks, I am just so happy to be back at the greatest Badgers blog in all of Blogfrica. Since college basketball season ended, I’ve had a daughter. Well, technically, she was born the week college basketball season ended, so she’s already experienced her first #BadgerHeartbreak. On the bright side, she experienced her first Badger buzzer beater too! Stupid Florida... you can keep your meth-fueled, Wal-Mart parking lot, custody battle, knife fights and just stay out of the NCAA tournament as far as I’m concerned.
Crap, where was I? Right, my daughter! She is wonderful and has so much Badger gear already that I can’t wait to show her off at tailgates this fall. She, unlike most of the Big 12, makes waking up every day a joy. I’m sure she’ll be extremely proud of all of the 69 jokes I’ve made on Twitter in my life some day.
Speaking of Twitter, I’m sure you all... or maybe just Jon Arens and Jake... or maybe no one (let’s go with the last one) has noticed that I haven’t been shouting about what type of sandwich a hot dog is (not one) or how many times I’ve wanted to fist-fight PJ Fleck since I’ve moved to Minnesota (69 times). I finally decided to take the internet’s mantra of “Never Tweet” to heart and take some time off from the ‘Ol Tweet Box. Let me tell you something, friends: it has been SO DANG ENJOYABLE! I’ve been reading more (I started Jake’s book on Wednesday and his writing is as excellent as his Hawaiian shirt collection) and spending time with my daughter, who would prefer I was actually a phone since she can’t stop grabbing at it no matter where it is, and mowing the lawn like a good suburbanite. However, I couldn’t feel like something was missing.
Now that college football season is just around the corner (because last weekend’s games didn’t count since we all forgot about them), I have a lot of hate in my heart that needs to be let out. Hatred is what binds us together during the blistering-hot first games of September, the frigidly snowy last games of November, and any time you have to travel to New Jersey and play Rutgers, regardless of the weather.
Let us all hate together now on the eve of another glorious fall of drinking too much and thinking we know who to start at quarterback even if Joel Sta... oh man. Almost lost control of that intro. I’m pretty sure we are still banning people around here due to He Who Shall Not Be Staved and the arguments surrounding his QB play.
S&P+ rank: 41st overall, 70th offense, 27th defense
Biggest strength: One thing you may not know about having a baby: it takes up a lot of your time. I don’t know anything about these teams unless they are named Wisconsin or the Sixers (#trusttheprocess). If you are looking for that, give Bill C.’s conference preview a look and educate yourself.
They made their head coach resign—is that a thing? No matter, Kevin Wilson left the program due to “creative differences” with the administration on how best to treat players with brain injuries. Kevin Wilson, like Tim Beckman before him, is a certified horse’s ass and I hope he stubs his toe on a piece of furniture every time he gets up to get a glass of water in the middle of the night.
Biggest weakness: Their starting quarterback wears No. 21 and their old starting quarterback/international art thief Zander Diamont retired due to injury. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. No. 2 Ohio State, featuring the ESPN MEGACAST!
S&P+ rank: 70th overall, 90th offense, 44th defense
Biggest strength: Apparently their running game is good and explosive. In a conference that prides itself on being a decade behind everyone else in offensive innovation, it’s exciting to see the Terps only be nine years behind the rest of the country in developing an explosive rushing attack out of multiple sets. I can’t remember if I’ve said this here before and I’ve gone back and forth in my own mind MULTIPLE TIMES but... I love all the ridiculous flag gear that Maryland has. I’d walk around ensconced in a velvet Maryland state flag if I had gone to school there.
Biggest weakness: Who the hell even knows? I’m assuming their defense is bad, but I seem to remember that their recruiting has been good. Let’s revisit this in the 2019 preview B1G Roast. Brutal schedule this year.
This week’s schedule: Saturday at No. 23 Texas, who went 4–8 last year, and have had three (!!!) consecutive losing seasons. Maybe we should roast their conference instead this year?
S&P+ rank: 10th overall, 40th offense, 5th defense
Biggest strength: Withholding rosters from opposing teams. Being the most smug team to ever finish third in their division. Having a psychopath as head coach.
Biggest weakness: Not getting to play a team that suspends 10 players every week, I’m assuming.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. No. 17 Florida at JerryWorld
S&P+ rank: 54th overall, 80th offense, 35th defense
Biggest strength: Doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to like about MSU this year. LJ Scott is still running around in the backfield, but let’s talk about something that has been bugging me for a while: raw peppers taste like hot garbage. I’d rather chop off a toe than eat raw peppers for dinner. The texture is completely unappealing and the taste might as well be infused with actual trash.
