(Much like the last blog from Metrodome, I’ll be posting in reverse chronological order; in other words, the most recent observations will be at the top, with the older ones toward the bottom).
With 8:00 left, I am packing up the laptop and heading downstairs for a brief ceremony after the game to honor the Big Ten Conference tri-champion Wisconsin Badgers. Look for our postgame report on the late newscast.
THANK YOU SENIORS
Jon Budmayr is on to replace Scott Tolzien, who gets a nice ovation from the fans. It’s pretty amazing to think how far Tolzien’s come in the past two seasons, from being down on the depth chart prior to the 2009 season, to being the established leader of the offense. Once again, Tolzien turns in some incredibly efficient numbers: 15-19 passing, for 230 yards, and 4 TD’s…and another 0 in the INT column. The guy is a winner, plain and simple.
IF THE PRESS BOX IS A ROCKIN’, DON’T COME A KNOCKIN’
We are literally shaking up here during “Jump Around.” It’s roller coaster-like, for sure, and fun, as long as the TV monitors up here don’t come crashing down.
Aaron Henry’s interception return for a touchdown gives the Badgers 70 points through three quarters. Back in the day, Wisconsin wouldn’t score 70 points in three games.
GETTING THE MOST OF OF SENIOR DAY
Fans were chanting “J.J. Watt,” and for good reason, after the senior blocked a NU extra point. Seriously, what more can this guy do?
IT AIN’T OVER BUT IT IS
James White’s TD run makes it 63-17, and the only thing in question now is the final score. Can Wisconsin put up more points than it did vs. Austin Peay (70) and Indiana (83)? I’ll say yes to the former, but no to the latter. It all depends when Bret Bielema starts pulling the starters.
John Clay enters the game and loses 2 yards. As if on cue, Montee Ball goes back in and rips off a TD run of 44 yards, in which he shows exceptional patience, vision, cutback ability, and speed. The depth at running back on this team is simply amazing.
NOT YOUR FATHER’S BADGERS
Three yards and a cloud of dust? Not any more…Tolzien to Toon again, the Badgers lead 49-17, and there are still 14 seconds to go in the 1st half. Wisconsin put up 70 against Austin Peay and 83 versus Indiana. Who knows what they’re capable of in this one, especially if NU keeps committing turnovers. Given that style points do matter in the BCS universe, I don’t expect the Badgers to take the foot off the gas pedal, at least in the 3rd quarter. Consider the statement made to pollsters…loud and clear. It’s not a flawless Wisconsin team, but it’s a pretty darn good one, and one very deserving of its high ranking in the polls.
PLENTY TO WORK ON IN THE NEXT MONTH
Including: kick coverage. I don’t think the NU kick return will spark a Wildcats comeback, but it’s something for Wisconsin’s special teams coaches to work on while the Badgers prepare for their bowl game.
With the Tolzien to Toon TD pass, Wisconsin has already eclipsed its per-game scoring average (40.2 points/game). Tolzien is 11-14, for 166 yards and 3 TD’s.
J.J Watt is dominating this game defensively. Another strip, this time of Watkins, leads to a fumble recovery by Aaron Henry. Badgers are now +5 in turnover ratio, and threatening to score once again.
LOUD THEN QUIET
Scott Tolzien’s beautifully thrown ball to Lance Kendricks for a Wisconsin touchdown brought the Badgers fans to their feet, in full-throated roar…but it’s quiet in here now, as Kendricks remains down on the field. At first glance, it looks like he may have gotten the wind knocked out of him. Kendricks is being escorted from the field now.
Northwestern responds to the turnover and UW TD with a 11-play, 63-yard drive, in 3:03, to make the score 28-10. Evan Watkins is no Dan Persa (or Kain Colter, for that matter), but he was able to keep the Wildcats drive alive (and the UW defense honest) with a couple of runs, including a gutty effort to get into the end zone.
THREE PLAYS LATER
Wisconsin is in the end zone, after a Scott Tolzien TD pass of 18 yards to David Gilreath. The Badgers are ruthlessly efficient in this one. It’s early, but you wonder whether the Wildcats will be able to make this one even remotely close. It’s not due to lack of effort; a Pat Fitzgerald-coached team will not roll over, but the Cats are just not executing, and the Badgers are taking advantage.
WATT’S UP, KAIN COLTER?
NU’s backup QB was doing some good things running the ball (compared to starter Evan Watkins), but Colter got introduced to J.J. Watt when the Wildcats started throwing the ball. The resulting pressure led to a wobbly pass that was picked off by Badgers linebacker Mike Taylor. Wisconsin, once again, has great field position after the turnover.
Montee Ball’s TD is his 3rd of the day. He now has 74 yards rushing. Not bad for a guy who was 3rd on the UW RB depth chart not too long ago.
ONE QUARTER IN THE BOOKS
The stats are tilting Wisconsin’s way. Total yards UW 146, NU 106. Rushing UW 80, NU 34. 1st downs NU 6, UW 7. Again, the key category is turnovers, NU 3, UW 0.
BUT THERE GOES THE SHUTOUT
Northwestern is on the board with a long field goal by Stefan Demos. The Wildcats taking advantage of some good field position, brought about by their defense, which forced Wisconsin to go 3-and-out following the last turnover. Really, the stats are fairly even in this game, but the 3 NU turnovers are clearly the difference so far.
ONE MORE FROM THE D
Cornerback Antonio Fenelus with outstanding form on that interception, locating the ball, shielding the receiver, and making the pick on the NU 5-yard line. Wisconsin is +3 in turnover margin, and there are still more than 5 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter…amazing.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
After the game, if the Badgers are running around on the field hoisting the Big Ten trophy, Wisconsin’s defense ought to get a ton of credit. This time, it’s J.J. Watt forcing a fumble and Tyler Dippel recovering. From there, a few Montee Ball runs, and the Badgers own a 14-0 lead. It’s early, very early, but the mood in this place is more toward the coronation side of things (as opposed to the coronary side of things).
THAT WAS INTERESTING
The average grumbling quotient in the Camp Randall press box is generally always lower than it is at Lambeau Field, but a few of my media bretheren were questioning the 3rd & 1 play call. Instead of pounding the ball up the middle or off tackle, the Badgers ran a reverse to Lance Kendricks and promptly lost 6 yards. In the interests of being balanced, good special teams coverage on the Brad Nortman punt pins Northwestern back on its own 4 yard line.
I GOT YOUR STATEMENT RIGHT HERE
As if on cue, the defense creates a turnover, good pressure on the QB by Ethan Hemer, Aaron Henry applying the hit, with Jay Valai getting the pick, giving Wisconsin posession on the Northwestern 40. So far, so good for the Badgers.
LIKE I SAID, NO HELP NEEDED
A great opening drive by the Badgers: 5 plays, 74 yards, in 2:24, the big plays being a 30-yard screen pass from Scott Tolzien to Lance Kendricks, followed immediately by a 32-yard run by Montee Ball. Clearly, Wisconsin looks ready to play…now it’s the defense’s turn to make a statement.
NO HELP NEEDED
With both Ohio State and Michigan State winning today, Wisconsin needs a win to clinch a share of the Big Ten title. My guess is that the team is just fine with that, they’d just as soon earn it on the field.
READY TO GO
I’ve got internet access, a spot in the press box, and some food. Life is good. There’s plenty of state-wide representation today in the press box, which you’d expect, given what’s on the line today.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on November 27, 2010