Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bielema Goes Home AND WINS

I, like I'm sure many of you, are sick to death of hearing about that damn Hawkeye tattoo and Bielema's calf. Though that tattoo will surely physically remain on Bielema's leg forever, in the hearts and minds of many Badgers fans it was erased yesterday, along with Bielema's ineptitude in getting Bucky over the hump on the road against a ranked team.

Going into yesterday's game Bielema was 7-10 in Big Ten road games and 0-5 against ranked teams on the road. With one scamper of Brad Nortman's scrawny legs and one beauty of a finishing drive all was erased, and a lot a hope was restored in Buckyville after a killer of a two game stretch that followed a less than enthusiastic effort in East Lansing.

In last week's column I asked, "Is this the one?" Was Bielema finally ready to step out from Barry Alvarez' shadow and lead this team to victories against upper echelon teams in the Big Ten and stop playing down to the level of competition (see San Jose St. and Arizona St. for starters)? Undoubtedly no one in Madison wants that more than Alvarez himself. Ever since Bielema's first year when he went 12-1 with Alvarez' recruits, the clamoring from Badgers fans has been getting louder and more consistent as people were becoming convinced that this smug kid who played for Iowa was simply too young and inexperienced to man the opposite sideline from Tressel, Paterno, and Ferentz. Well folks, don't look now but Bielema has taken down two of those three on consecutive weeks with Paterno, who let's face it, is a shell of his former self, as is his team, not on the schedule this year. This team has an excellent chance to run the table, though let's not even start thinking about the debacle that happened at Michigan the last time Bucky was there. The bye week comes at an excellent time for this team as it tries to heal the wounds from two physically and mentally draining weeks of beautiful Big Ten football. Should this team finish 11-1 in the regular season a BCS bowl should be waiting for them as a reward, most likely the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans against Auburn.

For my money the Player of the Game yesterday was Montee Ball. This kid has James White absolutely blow by him at the beginning of the season and he gets pushed to third string tailback on this team. Now third string is never a good place to be once you get into the conference season and the Austin Peays of the world are no longer lined up across from you on Saturday afternoons. But this kid made EVERY play and took advantage of EVERY opportunity that came his way yesterday. He only had 8 touches but everyone of them was huge for this team and that run and final extension over the goal line while keeping his knees off the ground for the winning score was why most of us watch and love college football. Third string at 2:30 and Player of the Game at 6:00, this kids has a ton of heart. Good for him.

Game Balls:
1. Offensive line. Only 142 yards of rushing but that was against the #1 rush defense in the Big Ten and Tolzien was only sacked once and generally had plenty of time to pass.
2. Tolzien. 20-26 for 205 is very workmanlike and exactly was is needed in this offense, though for God's sake take the short guy in the flat and do not try to force the ball downfield for a pick in the 4th qtr when you are down 3. To his credit he kept his head up and led them down the field to the win. This game ball is for that as much as it is for the entire body of work yesterday.
3. Brad Nortman. Oh my, that was the UGLIEST slide/dive I think I have ever seen on the football field but he kept his cool, waited for the Hawks players to turn their backs, and didn't take off to early. Great call and great execution.

As a sidenote:
WHY, WHY, WHY is Brian Gorman umpiring playoff baseball? This guy should not be umpiring the Venezulean Winter League in Caracas. As bad as the umpiring is AGAIN this postseason, this guy seems to go out of his way to make the incorrect call. I'm just saying...


Tony Brown said...

I have to say this is the most intense sporting event I've seen since USA/Algeria. Edge of me seat, living and dying with every play. My blood pressure must have been 160/100. Amazing game! Fake punt, 4th and 4, shovel pass!
Better than the Packer game for me.
Anyone in Milwaukee should go to Replay (new sports bar on Farwell and North) for Badger games. It is Madison 2.0 Damn, this comment is getting so long I might have to write a post.

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