Welcome to The Rivalry's Big 10 Bowl Preview Series, where Jon and I will break down the culture of these wildly entertaining matchups, with a wink at the seasonal music collection. Our first matchup includes disappointed fans who think it's 1995, an injured star, and a color-coordinated reindeer.
Champs Sports Bowl Preview: Florida State v Wisconsin
Christmas Theme Song: "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"
Just like this luminary ruminant, the Wisconsin Badgers are a red-themed underdog. The Badgers have struggled this year, inexplicably losing five Big 10 games after beginning the season ranked #8 in the country. Now they must face the ACC's best offense and a Seminole defense filled with NFL caliber defenders. It's looking ugly in Madison, right? Don't forget that Rudolph became a hero at the end of the song, worthy of his peer's adulation...
If the Badgers intend on salvaging their season just like Rudolph saved Christmas, coach Bielema needs to address the following points of business:
- Find a replacement for injured playmaking LB Jonathan Casillas. The linebacking core will be extremely important against the mobile Florida State quarterback because the well balanced Seminole offense has run effectively against small defensive lines like Wisconsin.
- Cut down on the penalties and dumb coaching decisions that caused meltdowns against both Michigan teams and helped spawn a "FireBielema" website.
- Effectively scheme to pound the less than stellar Florida State defensive tackles, while at the same keeping Seminole defensive end Everette Brown (12 ½ sacks) away from Dustin Sherer.
- Prove Wisky can play with the big dogs. Wisconsin was blown out by 8-4 Iowa and 11-1 Penn State, while also losing squeakers to 10-2 Ohio State and 9-3 Michigan State. Signature win? 35-32 over slumping rival Minnesota.
The fans from the Sunshine State are packing the bowl, allowing the Champs sponsors to claim that more tickets might be sold than ever before. However, the blogosphere and legendary coach Bobby Bowden are viewing this game with a mixture of boredom and apathy. Bowden has commented that the matchup "isn't very interesting." My associate FSUncensored believes that many Seminole fans wanted to play Nebraska in the Gator Bowl and now view this pairing as a possible rout with little or no importance towards building the football program. I think that these fans still think Charlie Ward is coming through the tunnel...
The Midwestern fan most hope for better defensive play than the above illustrated. If Wisconsin gets hit in the mouth early, it's going to be a long day. But if they continue to ride the resurgent running game on the typical 2nd and 8 situation, this could be a very interesting game. Fans have complained about Bielema's team lacking passion and playmakers - which Badger defensive player will announce to the 50k plus fans at the Citrus Bowl that they should get comfortable because it's going to be a long, hard fought game?
Just as Rudolph rose from the ashes of his unpopular outcast status to a pop culture icon who saved Christmas and got his own CBS special, we here at The Rivalry, Esq. hope the collective talent of this once highly rated Wisconsin team can embark on a mission of season saving in Tampa and avoid the predicted blowout that many believe awaits.
Bonus Coverage: Here is the gift bag that players will receive (no NCAA violations included).
$400 shopping spree at Best Buy