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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 3 (Sept. 15)

Do you remember the last time Notre Dame took a trip to East Lansing? You might not remember the game’s first 60 minutes and change, but that’s fine: things didn’t get wild until overtime, when Michigan State answered a Notre Dame field goal with the most audacious coaching decision of the 2010 season. Now you remember, right? Dan Conroy is lined up for the potentially game-tying 46-yard field goal; Aaron Bates, the punter and team captain, was the holder; tight end Charlie Gantt was lined up one spot inside from the edge to Conroy’s right. The call: “Little Giants.” The snap went to Bates, as expected – and then came the unexpected. You’ll see the rest of the play later tonight, when the Irish and Spartans meet in one of the day’s marquee games. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    Bielema Makes a Quick Staffing Change

    Bret Bielema hired six new assistant coaches this winter. One didn’t make it to October. Bielema fired first-year offensive line coach Mike Markuson on Sunday, one day after the Badgers’ running game sputtered in a 10-7 loss at Oregon State. Said Bielema: “I did due diligence bringing him in. But it was at a point on Sunday that I had contacted people early in the morning, made sure that a transition could happen. And I sat down with [Markuson] Sunday afternoon, had a conversation with him and really wished it wasn’t going to end the way it did.”

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      P.S.R. 1-124: Week 3 Re-Ranking

      With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, particularly with only two weeks in the books, so you may see one team ranked below a team it just beat — see Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas, for example. Don’t be alarmed. Everything will become clearer by the end of the month.

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        Wisconsin, Nebraska Leave the Picture

        Well, when your marquee win comes against Vanderbilt, as highly as we all think of the Commodores, you haven’t had a good day. It was a terrible day for the Big Ten, actually – one of the conference’s worst non-conference weekends in recent memory, trumping last weekend, which was defined by only one bad loss, not multiple losses. It was one weak game after another, beginning at noon, gaining steam around midday and then culminating, at nearly midnight, by an unforgivably bad performance from a program once defined by the pride it took in getting stops on the defensive side of the ball. From this entire group, a clutch of sour showings tinged with feel-good victories, two losses stand out above the rest.

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          Overall, Not a Banner Weekend for F.B.S.

          Over the course of last year’s opening weekend, F.B.S. teams went a combined 36-2 against F.C.S. opponents. The two losses: Oregon State to Sacramento State (29-28) and Duke to Richmond (23-21). There were other close calls, including Washington’s flirtation with disaster against Eastern Washington, Iowa State’s near-loss experience to Northern Iowa and UTEP’s overtime victory against Stony Brook.

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            No. 11: Wisconsin

            At Tennessee, replacing seven assistant coaches isn’t so much cause for alarm as it is a sign of the times: Tennessee has suffered back-to-back seven-loss seasons, so it’s not surprising to see that Derek Dooley and the Volunteers are nearly starting from scratch — because assistant coaches value many things, but no one thing more than job security. But at Wisconsin, with the Badgers fresh off back-to-back trips to Pasadena, the changing cast of assistant coaches is met with some degree of surprise, if not outright skepticism: Wisconsin has been so good over the last three years, was so dominant over the last two years, that you’d almost expect every one of Bret Bielema’s assistants to remain in the fold until a head coaching opportunity opened up, as was the case with former coordinator Paul Chryst at Pittsburgh. While Tennessee and Wisconsin share this overhaul, the similarities end there: U.T. wants to regain some of its lost luster in the SEC; Wisconsin wants more of the same — more wins, more intimidation, more points, another Big Ten title and another shot at the Rose Bowl.

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              Two Palatable, Two Troubling Proposals

              The B.C.S. has streamlined its list of future postseason proposals in advance of this month’s meeting in Florida, according to an outline obtained by USA Today. In the two-page document, the B.C.S. writes that “while no options have been officially ‘taken off the table,’” the group has zeroed in on four proposals. Two are palatable; two are troubling for those hoping that a new postseason plan, which would become official in 2014, might stand as a drastic improvement over the current, maligned B.C.S. system. The four proposals, as detailed in the outline:

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                Ranking the Big Ten’s Class of Quarterbacks

                Another Wisconsin-themed hypothetical question: Where would you have ranked the Badgers’ quarterbacks against the rest of the Big Ten if Danny O’Brien had instead opted for, say, Penn State? If Wisconsin had gone into 2012 with options like Joe Brennan and Jon Budmayr, it would have joined Michigan State as the only two teams in the conference to not return a quarterback with at least one career start under his belt. So consider the toppling dominoes: O’Brien should start, which should push Brennan into a more fitting role as his backup, which will allow Budmayr to heal and former walk-on Joel Stave to develop.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.