I AM EXCITED. We are 9 FREAKING DAYS away from the beginning of the Gary Andersen era of Wisconsin Football. That's it. It seems like it's been three weeks since I came back from lunch to a screen full of this:
But in reality, it's been much longer than three weeks. After the initial shock of Bielema's departure wore off (and a tiny shred of panic over finding a capable replacement), one Barry Alvarez introduced Gary Andersen as the new head ball coach at UW. From the get-go, I liked this hire:
- Ignore his career record - he took one of the most miserable programs in the country and turned it into a winner.
- I still, to this day, have not heard any person who's interacted with him speak negatively about him.
- Years will pass before I'll forget that his Utah State team was a missed chip shot away from beating Bielema's Badgers at home.
- Once word got out that Andersen (I'm going to keep typing his last name to HAMMER HOME that second 'e') stayed up all night calling every single one of his players explaining his decision to take the Wisconsin job, I knew we had a guy we'd be happy to rally behind.
Coach Funkhouser, gonna lead us to a BCS title. BELEE DAT.
CHICAGO BADGERS: The season opener falls on Labor Day weekend this year (again). The way I see it, there are really only two viable options on Gameday:
- Go to Madison and attend the game in person.
- Go to Will's, drink enormous beers, buy me cheese curds, and rig the raffle so I win that damn scarf already.
Since I'm going to assume nobody wants to put in the effort to watch us stomp UMass in person, I will heartily endorse option number 2. Best bar in the city. See y'all there.
PS - Do you want to be the MUSKY QUEEN? I'd love to help! Hit me up if you're thinking about it and we'll see what we can do.
ARE YOU NEW TO THE BADGER PREVIEW? Do you inexplicably want to be removed from this list? If so, simply email me back, let me know, and I'll take you off. These come out weekly through the end of basketball season. You will be missing out, but that's more of a 'you' problem than a 'me' problem.
On the flip-side, if you're new, like what you see, and want me to add your friend(s) to my list, just shoot me their email address(es) and I'll include them going forward.
SHAMELESS PLUG - HELP ME OUT: I have entered a photo contest (SO ARTISTIC) There are actually big cash prizes and I would like to WIN some cash prizes. Hit this link, vote for my pic, and you'll feel much better about yourself. No sign-up required. Takes 5 seconds. Help a Badger out.
Before we continue to look forward, it's important to look to the past and see who we've lost since we last spoke. Unfortunately, there's plenty to discuss:
- Tony Soprano. This one shook me real good. The Sopranos currently holds down the #2 spot on my list of favorite TV shows (just ahead of Game of Thrones), and scenes like this made everyone love Tony - even if he was a depressed sociopath. Am I aware that his name was not Tony Soprano in real life? Of course. But I don't remember his name in The Last Castle [underrated movie] and, well, he was Tony Fuckin' Soprano.
- August Schellenberg. You're probably saying, 'who the hell is August Schellenberg?' Fair question. Allow me to help. Just watching a few Free Willy scenes absolutely terrified me. Killer Whales are fucking MENACING. I might have to group them in with the Third Rail and cops on horses - you know, the scariest things the earth has ever seen. I'm a land guy, if you couldn't tell.
- Dennis Farina. Absolute bro.
- Margaret Thatcher. Is it me or is her head a PERFECT circle?
- Roger Ebert. Read this.
THE ULTIMATE MADISON BUCKET LIST
We've counted down the best bars in Madison not named the Kollege Klub. We've gone through the best drinks you can find around the town. And we've hit on every important meal you can chew. This year, we're counting down the ultimate Madison Bucket List - the things you would tell your younger sibling entering their freshman year that they HAVE to do before they graduate. Obviously, some things only apply to certain segments of the UW population. I won't be putting 'go to humo' on here because I wasn't in a frat, and therefore my only experience with humo was seeing my friends on the street wearing way too much guyliner. With that said, I WILL be including certain activities I never took part in, because just like a bucket list in real life, there are some things you simply didn't get a chance to do.
So that's the plan for this season. Got any suggestions? Anything out there I should know about that maybe I'm forgetting or didn't do? Let me know.
NEW FACES TO WATCH
And no, I'm not gonna pull a Danny O' Brien and start hyping up Tanner McEvoy.
Leon Jacobs, OLB, Freshman. ALL ABOARD THE HYPEWAGON. Can I be the conductor? I would LOVE to rock some overalls. The hat, not so much. But as the conductor of the Leon Jacobs Hypewagon, let me be the first to tell you that this freshman can and will play this season. He's simply too athletic to keep on the sidelines. Even though UW has enough linebackers to stretch from Madison to Chicago and back, the coaches are STILL going to have to find a way to get him on the field. A 6'2 beast who ran track, Jacobs only played two years of football, and arrived at UW as an under-the-radar 2* prospect. Well, HE ALL OVER THAT RADAR NOW. Look for him rush opposing quarterbacks on passing downs and devour their souls in the backfield.