Biggest weakness: Roasted peppers are pretty good, though. And jalapeños. And banana peppers. I guess I just wish raw bell peppers would never be a food option ever again. Kirk Cousins still sucks.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Bowling Green
S&P+ rank: 3rd overall, 14th offense, 3rd defense
Biggest strength: Most football-related things are a strength for the Buckeyes. Much like the amount of Watts at Wisconsin, there is another Bosa at an Ohio state university wreaking havoc on opposition backfields. My buddy Christian lives in Columbus and says it’s pretty cool. He thinks that Chris Wondolowski should be starting for the USMNT, though, so I don’t believe much that he says.
Biggest weakness: J.T. Barrett apparently came to play school with the amount of time he has been around Columbus. Is he on the Gasser Plan? I’ve heard from reputable sources* that Urban Meyer has never once thrown out any of his toenail clippings. In his life.
*Barry Alvarez is the source**
**Bet you thought I was gonna say the source was me, didn’t you? Well, it isn’t. Urban Meyer is just really gross and everyone knows it.
This week’s schedule: Thursday at Indiana
S&P+ rank: 9th overall, 6th offense, 18th defense
Biggest strength: Their deep passing attack in conference championship games in the second half. One year, I went to State College for a game and had to wear a Penn State shirt after they beat Wisconsin and attend a party at my friend’s place. Later that night, three of us used three separate receptacles in a one-room bathroom at a late-night pizza place. The pizza wasn’t anywhere near as good as Ian’s. Basically, Penn State can eat my butt.
Biggest weakness: Letting go of torn-down statues. Has anyone made a “Joe Paterno is basically a Confederate general” joke on Twitter yet? Stonewall Jokeson would have been my Twitter name if Twitter was a thing during the Civil War. Their quarterback’s name is Trace. That is something someone who can’t draw does.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Akron
S&P+ rank: 96th overall, 125th offense, 39th defense
Biggest strength: Remember Bucky’s 5th Quarter Barrel? I enjoyed writing columns about beer and tailgating. We should talk more about that around here. New Glarus Staghorn Oktoberfest is one of the finest beers going and the fact that I have six in my fridge right now makes me want to kiss my freshman-year roommate on the mouth. Not because we had some forbidden roommate romance, although we may have with how much I often had to drink, but because he brought me a six-pack last weekend. Nothing says “Fall” like an Oktoberfest beer, football, sweatshirt weather, and me ignoring anything about Rutgers athletics in a column about college athletics.
Biggest weakness: Old Style made their Oktoberfest for the first time in a long time last year, and by golly it was really freaking good too! I’m also excited to have my one Southern Tier Pumking of the season in a few weeks and have some commenter from Beer Advocate come to my house and punch me in the neck for liking it. Fall is the best season for beer and sports and weather and basically everything.
This week’s schedule: Friday vs. No. 8 Washington. This game makes me sick to my stomach. Washington might win 35 to -17.
S&P+ rank: 85th overall, 104th offense, 58th defense
Biggest strength: I remember thinking that Juice Williams was going to be a PROBLEM when he was a freshman. I also wanted the Eagles to draft Akili Smith at one point in my life, so why are you even still reading this? They’ve got a pair of decent running backs that I’m sure have names.
Biggest weakness: Bill C. mentions the Illini’s biggest question heading into the season is “Can they avoid the onslaught of negative plays?” Onslaught? What are the Illini trying to do, defend The Wall (?) against the Night Man (??) and his zombie (???) army in the most recent season of Game of Thorns (????)? I am up on popular culture. Lovie Smith is just the worst.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Ball State
S&P+ rank: 52nd overall, 107th offense, 16th defense
Biggest strength: The movie documenting how Kirk Ferentz stole so much money from the state Iowa and then showing how the crack team of Christian Bale, Michael Scott from The Office, Brad Pitt, and The Baby Goose brings him down, a la The Big Short, is going to be must-see TV. Ferentz is playing chess while we are all playing chess better than he is... he just has way more money than we do. The defense will be particularly Iowa-y and Josey Jewell (which is the best cowboy name in the B1G since, well, Bart Houston) is good.
Biggest weakness: I recently discovered that my wife is terrified of grasshoppers. She came across one in our garden and dove to cover our daughter like a grenade had grown on our tomato plant and was about to explode. So, uh, if you guys find any grasshoppers in your yard and want to send them to me for a prank I’m planning, I’ll DM you my address. A grasshopper has thrown more collegiate passes than Iowa’s potential starting QBs, I’m pretty sure.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Wyoming
S&P+ rank: 61st overall, 98th offense, 28th defense
Biggest strength: Billboards with “ROW THE BOAT” on them around town. Will probably score more points at home than their co-tenant at Bank Name Stadium, soccer team Minnesota United (COME ON, YOU LOONS!), scored goals this year. Probably. I briefly worked with Drew Wolitarsky this summer and he is a nice guy and a hard worker.
