Badgers off-beat preview: A cold-blooded schedule analysis
If you are looking for hard-hitting analysis, yeah, this ain’t it. But if you want a fun, entertaining read, you’ve found the right place. For more of Brandon Rifkin, please head to his blog or follow him on Twitter.
As I sit here drinking a Staghorn while watching "National Treasure," I want you all to do something: come to terms with it now. Make your peace. Accept the reality that we are on the cusp of living: Wisconsin football is going to lose some games this year. As in, multiple games. MANY GAMES OF DEFEAT. This isn’t even a knock on Chryst, his staff, or the team itself. This is simply a perfect storm of replacing a legend at the most important position on the field, coping with the loss of the best defensive coordinator in the land, and getting slapped with the hardest schedule I can possibly recall.
And I can assure you that I am not complaining. We’ve skated by on the softest B1G schedules you could construct for a few years now. Sure, we spiced it up with the LSU and Bama games. But let’s not ignore all the feasting we’ve done on the Illinois/Purdue/Indiana/Maryland/Rutgers conglomeration of SUCK. It’s kinda been our SOP the last five or so years: absolutely dominate all the sucky/decent teams in the conference, struggle mightily with the top shelf talent. I’m not even sure that’s very surprising (I’d assume most teams do well against Rutgers and struggle with OSU). But now the tables are turning and the day is about to be darkest before the dawn.
So let’s all enjoy this season as 12 weeks in the fall to drink before noon without consequence. Savor the victories, let the defeats drown directly into your beer, and remember that the hoops team is going undefeated and winning a national championship.
Before we look to da future, we must pay respects to those that have left us. Rest in peace, celebrities ranging from obscure to legendary.
• David Bowie, bizarre genius, musician. Bowie, quintessential dude that I never really listened to but knew he was somehow amazing at what he did. And then he died and Trey Songz covered ‘Life On Mars?‘ on "Vinyl" (RIP) and it was an entire awakening for me. But yeah also that Trey Songz cover was one of the best things I heard all year.
• Alan Rickman, AKA Bill Clay. Hans Gruber, the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, creature with no dong from "Dogma," the stuffy one in "Galaxy Quest," Snape… that is one hell of a resume. Even acknowledging that "Harry Potter" kind of sucks, that’s still a whole lot of work that will keep him remembered for years to come.
• Dan Haggerty, Grizzly Adams.
• Dave Mirra, video game superstar. I get that Mirra was actually famous for his BMX prowess, but his Dreamcast game was one of my defining childhood video games (nerd alert). I don’t even wanna know how many hours I spent playing that game into the wee hours of the night, Mountain Dew at my side, Sublime bumping on every map.
• Doris Roberts, the old lady from "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Grandma’s Boy". Last year we mourned the old lady from the Wedding Singer, and this year it’s the old woman from "Grandma’s Boy"? Between those two, the grandma from "Happy Gilmore," and the tour guide from "Billy Madison," you do NOT want to be the old woman in an Adam Sandler flick.
• Chyna. Yeah I remember uppercutting my little brother in the junk when we wrestled. Chyna was badass.
• Prince. Very similar to Bowie in that I always recognized he was immensely talented and famous, but was never really into his stuff. I’m still not, but we can always rest assured knowing that this was almost entirely true and accurate.
• Muhammad Ali. This picture is still about as good as any sports photograph will ever be:
• Miss Cleo, world renowned fortune teller. After a lifetime of lying to people (she was actually not Jamaican), racking up debt (and claiming she couldn’t pay because she had bone cancer), and using 14 different aliases (Corvette Mama being my favorite), Miss Cleo came out as a lesbian and died of actual cancer.
• Kenny Baker, R2-D2. I was confused by this because I didn’t realize you even needed an actor to "play" R2-D2. But apparently Baker was in "costume" whenever you saw R2 doing his little waddle. That makes sense I guess. And I do like that the guy who played Yoda filled in when Baker wasn’t available. That’s oddly cute.
• Lou Pearlman, creator of the Backstreet Boys AND NSYNC. And oh yeah a legendary scam artist and Ponzi schemer that robbed people out of $300 million and was successfully sued by every single musician he ever created. You should actually just go read his wiki page – this guy was beyond fascinating. And pretty creepy.
NEW FACES TO WATCH
Alex Hornibrook, QB, redshirt freshman. A LEFTY gunslinger without a ton of recruiting pedigree that has been slowly chipping away at the upperclassman in the fall camp QB battle? SIGN ME UP WHERE’S THAT BANDWAGON CHOO CHOO. Yup, I’m officially going #AllInOnHornibrook this year. And that means you’ll see nothing but the #HornDawg under center for the next four years. LOVE IT.
Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor, WR, freshmen. Hey hotshot WR recruits: wanna play your freshman year? Come to Wisconsin, where if you’ve got talent you’re gonna get on the field. There is NOTHING ahead of these guys keeping them off the field. All the reports from camp this year indicate they’re taking advantage of the opportunities. I’m kinda over the whole Wheelwright/Love/Peavy/Rushing group. Gimme the kids and let’s see if they got some game.
