Ups: Russell Wilson, Downs: Wisconsin Fans, Ups: The Red River Rivalry, Downs: the SEC
Despite its blowout outcome, the Nebraska-Wisconsin game last week was a very fun sporting event to attend. Playing on the road, Nebraska grabbed two separate touchdown leads at the beginning of the game, and as Wisconsin came back each time, the already electric atmosphere got thatmuch more intense. Though I was rooting for Nebraska out of respect for my step dad, I have Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson on my college fantasy football (!) team, so his amazing numbers were pretty cool to see firsthand (more on that later). Seeing him taking snaps pre-game, I just had this *feeling* he was primed for big things that night. Maybe I had a bias because his numbers this year were already so great, but watching him actually play, the feeling felt beyond validated.
Though he was involved with numerous big plays and touchdowns, my favorite Wilson sequence occurred on a random scramble during the first half. He left the pocket, shot left, and darted upfield on the side closest to our seats. Some dude on Nebraska (I think a linebacker), had him completely squared up to make the play, but Russell just gave him this terrific juke, and the dude didn't stand a chance.
I literally lept out of my seat, involuntarily, and shouted -- likely for the first and last time in my life -- "That was SO COLD."
It was the kind of natural reaction I typically only have when watching an amazing basketball play or tennis shot. Pundits and Big Ten people have lauded the Russell Wilson addition to Wisconsin's offense as "the missing piece" because his supreme playmaking ability and all-all around awesomeness add a dimension to the Sconnie offense that just wasn't there before. While they've never lacked baseline QB play, they've never had anything like Wilson before. What I find more compelling and impressive, however, is that Russell did the completely unthinkable: he made Wisconsin football cool and telegenic. That just wasn't true before he got there, and when he leaves, it may not ever be true again. Because power football sucks.
So yeah, fun game. Before we continue, a few gripes with some idiot Wisconsin fans sitting behind me at the game. These are things they implied or actually said.
- Implied: Taylor Martinez is not a good fit for Big Ten football because he's from California. I was going to look up the long list of successful Big Ten players from California, but I know Tom Brady off the top of my head, and I believe I'll stop there.
- Said: "This isn't Ames, Iowa!" when the Nebraska offense was struggling on the field. Implying Nebraska came from some sort of conference that doesn't feature two definitively more prominent programs than Wisconsin (Texas, Oklahoma) and *three* if you include Nebraska itself.
- Implied: Taylor Martinez's scrambling ability will hinder the team in Big Ten play. Russell Wilson also has scrambling ability, and he is definitely slower than Martinez. But he is a hero.
- Said, somewhat spitefully: "We play real football!" when Wisconsin was doing their boring, power running game for a few plays before Russell Wilson decided to make the game cool again by passing dope routes and rocking sweet QB runs.
- After ragging on Nebraska as a program and team all game, implying they were in over their heads and over-ranked, and taking in the student section's chants of "overrated!" as the game started to come to an end, said, painfully spitefully: "What do you think of the out-of-conference schedule now, Brent?!" The implication there would be Wisconsin's bad out of conference schedule didn't matter, because they just pounded on a Nebraska team the fans spent all game saying wasn't good and that they didn't respect. There is no logic in this. Even better, even if Nebraska was good, Wisco's crappy out of conference schedule will still most likely hurt them if they end up being a finalist for the BCS championship game. And in the 2011 season, we may have a lot of finalists. Clay Travis spells that doom scenario out here, and if you hate the BCS or are just bitter in general -- I'm both! -- you'll root for that.
1) LSU: I don't want to talk about LSU, so let's talk about Michigan. They debuted this bad ass new formation that some people are calling the Diamond formation where QB2 Devin Gardner goes under center, and Denard (QB1) turns into an h-back while Michigan simultaneously plays two other RBs as well.
Passing or running can come from almost any angle. It was literally the coolest thing ever. It gained, like, 12 yards one time, and all other times, it was modest at best and arguably not that great. Still, it's very much great. And I'm mega-excited, and I hope it stays in the playbook and wasn't just a one time thing they used because they were bored and playing Minnesota.
