Badgers Off-Beat Season Preview: All aboard the hype train

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.

The hype is SEVERELY PALPABLE. Sports Illustrated cover, national writers picking UW to go undefeated, 54 All-Americans … you name it, we hype it. Offensive line? So good and experienced that Joe Thomas retired just to come back and take notes. Running back? The UW Athletic Department has already booked hotel and airfare to New York in early December. Quarterback? Ask Miami what happens when the Horn Dawg comes a callin’. Linebackers? All aboard the Van Ginkel Express.

Could I have put any WORSE juju on UW than tweeting about how awesome our wide receivers are a day before the top two get suspended?
I’ll save my comments on those legal issues because, well, not a one of us actually knows what happened and what didn’t happen. And this is a football/chicken tender blog, not a legal blog. There’s plenty of depth at WR that UW will be fine.

More Badgers coverage

MORE than find, I’d wager. And it all starts on a late summer Friday night in Madison. Can’t script a better way to start the biggest season in college football history than a night game at Camp Randall Labor Day weekend. This is peak life. I beg you to take advantage and enjoy it, because we’re just a few weeks away from STRESS LEVEL MAXIMUM as this team pursues perfection.

CELEBRITY DEATHS
Time to pay our respects to those we have lost:

  • Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul. I’ll always say few things are cooler than being a really good singer, and she was better than just about everyone else in the world. Bonus points because the Queen of Soul is a top-tier nickname.
  • Richard Harrison, the old guy on “Pawn Stars”. The old guy from “Pawn Stars” died? No one told me! Probably because every show on the History Channel sucks and is fake and therefore not historical. But, uh, rest in peace big guy!
  • Anthony Bourdain, food dude. A man who lived hard and fast, chewed with the best of them, and probably would be a top-10 person to have drinks and dinner with. I’m struggling to think of a single person who hated him.
  • Flaurie Berman, co-founder of Superdawg. The MATRIARCH OF SUPERDAWG. Superdawg has always been a favorite of mine (the hot dogs are obviously great, but the burgers are the under-the-radar winner), so after she passed away I made my pilgrimage to Devon and Milwaukee to pay my respects:
  • Kate Spade, purse tycoon. I won’t confess to knowing much about Kate Spade other than every girl in the world either has a purse or wants one, and she married David Spade’s brother. Also: suicide is the worst.
  • Jerry Maren, last surviving munchkin from the “Wizard of Oz”. 89 years old is one hell of a run for a munchkin. Not to mention, Jerry had a cameo in “Seinfeld”! That’s one hell of a life.
  • Hugh Dane, Hank from The Office. Me when I found out Hank died:

via GIPHY

  • Verne Troyer, Mini-Me. Apparently 2018 was a terrible year for famous little people.
  • Avicii, Swedish DJ. I’m on record for HATING all electronic/DJ music. I think it’s insane that billions of people pay money to go to “concerts” where nerds are pushing buttons on a Macbook. But “Wake Me Up” is an all-time banger, and it’s always a shame to see people die young.
  • Barbara Bush, matriarchal badass. Our second matriarch! Can you tell that I absolutely love the word/concept of a matriarch? Barbara Bush, Flaurie Berman, Olenna Tyrell … matriarchs everywhere. Don’t mess with a matriarch.
  • Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and cosmologist. I understand virtually nothing that Hawking was famous for, but he’s high up on the universal respect rankings. Didn’t let a debilitating disease stop him from pursuing his dreams and changing the world.

NEW FACES TO WATCH

  • Aron Cruickshank, WR, Freshman. He was already turning heads in camp as a true freshman receiver, but he might actually find his way on the field now given Q and Davis are suspended. All you need to know about him is he’s in the mix for returning kickoffs, and he got a flag in practice for doing a damn backflip after catching a touchdown. I DEMAND IN-SEASON BACKFLIPPING.
  • Scott Nelson, S, Freshman. Another freshman making plays left and right in camp, Nelson’s name has come up several times for his ability to pick off a Horn Dawg pass. Now, we can easily interpret this in multiple ways: yay we have a playmaking youngster in the secondary and there are holes to be filled there, or oh god Horn Dawg slinging picks to freshmen in practice. I choose the former!
  • Kayden Lyles, DL, Redshirt Freshman. Part of the glut of talent on the offensive line means a former offensive lineman in Lyles has moved to the other side of the ball and gotten reps in at both nose tackle and defensive end. At this point it looks like he’s in line to either start on the end or get some significant tick. That’s impressive for a freshman playing a new position.

RANDOM MUSIC WE’RE DIGGING HARD THIS WEEK

Don’t look now but the Struts are back with a killer new single and an upcoming album. Their debut album as about as good as music gets, and we are approaching make or break status on their sophomore effort. My hopes are high. Check them out and shred.

