Saturday, October 1, 2011

Welcom to the House of Pain

Before the college football season began I picked the Wisconsin Badgers to win the National Championship. With the addition of Russell Wilson at quarterback, a transfer from North Coralina State, the Badgers finally have a complete quarterback to go along with their trademarked power run game and solid defense. Wilson, who was a minor league baseball player and led a mediocre North Caroliona State team to second in the ACC last season, is a pure passer with a good running instinct complemented by his speed. Contrary to most stellar mobile quarterbacks, he sticks in the pocket and only scrambles on designed runs or if he needs to extend the play. This is rare in young quarterbacks who have big play ability with their legs, which shows his maturity and knowledge of his offense. So not only is he an exceptional athlete, he has a high football IQ--a deadly combination to any opponent. He currently ranks second in FBS in pass efficiency with 218.4, and has amounted 1,134 passing yards, 11 touchdowns to one interception, with a 75.8% completion percentage. Heisman voters may have an early favorite.

Wisconsin lost to an undefeated TCU team last year in the Rosebowl and are defending Big 10 co-champions. They are currently ranked 6th in total offense and 7th in total defense, beating their opponents by an average of 40 points, averaging 48.5 points per game which ranks them 6th in points per game. Over the past six years, Wisconsin has been nearly unbeatable at home, going 32-4. With a sea of red adrenaline filled fans jumping up and down to their unofficial school song, "Jump Around by House of Pain," an imposing scene is set to any visiting team at defeaning volumes. The jumping and singing fans literally make Camp Randall Stadium shake, which at one time caused the University to ban the playing of the song until sensory data and computer modeling determined it did not threaten the integrity of the stadium. How's that for home field advantage?

Wisconsin's first big test this season will be tonight at home against the #8 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. This has all the markings of a new high profile rivalry in the Big 10.Nebraska left the Big 12 Conference last year with their infamous "Black Shirts" in efforts to return to their previous rank of heralded football juggernaut. Led by Coach Bo Pelini, Nebraska has returned to producing elite NFL football players and the ranks of the top 10. Tonight they look to build on their aspirations of their first Big 10 Conference championship and a shot at another National Championship, a feat they haven't accomplished in 14 years--an eternity in the land of Big Red.

Like Mr. T predicted in Rocky III, there will be, "Pain!" Wilson will control the game with his arm and legs, reinforced by a sensational home crowd, and his stand up defense. Nebraska's young quarterback Taylor Martinez is also an exceptional talent, but is primarily a scrambling quarterback. The imposing crowd will be very intimidating to the young play caller, combine that with his high tendency to fumble the football, and I see many turnovers and a complete lack of ability to move the football down the field. Although Nebraska does have a tenascious defense full of hard hitters, Wisconsin will win big at home on their way to become Big 10 Champs and their first National Championship. Jump around about that.

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