2) Alabama: I refuse to believe a team without (at least) a semi-stellar QB can ride an elite, nasty defense to win the national title. That said, Alabama did this already within the last decade. So did LSU (with two losses!). So did Ohio State (with a cheap pass interference call!).
4) Wisconsin: Knocking on that damn door.
5) Boise State
6) Oklahoma State: We stay winnin'. Speaking of OSU, you know who I don't miss from this Top 25? tOSU.
7) Stanford: Despite less passing yards, passing touchdowns, completion percentage, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns, Andrew Luck still leads Russell Wilson in ESPN's Heisman Watch. I hate him.
8) Clemson: I'm super behind on the Internet, so yes, I just saw the Taj Boyd play. This is the Play of the Year until otherwise noted.
What doesn't that have?
9) Oregon: New Oregon throwbacks are cool.
10) Arkansas: I know I promised more girls this week, but can I really ignore a link I had bookmarked for this column with the label "ARKANSAS FAT MAN"? I still could? Well, no, I won't.
11) Texas: Took out the Clones with extreme prejudice.
12) Michigan: I know, I know. And they're No. 11 in the stupid coaches poll. I'm sorry, and not only that, they're sorry. Michigan DE Ryan Van Bergen:
"...We're not the No. 12 team in the country, in our minds."
And that's not all. Brady Hoke also offered up one of the better Michigan-related humbles of the semi-young season.
"I think we're a long way from being a Michigan football team," Hoke said Tuesday. When asked if he saw any signs on the field to believe his team could eventually become one of the nation's best this year, he answered simply: "No."
"Coach Hoke, do you think your players deserve to live?" .... "No."
13) Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech is unbeaten with a clean 5-0 record, but because I didn't get to make fun of it last week, here's the custom shirt they made over their arbitrary regular season victory against Kansas where they rushed for a ton of yards. If it even needs to be said, it's the lamest thing you'll see in next 39 seconds. Here's what it reads, if you're too lazy to click the link.
SEPTEMBER 17TH 2011
GEORGIA TECH vs KANSAS
12.1 YDS PER CARRY
+ 768 YDS TOTAL
+ 604 YDS RUSHING
= GT HISTORY
Any time a shirt like this exists, and it's not for, at minimum, a bowl game, it will be a mandatory post-and-make-fun-of from here on out.
14) Nebraska: The Wisco loss was bad, but I think they'll be able to beat any average/bad team they play this year. Holes against elite teams aren't necessarily holes against the rest of the crap heap.
15) Auburn: Haha, South Carolina pwn'd.
16) West Virginia: Bad fans, WFV? Say it ain't so!
17) Florida: Down goes Florida!
Whether you like or dislike Tebow as an NFL QB -- I, uh, dislike -- this billboard story really should unify everyone. I mean, seriously, even if you *think* he's going to be Denver's answer at quarterback (a perfectly acceptable belief), do you really want to get behind this billboard? I mean, the chances of it being made by insane zealots hovers around 239%. Just look at them!
I mean, is there anything in this picture that doesn't prove my point? Double exclamation points (check), all caps (check), welcoming Denver Broncos head coach John Fox to a place that doesn't exist (huge check), the worst formatting in the world (of course).
Also warrants mentioning: I went to OneSwoosh.com, and it's a legit candidate for Website of the Year, 1996.
Is this .GIF featured? Ohhhh yeah.
Haha. Let's triple up on that.
18) South Carolina: Oof.
19) Illinois: Our boys. Anybody have any good kneed jokes? I kneed to know if you have any.
20) Kansas State
21) Virginia Tech
22) Arizona State
23) Florida State
24) Texas A&M: Nice blown lead. Wow, did you deserve to lose.
25) Baylor: I was talking about Heisman candidates at band practice the other day, and our bassist and I were going back-and-forth on a few people. This went on for a while, and, at some point, he mentioned Robert Griffin III. Then, our guitarist who doesn't really follow football and hadn't said much of a word during the entire conversation, chimed in with, "I just think football needs more the thirds."
He picks his spots well.
Dropped from rankings: South Florida (it was time), TCU (and nobody ever saw them again)
California at Oregon (9): I mean, Oregon does have a loss already, but we do get to see a good spread offense annnnnd Thursday Night Lights!
