You know what I'm talking about. Something involving a second half lead of a touchdown, and then a total pants-crapping to the tune of three turnovers and 28 straight points. Ahem. Anyway, moving on, the UW football Badgers host their last home game of the season this Saturday against Michigan. And alas, due to the thing that will not be mentioned by name, the team is pretty banged up.
Starting right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel is out with an ankle injury. Starting defensive tackle Jason Chapman and starting cornerback Allen Langford, both juniors, are out for the season with knee injuries that will require surgery. If my math is right, this means that UW is missing one-third of their projected starting line up from August. Langford, Chapman, Vanden Huevel, Swan, Crooks, Andy Kemp, and Jamal Cooper. Ouch. To top that off, PJ Hill may still be out. Plus, starting DE Kurt Ware has been hurt all season, and has been unable to play much, Elijah Hodge missed several games, key back-up linebacker Jaevery McFadden is still out, and Paul Hubbard missed half the season. And Cooper was kicked off the team, while Lance Smith can't play road games. Tabulating all of this makes the team seem like some sort of walking triage unit. And Wisconsin is not a deep team, at least not yet. It's a program that takes kids and develops them. It just doesn't have the depth of some of the bigger named programs. If there's any one factor to blame for the team's relative underperformance this season, loss of personnel to injuries and suspensions may be it.
The question remains, can the team rally at home against Michigan? The Wolverines have won eight straight games after losing their first two of the year in embarrassing fashion. They haven't beaten a great team in that stretch, but they did take out Illinois in Champaign without Mike Hart playing, and they held a Penn State team that bombed UW to less than 10 points. The biggest positive signs for the Badgers are where this game is, both time-wise and geographically. That is, the game is at home, where the Badgers have played far better this season and where Lance Smith can play. And, for Michigan, it's the second tough road game they'll play in a row, after their comeback win over Sparty last Saturday. And there's a very good chance they'll be peeking ahead to their showdown with OSU the following weekend. If they beat us, knocking off the Ohio A&M College would earn Michigan a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl berth. What Wisco needs to win is some impassioned defense, a fired up Lance Smith, and a Michigan team that is looking ahead.