There is a LOT of uncertainty surrounding UW football right now. Probably not the best time for it, either, with the Rose Bowl only days away. But with offensive guru Paul Chryst taking the Pitt head coaching job (and taking offensive line coach Bob Bostad with him), Bielema is dealing an increased amount of distractions at a time when his team needs to be focused on one, and ONLY one thing: Beating Oregon.
Some task that will be. The Ducks are one of only 3 teams to score more than UW has this season, and their only losses have come against the #1 team in the nation (LSU), and a team that might be in a BCS bowl if it weren't for their bowl ban (USC). Yikes. As if the coaching changes and top-notch opponent aren't enough, the Badgers are still trying to shake the demons from last year's Rose Bowl debacle.
In other words, there are a lot of factors at play here. Hopefully Bielema can sort it all out and have the guys ready to go on January 2nd. Which still sounds weird.
CHICAGO BADGERS: No clue what you guys are gonna do. I don't mind passing along potential plans if you come up with something, but I'm going back to Pasadena. Gotta get my tan on.
SHAMELESS PLUG: TUMBLR
SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT OREGON
I very much like that their mascot is Donald Duck. BUT I'M CONFUSED, because Wikipedia is really throwing curveballs out there these days:
They really couldn't figure out a better way to ask for donations than putting Jimmy Wales' face DIRECTLY ABOVE the name of the article you're reading? HOWEVER, as a lover of unintentional comedy, I secretly enjoy this.
Fine, just take my $20, Jimmy. You sly bastard.
Oh yeah, Oregon. I'm sticking with their mascot, because this video makes me geek out every time. It is IMPOSSIBLE to know when mascots are play-fighting or real-fighting. It would be the exact same thing for humans if we always had those silly looks on our faces. So when The Duck started elbow dropping Shasta (no joke, the Houston Cougar mascot is named Shasta), everyone had to make a split-second decision about whether or not a real fight was brewin'. Apparently, The Duck was pissed that Shasta was doing pushups after a Houston score, since that's apparently Ducky's move. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? BUCKY VS. DUCKY.
PS - I'm literally crying at my desk right now: Please watch this. Absolutely perfect.
PPS - I always like the browse the list of famous and notable alumni when I do this section. One name really jumped out at me this time around:
The Rock is one of the top 5 movies of all-time, and it was DEDICATED to Don Simpson. Needless to say, Oregon is way ahead in the karma department. Damnit.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Can anyone stop these offenses?
Unlikely. There's no point in naming specific position battles, since this game really just boils down to which defense can stay off the field as long as possible. Both teams love to run the ball, and both teams boast super-efficient quarterbacks. In a vacuum, I'd definitely take Black Jesus over Darron Thomas, but don't be fooled into thinking that the QB advantage is huge in favor of the Badgers.
Clearly, though, everyone is looking at the running backs in this game. We all know about the MBS and his 10,000 touchdowns, but Oregon has a prettay, pretttayyy good running back themselves in LaMichael James. Dude's tough as nails:
God that's amazing. Especially when there's a girl in the back (a cheerleader I guess) duckfacing, and a little kid in the way back who looks so bored that he might actually fall asleep. Maybe it's just be, but I find the prospect of being decapitated by Chris Borland to be much more terrifying than Space Mountain:
That was one of those hits where the people who saw it live in the stadium let out a big 'ohhhhhhhhhh!', and then they showed the replay and the ENTIRE stadium was all 'OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!'
Which UW special teams show up?
Having a bad special teams unit might be the most frustrating thing in sports. Seriously, you can't punt without blowing the game? People don't punt in video games because it's stupidly boring and easy. Why do we have to give up touchdowns when trying to GIVE the ball to the other team? If that idiot on MSU didn't blatantly run into Nortman, there's a damn good chance that I'm not writing this preview right now. MSU's punt returner brought the ball all the way back to like the 2 yard line. That shit is INEXCUSABLE and will lose a close game - like, say, the Rose Bowl.
But allow me to topsy-turvey it for a second - if the game comes down to hitting a big field goal, I LOVE UW's chances. Oregon's kicker is only 6/11 on the year, and his longest field goal was just 40 yards. I've just safely assumed that they play like I would in Madden, never kicking field goals or punting and always going for it. I'm not sure this makes total sense, and I'm pretty sure I'm contradicting what I wrote in the previous paragraph, but I think a close game favors Wisconsin.
CALIFORNIA-THEMED MUSIC I'M DIGGING HARD THIS WEEK
Phantom Planet - California
I still hate The OC for semi-ruining this song for me. You see, I was kinda like the first hipster and enjoyed this song BEFORE it became trendy in every VW Jetta in America. It's also my quasi-Rose Bowl Anthem. Whatever the fuck that means.
PS - They censor the word 'gun' in the music video? Really? REALLY? Why? #blamevevo
311 - Down
Fall in love with your teachers on the wax we are self-made
Check the technique, 311 in L.A.
I really don't know what that means yet (I've listened to this song approximately 1,000 times in my life), but I love it. And you can all but guarantee I'll replace '311' with 'Badgers' in an upcoming tweet. Also, the raprocking going on in this video is insane.
OutKast - Roses
Because why not.
2Pac - California Love
What's the verdict? Is it 2pac or 2Pac? Help a white guy out.
Notorious B.I.G. - Going Back to Cali
I was all ready to tweet this after the B1G Championship, but a certain Badger wide receiver who wears #1 beat me to the punch. I'm holding a grudge until he catches a touchdown in Pasadena on Monday.
Everclear - Santa Monica
Santa Monica is easily my favorite part of Los Angeles, assuming it technically counts as a part of LA.