Sojourn Shelton, CB, Freshman. A bit on the smaller side (5'9), Shelton has already gained over 10 pounds since arriving on campus. With the massive attrition in the secondary, there is a RIPE opportunity for early playing time. Shelton won't start (Peniel Jean and Darius Hilary are going to be our starting corners), but he'll for sure either be the 3rd or 4th cornerback on the roster, meaning he'll see playing time in passing situations. From everything I've read about Shelton, he's got a lot of 'Florida swagger', which knowing what we know about Florida is probably insanely frightening. He ain't scared and we could use some playmakers in the secondary.
Corey Clement, RB, Freshman. Damnit now I kinda wanna be the conductor of the Corey Clement Hypemobile, too! Listen, we know what we have with White and Gordon in the backfield. They're awesome, and I'm convinced Gordon is really Adrian Peterson Lite (not really but kinda). And yet, all the rumbling out of camp is that Clement is too good to redshirt (that means sit a year out if you're a little slow on the football speak). A powerful back out of New Jersey (HMMMMMMMMMM), Clement might find himself getting goal line work as the season goes on. And it's not like we haven't seen the third-string running back make noise at UW before.
RANDOM MUSIC THAT I'M DIGGING HARD THIS WEEK
Ellie Goulding - Anything Could Happen
If you were at Burton's Place betwixt the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. on Saturdays during the last few weeks, there's a 95% chance that you were fucking LOVING this song because I was hammering it on the jukebox. Probably not healthy when you walk into that bar and the bartender goes, 'Hey, where you been? Haven't seen you in a while! Want a shot?!' Burton's is exactly like the KK, except it's not a dungeon, it isn't littered with jersey chasers, and it's not fucking terrible.
Queens of the Stone Age - First It Giveth
I saw them live for the first time at The Metro the Thursday night before Lolla, and, awesome. They shred real good. Were we standing DIRECTLY in front of the speakers? Did they play an incredible setlist? Would I have chosen their one solo concert over all of Lolla? Did I take a SUPER ARTISTIC picture of them MID-SHRED? I can't hear real good, no doubt, without question, and
PS - I'm just now kinda realizing that this was one of the songs I really wanted them to play, but they didn't. That doesn't invalidate anything else I said - it just kinda sucks.
The Offspring - All I Want
Oh, the nostalgia...
BONUS MADISON-RELATED TRACK
Oingo Boingo - Dead Man's Party
You need to know that 1) Back to School is a sneaky good comedy, and 2) it was filmed in Madison. After you understand those facts, you should just listen to this song on repeat for days. I have. They were GREAT days.
Alex Erickson, WR, Redshirt Freshman. A walk-on converted quarterback on the fringe of making an impact at wide receiver? Dare I say, JARED ABBREDERIS PART DEUX? Obviously, Erickson has a long, long ways to go before he reaches that level. But after Abby, the wide receivers on the UW roster have been... underwhelming. Blame it on bad recruiting by the previous regime, bad luck, Ohio - I don't care. All that matters is there is an ENORMOUS opportunity for someone to step up and take the pressure off Abby so he can do his thing of catching million yard touchdowns and being married in college. Sounds like Erickson is emerging as a leading contender to do just that.
Brock DeCicco, TE, Redshirt Senior. If you're paying attention, your eyebrows should be raised at the thought of a redshirt senior being a potential breakout player. But DeCicco is a strange and unique case. He transferred from Pitt and played mostly on special teams last year, but at 6'5 250 lbs he's got the size to be a true threat in the hopefully-not-so-meager UW passing attack. Wisconsin may be elbow deep in tight ends (Pederson/Arneson look poised for big seasons), but there's always a spot for a guy with DeCicco's size and experience.
PS - I imagine DeCicco introducing himself to the team kinda like this:
Joel Stave, QB, Redshirt Sophomore. Sunnnnnnnshiiiiiiiiiiine. Here are a few things I know about Stave:
- He throws a pretty deep ball.
- He pulls in more trim than any athlete in recent UW memory.
- He was having his best game against a VERY good MSU defense last year before they cheated and broke his collarbone.
- I think his upside should give him the edge in an otherwise dead heat of a QB competition.