Boise State (5) at Fresno State: If this crappy story doesn't get you revved up for this game, little will.
Oklahoma (3) vs Texas (11): YEEEEEEE-HAW! Grab ya guns! Grab ya holsters! Grab ya ammo! Grab ya women, because it's thee RED. RIVER. SHOOT OUT! WOOOO. People can rip this game all they want -- and fairly so, as OU probably won't get touched -- but hey, I think it's a game that should still be appreciated. Texas at least had the decency to come into this thing undefeated. They did their part to make it marquee.
Game of the Week.
Maryland at Georgia Tech (13): Meh. I mean.. maybe if I had that t-shirt.
Minnesota at Purdue: Is it possible for a game to have a negative number of fans show up? How would that work? Do you come to the game, rip your seat out from where it would have been, then take it to your house, sit in it, and watch a real game on TV? Because that's my best guess.
Illinois (19) at Indiana: Our boys take the freak show on the road for a probably boring game against Indiana. I-L-L...
Boston College at Clemson (8): Climpson! Aright, guys, I just checked, and Boston College sucks. But Clemson does have a reputation to lose stupid games, so I say this makes the cut.
Florida (17) at LSU (1): Hold it! Don't be tricked into thinking this is the Game of the Week. Florida's heart does not beat the pulse of an elite team. They are starting an untested QB, and it's on the road, and--I'm done making a case. This one's a "tune in early and see before it blows up" kind of game.
Kansas at Oklahoma State (6): Kansas is 2-2. Eh. This could be another t-shirt game waiting to happen.
Iowa at Penn State: Another week-old link, but it was too funny to exclude. Black Heart Gold Pants presents: "Free Vandy"
As far as the game goes... I may hate the Big Ten, Iowa, and really hate Penn State (for being boring), but I'm still excited for this game. Iowa can throw the ball around, man. I'm telling you. I'd love for them to have a crack at Wisconsin this year. I think they could play with them.
Vanderbilt at Alabama (2): Here's what I don't get, if the SEC is so great, why is this Alabama-LSU November game such a lock? Like... it's mandated that 'Bama and LSU are gonna be undefeated going in. While I agree with that "November means everything" sentiment, doesn't that say a lot about the state of the conference when no other team is expected to push Alabama or LSU in any conference game throughout the year? To me, that says they lack depth. And when you spend most of your time touting your ultra-superiority over the rest of the sport, you probably need something like depth to back your arguments and stupid chants up. Here would be my best guess at their argument: WHILE THUH ESS EE SEE TRULY E-IZ THUH GREATEST CONFRANCE IN THA SPORT UH COLLEGE FUHBALL, OWR TWO SUPER ELITE TEEMS HAHVE *SO MUCH* ESS EE SPEED AN' FORCE THAT THA REST UV THA BOYS JUST CAYUNT COMPEET WITH 'EEM. Translation: I hate you.
Michigan (12) at Northwestern: My bias tells me this is a great game, but my brain tells me I may be biased. Stupid Persa boned my fantasy football team last week (more on that later). The funniest part of the Persa thing is I was one of the first prominent national media members (Yes.) to tout him potentially being good (this is from October of last year):
Northwestern's QB...Is Good?: Listen, I hate mediocre Big Ten QBs as much -- if not way, way more -- than the next person, but I had a small window to watch that Persa dude take on Minnesota's defense, and I gotta say, he looked impressive. He made some accurate throws, had some speedy runs, and the stats actually back him up:
Throwing: 10 TDs, 2 INTs, and an insanely high completion percentage of 79.4%
Rushing: 271 yards, 4.0 YPC, and 2 TDs
While NU has played three non-BCS teams, wins over Minnesota and Vanderbilt should at least make those stats slightly -- slightly -- impressive, even if you're a skeptic.
...[H]e likes Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine, "Always Sunny", and Drew Bledsoe. He's so cool.
I can't believe I just wrote that much about Dan Persa.
You see, I've been in on the ground floor!
I believe this Michigan team should beat Northwestern. Only real x-factor is the whole 'Dan Persa being alive thing' and, I suppose, the 'first road game all year' thing. Though it's Evanston. How crazy can it be when a chunk of their (already high school) stadium is Michigan fans?
