Wisconsin's win this week is the perfect example of why I dislike non-conference play. Non-conference play is good for only one thing: giving me serious heartburn.
Okay, I suppose that's not completely true. Non-con play is good for a few other things. It's nice to get the jitters out against inferior competition (except when you let that inferior competition catch you napping... see: Virginia Tech). It's nice to have a tune up for your team before you get to the significant games (except when you insist on playing sloppy games because you can... see: Wisconsin in weeks one and two). And, from a fan perspective, it's nice when rooting for a bad team to have a few weeks in which to pretend that your season will actually go well (except when you are a Minnesota fan in 2010, in which case you should just start crying into your hotdish right now).
But, for the most part, I just don't enjoy this part of the season. It's hard to get going for competition that you've never heard of, and often the games are only interesting because they make me worry about whether or not the Badgers are actually capable of reaching a BCS game this year.
The theme so far for the Badgers has been slop. Just slop. Scott Tolzien has thrown more INTs than he has TDs, and, though he's consistently been hovering around 200 yards passing, his completion percentage has regressed from the mid 70s to the high 60s (kind of like the weather in Chicago). Ball security has also been a concern for Tolzien, who has fumbled away quite a few plays in these first two games.
True to Wisconsin fashion, the senior tight end Lance Kendricks seems to have woken up and had 60 receiving yards this week after being largely absent from the UNLV game. His presence is completely necessary now of course, considering that David Gilreath is out for an unknown period after sustaining a nasty concussion this week, and Nick Toon remains out with a case of turf toe.
The defense has been similarly disappointing thus far, allowing more than 300 yards of offense and two TDs to a team that got crushed 48-3 against Alabama in week one. There have been all together too many instances of blown coverage and bad (or non-existent) tackling. With the way the secondary has played against FCS quarterbacks, I am not looking forward to watching them take on Terrelle Pryor, Ricky Stanzi, or hell even Ben Chappell. If this secondary doesn't improve, every Big Ten quarterback they play against will look like Denard Robinson against Notre Dame.
I don't mean to be a downer, but if this team seriously wants to contend for the top of the Big Ten they need to get their crappy mistakes under control. We're not dealing with situations like in years past where the Badgers are actually giving their non-con opponents chances to steal games, but making these types of mistakes against Big Ten competition will result in blown victories.
The silver lining is that the Badgers have plenty of time left before the hard games start. Next week against Arizona State could be tricky, but with the way that Minnesota has been playing, the first real test for this team will come against Michigan State (or possibly even Ohio State) in the middle of October.
Okay, enough of the complaining. It's time to enjoy the victory and the last of the summer weather. Until next time...