It was hard to watch Florida State shred a Wisconsin team that was ranked #8 nationally in the preseason and had seemed to discover it's offensive rhythm of late. Just about everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Bagers. Penalties, back breaking turnovers, lack of defensive intensity, inability to finish drives with touchdowns...The Madison faithful who skipped this game were probably secretly patting themselves on the back.
Stop Giving the Ball to the Other Team
Blowouts usually include some version of Team A's mistakes directly leading to Team B's points. The Champs Sports Bowl followed this recipe for disaster, as Wisconsin turned the ball over three times, each TO having worse consequences than the next. FSU took a Dustin Sherer fumble 80 yards to the house, than PJ Hill coughed up a fumble to stall another promising Wisconsin drive...Finally, the tastefully named Dekota Watson picked up another Sherer fumble and ran 51 yards to paydirt. FSU did a good job of maintaining pressure on the passer when Wisconsin was forced to throw. The Seminole D obviously didn't respect the deep passing of Wisconsin, blitzing on any down, even typical "rush 3, sit back 8" downs.
If At First You Don't Succeed...
Then keep running the ball. FSU's offensive line was manhandled the entire first half, getting no push and allowing QB Christian Ponder to absorb some monster hits. After some halftime adjustments, such as widening the splits of the lineman, Florida State ran for 114 second half yards and 2 touchdowns. The Wisconsin strategy to not run blitz with linebackers became impotent and resulted in Seminole RB's not being touched until they hit the 2nd level of the defense.
Don't Switch Horses in Midstream
Bret Bielema didn't/couldn't change his teams MO (read: power running) for the Champs Sports Bowl. And while the Badgers did run for 201 yards against a solid ACC defense, it's extremely hard to score touchdowns without any offensive versatility. A typical Wisconsin drive from Saturday's rout would involve 3-4 effective running plays and then quickly get bogged down, only to end in a TO, FG, or punt.
What Does it All Mean?
Florida State will be solid/spectacular next year, returning Christian Ponder and most of the offensive and defensive starters to compete with Georgia Tech for ACC supremacy. Bret Bielema will survive to coach next year, albeit with a low rated recruiting class and a complimentary hot seat from the Madison admin. For the Big 10, this was a black eye. The 3rd best Big 10 football program from the past 10 years looked slow and predictable. Hopefully following bowls will show a different side of the Big 10, but the Champs Sports Bowl didn't ease any Midwestern minds.