I'm sure this arrogance will not come back to haunt me.
Colorado at Stanford (7): The Cardinal checks in with their weekly boring game. Why can't they play sweet teams? Who wouldn't want to see Luck shoot out against the LSU defense? Wouldn't that be cool? Now the closest he'll come to that is if and when Stanford is snubbed from playing an SEC team in a bowl game. Also, I rag on Luck a lot as a joke -- even though I think I like and really respect him -- so it's probably time to give him some props for that sweet ass catch last week.
Ohio State at Nebraska (14): A Big Ten game kicking off 30 minutes later on the slate than a Stanford game? Go you, Big Ten!
The best part about this game is how drastically different the context of the game is compared to pre-season expectations. This was *supposed* to be the game where, if they weathered a manageable early season, Ohio State would get their suspended dudes from the Tat Five back into the lineup. But then Pryor left, tOSU lost two games prior (pun intended) to Nebraska, and the other dudes that were supposed to come back are suddenly primed to serve extended suspensions. About everything went wrong. And I guarantee Nebraska will win this game.
Every year, once my actual favorite teams (Michigan, Iowa, Washington State) have been eliminated from the national title picture (by, you know, losing just one game), my buddy Ryan and I create what we call the "College Football Bandwagon" which mostly consists of a list of all the undefeated BCS conference teams minus Notre Dame (and sometimes others). The goal of the CFB is to fake feel good about yourself when your "team" makes the national title game. Plus it provides invested, fake rooting interests.
Very tough loss for my college fantasy football (!) team 'Denard' last week, who fell to 3-2 for the season. Despite atomic numbers from team captain and player-coach Russell Wilson, I still lost by, like, two points. You know why? Because my opponent played stupid Northwestern QB Dan Persa (who I used to like, until NOW), and he put up a decent chunk of points before leaving the game against Illinois. The true stomach punches? 1) I had the Illinois defense, so all of the positives he earned for my opponent also created negatives for me, 2) I had the Northwestern tight end Drake Dunsmore, who, while on my bench (possibly on accident), caught a TD pass from Persa. Long story short: if I played him, I woulda won. Dan Persa is the Andrew Luck of a new generation.
This week: Russell is on bye week, I'm playing the league's only undefeated team (who I've already lost to this year), and I'm starting the Minnesota's QB2, who may or may not even play.
I have conceded this game already and look forward to getting back to the right side of .500.
Should we go with this great Wisconsin/Minnesota combo dig?
Or maybe this specific-to-just-Minnesota dig?
Nah. I'd rather rip on the horrible, horrible Penn State-Indiana game that I went on record last week saying I'd *pay* not to watch. Spoiler alert: I did not watch it. So, Twitter, how'd that game turn out?
Some things cannot be unseen. Or so I'd be told.
ESPN's latest This is SportsCenter commercial features University of Wisconsin-Madison's beloved mascot, Bucky Badger. In the spot, ESPN's Hannah Storm catches Bucky surfing Facebook while on the clock. The spot also features the Facebook profile of Bucky's mascot friend Wilma T. Wildcat from the University of Arizona. The commercial was created by Weiden+Kennedy New York.
Check it out here. Bucky is the best.
- Unrelated to anything -- well, uh, I mean... he played college football once -- I loved this random quote from Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, re: playing some fullback for the team on offense.
"I am a defensive football player, so I only understand defense," Suggs said. "What I do know is that [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] is working me in on offense, getting some fullback -- a little something to just try to get the ball in my hands. Like King James [the nickname for Miami Heat forward LeBron James], you get the ball in my hands, good things happen -- with the exception of the [NBA] Finals. It's cool. We're working on something."
Haha, he goes out of his way to give LeBron James props, then goes even more out of his way to dig him at the end. So illogical, it's great.
- Lastly, the SEC sucks.
Wrapping It Up...
I'm seeing the Desendents on Saturday but plan on watching stuff in between/DVRing things as well.
Sweet .GIF to take us out.
Bobby Loesch is the assistant editor of Tremendous Upside Potential and a weekly contributor to SBN Chicago. He can be reached at bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy.
Game of the Week?
Oklahoma-Texas (3 votes)
LSU-Florida (0 votes)
3 total votes