Biggest weakness: Generating excitement around the proverbial water cooler. I work at a restaurant and I’ve had more conversations about Wisconsin’s football team than Minnesota’s this summer. I guess I do work at a pretty high-end place where we don’t serve tater tot hot dish or lutefisk or whatever other gross thing people eat here, so your average Gopher fan wouldn’t find himself there. Mitch Leidner just got signed by the Vikings, apparently, and I want nothing more than for him to somehow be better than Sam Bradford. PJ Fleck is an over-caffeinated dipshit. Can I say that here, Mike? This is why I have an editor. (Editor’s note: Fine by me.)
This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. Buffalo, maybe the Bills? Hopefully there are Bills fans in town because they drink a lot and I’m behind the bar tonight.
S&P+ rank: 35th overall, 73rd offense, 19th defense
Biggest strength: This morning, I made my predictions for Wisconsin’s season amongst my friend group and I couldn’t decide which stupid game the Badgers are going to lose that will result with my cellphone embedded in a wall. So I picked the Nebraska game. Way to go, Huskers. I’m already mad at you. Tommy Armstrong is no longer here! That is a... good thing?
Biggest weakness: Is Bo Pelini’s cat still on staff? It should be, if not. That cat could fire a team up. I wish they dressed the cat up in full coach’s attire complete with a little headset. OMG the pictures would have been great! Does Mike Riley even have a cat? This team blows and I can’t believe Wisconsin is going to lose to them!
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Arkansas State
S&P+ rank: 38th overall, 64th offense, 26th defense
Biggest strength: Everyone seems to think the Cats (/cat roar) are Wisconsin’s top challenger for the division title this year. Chicago’s 13th-most popular college football team might finally break into the top 10 of the city that they don’t even play in. Justin Jackson is like a Darnell Autry but for this decade. I’m pretty sure that is a compliment.
Biggest weakness: I asked my daughter what she thought about Northwestern football this season and she squealed and then burped. 8-5 sounds about right to me too, little one. If their game against the Badgers was in Evanston this year there is literally no scenario in which Wisconsin wins. Since it is in Madison, it’s like...55-45 Wisconsin wins. Ugh, I hate Northwestern so much.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Nevada
S&P+ rank: 92nd overall, 89th offense, 90th defense
Biggest strength: Purdue is the only team in the division that has an offense ranked higher than their defense, albeit by one measly spot, and I think that might spell trouble for the Boilermakers. Remember when there were multiple Purdue transfer QBs starting for other teams last year? That was weird.
Biggest weakness: Do you think Scott Starks ever feels bad about killing the Purdue football program?
I hope not. The top comment from that video is from two years ago and says “Purdue has yet to recover from this game.” If I were Indiana /shudders I would make a drum one cubic centimeter bigger than Purdue’s World’s Largest Drum and bang it for the entire game when they played each other.
This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. No. 16 Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in Indianapolis
S&P+ rank: 11th overall, 44th offense, 4th defense
Biggest strength: Have hopefully gotten all of their big injuries out of the way already! Have a transfer from Alabama’s defense (Roll Tide, Pawl) that isn’t even starting! Have a quarterback from the greatest high school football conference (go Inter-Ac!) in all the land! Have another excellent defense! Have a bunch of freshman who could contribute to a fairly battle-tested team! Have been receiving some CFP hype!
Biggest weakness: Lost Jack Cichy and Zack Baun before the season even started. Got the worst LB Alabama ever recruited, apparently, since he can’t crack our two-deep. Our quarterback couldn’t even win the Inter-Ac. The excellent defense has another new defensive coordinator. Freshmen might be bad once they play actual college competition. CFP hype? THAT’S SCARY!
I am overall extremely excited to see what this Wisconsin team can do and I do not see too many losses on a weak schedule. If Alex Hornibrook has progressed from last year and the defense doesn’t suffer any more major injuries, this is a team that should be in the top 10 all year. If they can parlay on-the-field success into recruiting success, we could be looking at a sustained run of excellence the likes of which Wisconsin has never seen. Oh, and uh, make sure you don’t lose to Minnesota either. People around here don’t like that.
This week’s schedule: Friday vs. Utah State. Fight me, Jim Delany, if you ever try and put Wisconsin on a Friday night again. Even though I randomly have off this Friday night and can actually watch the whole game and have a few beers too. BUT FIGHT ME FOR REAL, DELANY!