I respect the hell out of Curt Phillips. There's nothing easy about spending more time rehabbing serious knee injuries than playing actual football. That he was able to compete in the Rose Bowl after injuring his meniscus is a tribute to how tough he is. But I've firmly placed myself in Camp Stave. I think our offense will be at its best when we can complement a power running game with the play-action bomb, and I feel that Stave gives us the best chance to connect on those bombs. He's got enough experience under his belt now that I don't feel like Curt being a senior is that much of an advantage. So I'm hoping Stave starts 14 games this year and puts up some respectable numbers.
WE GOT NEW HELMETS. THEY'RE KINDA COOL. BUT WE COULD DO BETTER.
As of this morning, UW has a new alternate helmet:
We're going to be wearing them for the Tennessee Tech game, and perhaps a few others. I like the thought process here (recruits dig this shit hard), but I don't think I'm totally sold.
Therefore, I took it upon MYSELF to design what I think is the PERFECT Wisconsin football helmet:
RAPTOR MOTION W HELMET. Find me one recruit that wouldn't shit himself for the opportunity to run up the tunnel at Camp Randall with that badboy on his head.
PS - If you think I didn't spend a few minutes trying to decide where to sneak a raptor into that picture after I made it before realizing that I already had a million raptors in it, then you don't know me well enough.
THIS SEASON'S EXPECTATIONS IN HAIKU
You know what sounds good?
Let's do it, GA
COLD-BLOODED SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
Week by week. Home games in CAPS.
This is the game most likely to... see the Badgers outscore my tab at Will's.
We will win if... at least 10 players make it into the stadium before the 4th quarter.
Expected Outcome: We're favored by about a million points and I think we're going to cover. It doesn't matter that we're breaking in a new system and have some question marks - this is one of the worst teams we could possibly be playing and I expect Corey Clement to have MINIMUM three touchdowns in his first game ever.
Opponent: TENNESSEE TECH
This is the game most likely to... make us yearn for the future non-conference schedules with the LSU's, Alabama's, and Virginia Tech's of the world.
We will win if... the entire team plays with one arm tied behind their backs.
Expected Outcome: Gotta enjoy the games where you can blackout and not have to worry about forgetting anything important. This is one of those games. IDEAL for trolley crawls or any other activity where the focus is more on drinking instead of watching the game.
Opponent: at Arizona State
This is the game most likely to... dictate whether we're gonna contend for another B1G title.
We will win if... our secondary doesn't get completely and utterly torched in the desert.
Expected Outcome: I really think it's a total coin-flip. B1G teams generally don't fare well on the west coast (the Oregon State game last year was one of the single worst football games I've ever watched). But I'm randomly optimistic that we can escape with a win. I say 'W'.
This is the game most likely to... include this video in my Preview.
We will win if... we remember that this school hasn't stopped us from running all over them since the Reagan administration.
Expected Outcome: For some reason I love fucking Purdue up. BOILER UP, RIGHT??
Opponent: at Ohio State
This is the game most likely to... get me banned from the filthy state of Ohio for saying downright terrible, offensive things about their meth-ridden, backwards populace.
We will win if... we don't turn the ball over, don't give up a big play in special teams, and force Braxton to beat us with his arm. So basically, we're gonna have to play a perfect game. The Buckeyes are good, but I don't think they're the best team ever like some people seem to think. Having said that, nothing easy about beating a very good team on the road in a hostile environment... at night.
Expected Outcome: Even I can't blind myself with Badger optimism to say we're gonna win this game. Ugh. HATE THEM. #METH
This is the game most likely to... make me look back at the end of the season and ask myself how the fuck we lost to those goddamn nerds.
We will win if... we can put the emotion of the OSU battle behind us and play our game.
Expected Outcome: Mark my words, this will be a SUPER trendy upset pick (I'm assuming we'll be touchdown favorites) as long as Northwestern doesn't choke away anything before the game. But I got faith. Northwestern was a pain in our asses when they were a shit team, so I don't think there will be any underestimating going on this year now that they've got some expectations. Bonus points if you spot a Northwestern fan in the crowd reading a book during the game. LOTS of bonus points.
Opponent: at Illinois
This is the game most likely to... make me remember that Illinois is adorable and actually still has a football team.
We will win if... good god you get the point we're not gonna lose to these putzes.
Expected Outcome: A FUCKING 500 POINT WIN, MAYBE A MILLION.
Opponent: at Iowa
This is the game most likely to... make your eyes bleed from the amount of times they show you the stat about the all-time record between UW and Iowa being 42-42-2.
We will win if... Kirk Ferentz is FORCED to manage his timeouts.
Expected Outcome: Until Iowa does something noteworthy, I'm going to assume we are at least a full rung or two above them on the B1G pecking order. Bring home a winner, boys. Oh yeah, we'll be coming off a bye. So, healthy. Prepared. Ready.
This is the game most likely to... make people nervously search for a different ticket under the assumption this was just a game in September they blew off.