THIS SEASON IN HAIKU

Tougher schedule
Little margin for error
The sky’s the limit


COLD-BLOODED SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
(Home games in CAPS)

Opponent: WESTERN KENTUCKY

Date: 8/31

This is the game most likely to … have pre-game Camp Randall #skyporn

We will win if … we can put Fortnite down for a few hours and show up in the stadium reasonably on time.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: The JT23 Heisman campaign gets an official hashtag after he drops 214 yards and 4 touchdowns.

 

Opponent: NEW MEXICO

Date: 9/8

This is the game most likely to … struggle to fill the bars for the 11 a.m. kickoff.

We will win if … well we’re on the second cupcake of the schedule and I’m already struggling to come up with clever ways we could actually lose one of these inevitable slobberknockers. Slobberknockers really should be an actual word by now.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: Taylor approaches 450 rushing yards after two weeks, the defense scores its first touchdown, and the Lobos head back to Nuevo Mexico with a story to tell their nietos.

Badgers all-time databases

Opponent: BYU

Date: 9/15

This is the game most likely to … give us false confidence in saying “see, our non-conference schedule wasn’t really THAT bad …”

We will win if … this isn’t one of those sneaky good BYU teams, and they catch a bunch of breaks on their way to pushing us to the limit.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: Horn Dawg decides it’s time to get his, tosses three touchdowns and no interceptions and we have a Russell Wilson/Montee Ball double Heisman conundrum all over again.

 

Opponent: at Iowa

Date: 9/22

This is the game most likely to … ruin September

We will win if … we play smashmouth football and hit our shots when we take them, and also if Horn Dawg doesn’t hand them two touchdowns again.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: UW wins, covers, and on we roll.


Opponent:
 NEBRASKA

Date: 10/6

This is the game most likely to … remind me of how wildly we’ve owned them since they’ve joined the B1G.

We will win if … we bully them up front and force them to tackle Taylor for four quarters.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: On the road could be interesting, but this is in Madison and Frost doesn’t have his guys in there yet. W.

 

Opponent: at No. 14 Michigan

Date: 10/13

This is the game most likely to … make me tweet mean things from the bar that I semi-regret the next morning.

We will win if … Harbaugh continues his trend of all hype/no bite.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: A reprisal of several years ago where we ran the ball 61 times in a row against a Michigan team that had no interest in trying to tackle.


Opponent:
 ILLINOIS

Date: 10/20

This is the game most likely to … be a cheap ticket before the weather turns to sh*t.

We will win if … Lovie is unsuccessful in getting the Bears to play instead of the Illini

What’s for sure actually going to happen: Good god look at that beard!

 

Opponent: at Northwestern

Date: 10/27

This is the game most likely to … have a torrential downpour, 15 fumbles, a power outage, and escaped animals from the zoo on the field.

We will win if … talent trumps the bizarre.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: I honestly don’t have the patience in my life for another Evanston debacle. Just win, baby.


Opponent: 
RUTGERS

Date: 11/3

This is the game most likely to … be your annual reminder that Rutgers is in the B1G for no other reason than Delaney’s greed.

We will win if … yada yada yada.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: We all know how this game’s gonna go, instead, let’s admire the power of unfortunate abbreviations:

Opponent: at No. 10 Penn State

Date: 11/10

This is the game most likely to … determine some Playoff implications.

We will win if … we do not do what we did in the B1G Championship a few years ago and let them throw 60-yard touchdowns over our heads.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: Call me crazy but I’m feeling good about our chances of walking out of Happy Valley with a dub now that Saquon plays on Sundays.


Opponent: 
at Purdue

Date: 11/17

This is the game most likely to … give us that random scare from a team that is demonstrably worse than us in every facet of the game.

We will win if … Jeff Brohm is not actually some kind of wizard.

What’s for sure actually going to happen: #BoilerDown


Opponent:
 MINNESOTA

Date: 11/24

This is the game most likely to … make me go to one of those “days since” websites and calculate exactly how many days it’s been since they had the Axe.

We will win if … their rowboats don’t have cannons on the side.

What’s for sure actually going to happen:

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

 

This week’s theme is COMMERCIALS GONE AWRY. Let’s enjoy Kentucky Fried Racism!

PREDICTION CITY
Don’t look at me: I’m caught in the hype too! I can’t help it. This team is too damn talented, experienced, and well-coached to expect anything less than history. The schedule’s got good juice with Michigan/Penn State/Iowa on the road and a decent name in the non-conference, so there might even be room to drop one of those roadies, beat OSU in the B1G Championship, and still weasel our way into the playoff. That seems like a reasonable route. But I am not a reasonable man.


THE PICK:

12-0, finally get over the OSU B1G Championship hump, and shake up the whole damn playoff with some bruiser Badger ball. LET’S go!

 

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ON WISCONSIN