October 10, 2010

Badgers win 41-23, Big 10 Power Poll

What we learned from the Badger victory:

  1. Once again, James White is pretty freaking good. He and Clay both hit the century mark and scored 5 touchdowns between them
  2. Lance Kendricks is also pretty good. He led the team in receiving yards and threw some great blocks on some of the longer runs by Clay and White.
  3. The Badgers need to use the play action more often. They were getting killed in the second quarter (IIRC only ~20 yards before Gilreath's garbage time 30+ yd catch). Minnesota was stuffing the box and Wisconsin responded by...running the ball some more. Once they opened up the passing game with more play action in the second half the offense really got rolling.
  4. Minnesota just isn't a great team. As I speculated in the preview, it's clear that Weber is a good QB trapped on a bad team. I'd trade him for Tolzien in a heartbeat. There were just too many dumb mistakes all around by the Gophers.

New Big Ten power poll
1. a Ohio State University (6-0, 2-0)
With Bama's loss last night to South Carolina the top spot should belong to aOSU...who so happen to be headed to Camp Randall next week. Rumor has it that ESPN is considering sending Gameday there. It's either that or the suddenly less lustrous Nebraska-Texas matchup. I'm hoping for a repeat of October 11, 2003 where Wisconsin beat OSU (who had the longest winning streak in the nation) 17-10 in a drizzly, energy-filled night game. It's the best football game I've ever attended and it would be tough to top. Hopefully the Wisconsin fans can bring out the same sort of energy for this game, and St. Jean and the Wisconsin linebackers can keep Terrelle Pryor between the tackles.

2a. Iowa (4-1, 1-0)
2b. Michigan State (6-0, 2-0)
Michigan State continues to look impressive, demolishing Denard Robinson in the Big House. As I said last week, they're pretty much what I was expecting Wisconsin to be. I don't think they go undefeated in Big Ten play (their defense still concerns me a bit) but the chance that MSU and aOSU both go undefeated is definitely in play. However, much like a typical Wisconsin team that's 2-0 at this point and riding high I expect them to lose one or two games for simple underpreparedness to a team like NW or Illinois. The last big game they have on their schedule is Iowa at home.

4. Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1)
They're still good enough to go 7-1 in the Big 10 (though it's unlikely with OSU and @Iowa still on the schedule). Clay hasn't been quite as good as his preseason hype but White has more than picked up the slack. The big problem is the defense. Even with Borland out on paper it should be pretty good. Watt and Nzegwu are great pass rushers off the end, and St. Jean and Mike Taylor are both above average linebackers. Valai leads the defensive backfield that doesn't have any outright holes. But the defense just keeps getting burned too often, especially on third downs.

5. Illinois (3-2, 1-1)
Maybe it's a bit of an overreaction to their win yesterday at PSU, and they do still have Ron Zook on the sidelines, but they've looked pretty good for the past 2 weeks. They almost upset aOSU, and then delivered an absolute beatdown to Penn State in their own backyard. They beat them by 20 points and it could have been even more if it weren't for three fumbles on special teams. They've probably peaked as far as the B10 season goes but they're not the pushover we assumed them to be.

6. Denard Robinson (5-1, 1-1)
Still all Robinson, nothing else. Still a work in progress.

7. Penn State (3-3, 0-2)
They just look terrible. They only managed three first downs in the first half, and were given 2 easy touchdown opportunities on PR fumbles by Illinois where they had to settle for field goals. Much as Iowa did, Illinois shut down Royster and made Bolden and the defense beat them, and they just couldn't do it. PSU's defense has had its share of injury problems, and when that's the strength of your team, you're due for a big fall

8. Northwestern (5-1, 1-1)
9. Indiana (3-2, 0-2)
10. Purdue (3-2, 1-0)
1100. Minnesota (1-5, 0-2)