THIS SEASON IN HAIKU
Not gon’ be easy
Gonna have to earn them all
COLD-BLOODED SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
Home games in CAPS.
Opponent: No. 5 LSU (in Green Bay)
This is the game most likely to… have the most obnoxiously fun, drunk, and gluttonous tailgate the North has ever seen.
We will win if… Fournette’s ankle doesn’t heal and Clement finishes what MGIII started and UW fans buy up the remaining tickets and turn this into a home game and like 8 other little things go our way.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: Aranda will feel bad for a split second before realizing how much more money he now makes AND he has the SEC horses to ride. Life ain’t fair.
This is the game most likely to… make the outdoor patio at Will’s the most glorious place in the world as we coast to a victory on a sunny afternoon day in early September.
We will win if… the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: Hornibrook rebounds from a tough LSU opener and tosses a few touchdowns with that lefty saucer tosser.
Opponent: GEORGIA STATE
This is the game most likely to… have us looking back fondly upon better times, before we entered the B1G meat grinder.
We will win if… screw it if we lose this one then we can officially start counting down the days until hoops.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: Four different UW running backs rush for touchdowns. Jamo flows. Life is good.
Opponent: at No. 12 Michigan State
This is the game most likely to… set the tone for Murderer’s Row
We will win if… forget winning the game, let’s call this day a victory if we can make it to halftime without a replay or mention of the stupid Hail Mary years ago.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: Russell Wilson, Montee Ball and Jared Abbrederis couldn’t win in East Lansing. I’m not sure Hornibrook, Clement and Wheelwright will have better luck.
Opponent: at No. 7 Michigan
This is the game most likely to… confirm our utter hatred of the entire state of Michigan.
We will win if… Michigan somehow turns out to be WILDLY overrated and we return the opening kickoff for a touchdown and then hold on to the ball for 51 minutes.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: That STUPID FREAKING FIGHT SONG will be blaring all over the stadium nonstop and it won’t be because we’re doing good things.
Opponent: No. 6 OHIO STATE
This is the game most likely to… NIGHT GAME NIGHT GAME
We will win if… NIGHT GAME NIGHT GAME NIGHT GAME NIGHT GAME
What’s for sure actually going to happen: NIGHT GAME AT CAMP RANDALL HIDE YO KIDS
Opponent: at No. 17 Iowa
This is the game most likely to… feel like the light at the end of the tunnel.
We will win if… we channel a little previous magic and remind them of their pecking order in the B1G.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: You know what, I’m kinda talking myself into this upset. Why not.
This is the game most likely to… result in an obnoxious Wisconsin blowout because we seem to have Nebraska’s number and look out it’s another NIGHT GAME in Madison.
We will win if… the offensive line has figured it out by now and Clement is healthy and running like he wants to get drafted.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: Rain points on them like fire from the sky.
Opponent: at Northwestern
This is the game most likely to… seem like it should finally be a breather on the schedule because nerds but still probably end in heartbreak because in Evanston.
We will win if… a natural disaster relocates the game to anywhere but Evanston.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: We will lose because Evanston.
This is the game most likely to… THANK YOU ILLINOIS FOR BEING YOU AND STILL EXISTING YOU MAGNIFICENT BAD-AT-FOOTBALL BASTARDS
We will win if… we want to have any chance at going bowling.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: W.
Opponent: at Purdue
This is the game most likely to… oh hell yes my birthday is on a Saturday this year? Can’t wait to not make it to midnight!
We will win if… Purdue continues to be chasing a real quarterback, which I’m pretty sure they are. NO CURTIS PAINTER TO SAVE THE DAY FOR YOU.
What’s for sure actually going to happen: #BoilerDown
This is the game most likely to… make me take screenshots of Minnesota players saying how THEY GON’ TAKE THAT AXE in the week leading up to the game.
We will win if… we remember who we are and who they are.
What’s for sure actually going to happen:
A massive Indonesian FEAST from Kantjil & De Tijger in Amsterdam. Amsterdam was the first leg of a multi-city Eurotrip I did in April and this meal was one of the absolute highlights. I have literally no idea what anything is, I just know that it was all incredible and there was more than enough food to satisfy four hungry, drunk dudes. If Amsterdam having great Indonesian food is somehow the result of the Dutch East India Company, then the Boston Tea Party was totally worth it.
Expectations have been properly calibrated. This team wins 10 games with last year’s schedule, but we don’t have last year’s schedule. Instead, we’re breaking in a new QB with a new defensive coordinator in a year where 5 of our first 7 games are against teams ranked in the top 17. It sucks, but beating up on Rutgers and Maryland for 10 cheap wins isn’t that special either. Plus, if we beat any of those ranked teams, it’ll have a two-pronged effect of simultaneously locking up a bowl bid for us and ruining some magical season for them.
It’s alright to play spoiler every once in a while. Our turn to watch the world burn.
7-5 and we beat a "better" team on paper in a bowl game. Pack it up and get better for next year.