We will win if... Andersen sniffs out any trickerations they try pulling on us.
Expected Outcome: GA should know these guys inside and out. His Aggies lost twice last year: by two in Madison, and by 3 in Provo. Kinda hard to get revenge on Wisconsin, but there's still a chance for him to draw some Cougar blood. And I'm going to this game and DEMAND a win - from the Badgers and from 'O'.
This is the game most likely to... see me drunkenly reminding everyone that I know a lot of fight songs, and that Indiana has a really good fight song.
We will win if... we let IU play all-time offense.
Expected Outcome: I'm actually not sure which Indiana team will beat us first. On the one hand, IU football has been atrocious for as long as I can remember. On the other hand, Tom Crean is a mouthbreather and Bo Ryan is leasing apartments on his brain.
Opponent: at Minnesota
This is the game most likely to... remind everyone that some rivalries kinda suck when one team is terrible for 100 straight years.
We will win if... seriously there are a lot of bad teams in the Big Ten.
Expected Outcome: Chris Borland and Curt Phillips take turns chopping down the first goalpost. #SafetySchool
I'm definitely outing myself as a huge nerd, but this had me rolling. Those crazy church people always amuse me, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed splicing them with Street Fighter II sound effects and hadoukens and yeah it's just perfect.
I like to imagine that his brain literally turned off. As in, it tried so damn hard to understand David Blaine's witchcraft, failed, and went into shut-down mode. No doubt in my mind he's still standing in that exact position staring at his hand, wondering how the impossible happened.
How I feel, as a guitarist, watching that video:
Ending on an uplifting note, I like to think that there are a ton of people in the world that would take the time to do something like this, and the only reason we don't know about them is because not everyone wears a camera on their head 24/7. WARM FUZZIES.
PEPPERONI PIZZA FROM ALEXANDER'S. 'I don't see any pepperoni!' That's because it's under the cheese (I really want Weird Al to make Under da Cheese). First lesson in Pizza 101 is any topping under the cheese will automatically taste 15x better. You see (#PizzaScience time), as the cheese melts, it LOCKS IN the flavor of any toppings underneath it. This is known as CONVECTION FLAVOR COOKING. Zander's has that shit on lockdown. Throw in the sourdough crust, square slices, and Sprecher's Root Beer on tap... and now you've got yourself a high-level pizza party in your mouth.
PS - Every single time I whip out my phone, I get the same question: 'Hey, where's that pizza from?'
SO (deliciously) META
PPS - You can follow me on Instagram right here. I say go for it.
And now we approach the SECOND time I will ask you to go vote for this very picture in the contest I entered. It's a pretty sweet pic, isn't it? Imposing storm clouds... perfect skyline... badass pirate ship that almost looks like it's a part of the skyline itself. IT'S GOT CACHET, BABY.
Oh yeah - if you've got some #foodporn or #skyporn, feel free to send them to me. It's only a matter of time until I run out of my own pics and I love any chance to feature someone else's photographic masterpiece. Shoot me an email if you've got something good going forward.
PRESENTING: CTA COOKING LESSONS
Have you ever ridden the train or bus in Chicago and felt inspired by something or someone you saw? That itch to get in the kitchen and make something delicious to share with the whole family? Probably not.
BUT I HAVE!
Challah Transit Authority
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 terrifying old man
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in the shit out of that honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add flour one cup at a time, beating its ass after each addition. Don't forget to knead as it THICKENS. Cover that shit up and let it rise - this ain't Egypt.
Punch it down and cut it in half. You got two dough now. I think dough is like 'moose' and pluralizes itself -total #powermove. Cut each half into thirds, which sounds very confusing since doing math with fractions is the WORST. At this point, you should have something like this:
Pinch the ends of the snakes together firmly and braid from the middle, as seen here:
Grease a baking tray and place your challah monster on it. RISE UP, YOUNG CHALLAH.
Preheat the oven to 375, beat an egg all over that challah mountain and toss it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and enjoy!
SEASON PREDICTION CITY
I am bullish on this team. The offense should be pretty good, and I really believe the defense is going to be AWESOME. We're gonna be blitzing every play. Andersen is basically running the defense like I play Madden, which now that I think about it is probably a terrible idea, but at the very least it will be fun to watch. Coaching transitions are never easy, but it helps to have a veteran team and an easy schedule - two things GA can lean on. I'm not expecting a third straight trip to Indy, but in all honesty, it wouldn't surprise me that much.
Here's to an exciting season filled with wins, beer, cheese curds, and some good fucking times.
10-2, just shy of sniffing a BCS bowl. Not bad for GA Year 1.
Football season. Around the bend. Dust off those thermals. Vamos.