A happy Sunday evening to you all--I hope you enjoyed your weekends. Having the Monday morning blues? Our second matchup went down last week, in case you need a little smile. If that's not good enough, let's play a third one, huh? Remember, every game will be a one-game simulation on What-If Sports. All the rules can be found here. Not requiring that, read on, fair sir/madam. Already, 2003 Penn State and 1996 Purdue have taken their place in the second round; who will join them? Let's meet the contestants:
#6: 2002 Northwestern
The high of a (shared) Big Ten title quickly became the low of the 2002 Northwestern football campaign. Northwestern's three wins came against 2-10 Duke, 2-10 Navy, and 3-9 Indiana, all decided by less than a touchdown. On the uglier other end of the spectrum were a 49-0 drubbing at the hands of Penn State and a 62-10 pasting by Iowa. The 'Cats allowed a whopping 41.1 ppg, 502.3 ypg, and 5.4 ypc, while a mid-season injury to Brett Basanez affected his efficiency. These would prove growing pains for Randy Walker's squad, but the 2002 campaign was ugly nonetheless.
#11: 2001 Wisconsin
Losing the Axe to 4-7 Minnesota, a 63-32 shellacking at the hands of 5-7 Indiana (certainly explains a lot about Bielema's antipathy--maybe ordered from Alvarez himself?), and a 2-3 record in games decided by a touchdown or less, seal a disappointing season for the Badgers. Barry's boys managed to outgain their opponents by an average of 389.9 to 370.8 yards per game but just couldn't put it all together in the end, missing the postseason entirely. Perhaps it was the 66.7% FG average of the two kickers they tried letting them down in crucial situations, perhaps it was just some intangible struggle; for the schedule Wisconsin played, I'm surprised they weren't at least 7-5 and bowl eligible.
God, I miss the days of seeing that.
On paper, this one looks pretty lopsided--if Northwestern somehow keeps Wisconsin inside 40 points, I'd be a tad surprised. As we've seen from the ATS1996BTFT though, upsets do happen (troll troll troll OSU)... Could Wisconsin find a way to lose this? I know I'd feel a little better if it came down to Wisconsin kicking a field goal...
2002 Northwestern loses, 27-14
(click to make 'em bigger, folks)
Oh, we were worried about Wisconsin making field goals? David Wasielewski went 0-5, derailing drive after drive for the 'Cats as Brett Basanez torched the Wisconsin defense for 359 yards on 29-39 passing but struggled to finish. Northwestern, meanwhile, allowed Anthony Davis to march Wisconsin down the field drive after drive, amassing 192 yards on 24 carries as Brooks Bollinger managed the same maddeningly efficient Wisconsin offense, going 11-14 with 165 yards and 2 TDs. Northwestern's drives ended in 2 TDs, 5 missed field goals, 2 punts, and a fumble, and their second touchdown came with :52 left in the game. It turned out to be a game of missed opportunities for the youthful Wildcats, though Wisconsin deserves to be commended for doing its job.
As it stands, the '02 Wildcats trip into the next round, where they will meet 2007 Minnesota at what will surely be a half-sold out Delany Field.
Goat of the Game: David Wasielewski. 0-5. Holy shit.
So the bracket stands:
Only one game to go before we have our octet of awfulness of Big Ten teams since 1996; of 2004 Nebraska and 2008 Michigan, who will cement the selection of suck? Thoughts on the awesomeness that is Brett Basanez?
I have little to say here. Better dead than Red, Go 'Cats, etc, etc. Tune in next time, folks, and thanks for all the positive feedback. Glad to hear people are enjoying it!