THE ROSE BOWL IN HAIKU
Badgers in L.A.
You know what they say out here?
Second time's the charm.
We've been going to the same Xmas Even dinner since I can remember, and the food is always great. This year was no different. You're looking at a steak that was smoked, sliced and seared, baked potato, Yorkshire Pudding (a new delicacy for me), and hands-down my favorite salad. It helps that my ideal salad really doesn't have much else other than lettuce and croutons. Anyway, the food was delicious. Not pictured here was homemade bread and baked asiago/parmesan cheese. Mmmm.
Admittedly, though, my favorite part is doing work on the scotch and toffee after dinner. If part of getting old is that you can just sit around enjoying scotch and toffee, then I think we've officially found the first thing I'm really excited about when it comes to getting old. SCOTCH SCOTCH SCOTCH.
Grilled pound cake with ice cream and hot fudge. That's a dessert I can get behind. Not typically a big dessert guy, but I devoured this sucker in 3 bites.
I almost forgot about lunch that day, which was an a perfectly grilled (by ME) Italian sausage. Caramelized onions courtesy of Chef Chase, AKA my little brother.
Took this one on the drive back to Chicago. Pretty cool what kind of picture you can get while doing 75 on the highway and shooting through a car window. Nice job, iPhone.
PS - Camera+ with clarity and vibrant can make any picture 10x better. That's a must-own app if you have an iPhone and enjoy taking pictures.
DOG POR-, UM, ACTUALLY THERE'S PROBABLY A BETTER WAY TO PHRASE THIS
I just really, really like this picture of my brother's dog. That is all.
END OF THE YEAR LISTS ARE MY FAVORITE
Because who doesn't love a good list?
TOP 5 NEW SONGS FOR ME IN 2011
1. Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks. I'm pretty sure this song won the year. Despite all the controversy about what the lyrics mean. It's also the #1 reason I wish I could whistle. Someone teach me.
2. Mumford & Sons - White Blank Page. If we're just being totally honest, this is hands-down my best singing in the shower song. I think I nail it. Oh yeah, if you don't have speakers of some kind in your bathroom to listen to music while you shower, you're doing it wrong. Showering will never be the same again.
3. Florence + The Machine - What The Water Gave Me. Hot track.
4. Katy Perry - Last Friday Night. Allllllll about the sax solo. I'm not sure if it's better than this guy working the sax, but it's very close.
5. Third Eye Blind - Misfits. Quickly became my go-to 3eb song of the year, and that's a huge honor.
TOP 5 AWESOME STORIES OF 2011
1. Bin Laden's assassination. If you ever get a chance to watch the 2 hour special about this (usually runs on the History Channel), make sure you do. Really fascinating stuff. As if breaking into a compound to capture one of the most dangerous men alive wasn't enough, one of their helicopters got messed up, requiring them to blow it the fuck up to prevent the terrorists from gathering intelligence.
2. The Packers winning the Super Bowl. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
3. The entire Middle East saying, 'You know what? Maybe it's time to do something about this...'
4. Amanda Knox being acquitted. SHE BACK ON THE MARKET.
5. Kim Jong Il dies. Not to celebrate death or anything like that, but F that guy. I hope he was extremely ronery when he died. Brainwashing an entire nation and convincing them to worship you while you starve them to death is much more Hollywood plot line to a Nic Cage movie than actual real-life occurrence. At least things should be better with his son in charge:
TOP 5 THINGS I WISH NEVER HAPPENED IN 2011
1. Every child molestation/rape story.
2-5. See #1.
TOP 5 BADGER FOOTBALL PLAYS OF THE SEASON
1. Wilson to Duckworth on 4th and 6 in the B1G Championship Game. That felt good in ways I can't even explain. AND Gus Johnson was on the call.
2. Black Jesus runs 46 yards for a touchdown against UNLV. If you weren't sure how good he was gonna be before the season started, this play answered all of your questions. The first 'wow' moment of the year.
3. MBS throws a touchdown pass to Black Jesus. That was just so AWESOME.
4. There's no way I can pick a single MBS touchdown, so just watch all of them. Admittedly, I was a big fan of the high stepper against UNLV. Never seen that kinda movement from him before.
5. This entire video, because we wouldn't be having this discussion without it.
3 actual plays and two cop-outs. MAILING IT IN.
No reverse jinxes this time around - that only works once, and I had to play that card just to make sure we GOT to Pasadena.
I've been waffling a lot about this game. Which defense will get more stops? When will a big special teams play swing the momentum of the game? Who will have more fans? Will Operation Jump Around work? ALL VITAL QUESTIONS.
There's one other variable at play here: Oregon's performance in big games with more than a week of prep time. Apparently they're just terrible when they have a lot of time to get ready for a big game. The Rose Bowl 2 years ago against OSU, the National Championship last year, LSU this year... 0-3 despite adequate time to prepare. Odd statistical aberration, or eye-opening trend? I'm starting to think it just might be a reflection of the coaching staff, since when something goes bad you should always blame the coaches. ADVANTAGE: UW.
I guess what I'm really hoping for is a game where our offense is schemed like the pre-2010 Badgers: Ball control, ball control, ball control. There's no doubt that we could throw it on Oregon and score just as fast as we did against all the other mediocre defense we've seen and abused this year. But if we're going to beat Oregon, then Chryst needs to channel his old self and pound the rock. Chip away. Keep that explosive Duck offense in a place where they can't hurt us: the bench. This is my dream. This is my hope. This is my pick:
WISCONSIN 45, OREGON 42