Thursday, October 23, 2008

When Will the Death Spiral Stop?

If you're a Wisconsin football fan like I am, the past four Saturdays have been painful. The past two Sabados have actually advanced from painful to excruciating, as the Badgers have resembled a lower echelon MAC team. Wait, that's not fair. I mean, even Toledo managed to beat Michigan.

The symptoms of this colossal sucking are myriad-- atrocious quarterbacking, poor injury-affected offensive line play, total inconsistency across the board, pathetic blocking on special teams, consistently horrible field position, a complete failure to make big plays on offense, a schizophrenic defense, poor tackling, lack of turnovers, questionable play-calling, no resiliency, I could go on. But the underlying causes-- Poor coaching? Being overrated? A defense that's too light in the pants? Lack of mental toughness and heart?-- are unknowable.

All that a fan can do is rub a rabbit's foot, write an angry letter to the athletic department, turn your Badger ball cap inside out and wear it backwards, and hope that some semblance of sanity is restored. Will we at least see a competitive game this Saturday against the University of Illinois and their Fightin' extinct indigenous peoples? I dunno. I sure hope so. I know that all offseason the players talked a lot, a lot, about the loss at Illinois last season, and saw it as a game that they could and should have won. That should get them fired up, although you should pretty much be fired up for any Big Ten game.

I do know that Illinois has its own problems. They miss Big Ten POY Rashard Mendenhall badly, and their two senior safeties even more. Hell, they lost to Minnesota at home. But they do have perhaps the best running back in the league at quarterback, a great wideout and corner, and some pretty solid talent around them. Realistically, given Wisconsin's recent utter suckability, you have to think that Illinois should win, and UW will have its first three game home losing streak in quite some time. But hell, it'd be a treat just to see Wisconsin not play terribly, to see them be in the game and maybe have a chance to win in the final minutes. Here's hoping.

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