Heading into a weekend series with No. 10 North Dakota, No. 13 Wisconsin (3-1-1 WCHA, 6-2-2 overall) is in the midst of a grueling stretch of schedule that will undeniably test the poise of the youthful Badgers.
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Wisconsin dominated play Friday night and benefitted from timely goals Saturday to finish off its six-game homestand with a sweep of Alaska-Anchorage.
For John Clay, it was as simple as a three carry, 52 yard performance against the Michigan Wolverines in 2008. For Zach Brown, it came in the form of a two touchdown, 250 yard massacre of Minnesota in 2007 filling in for an injured P.J. Hill. For both highly touted recruits, it was that breakthrough game where they became less like an abstract scouting report and more like a true contributor to the Badgers' backfield. For Montee Ball, it came last week with 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Bloomington that helped his team escape with a narrow 31-28 victory.
As disappointing as the Badger's last two games have been, their season is far from unsalvageable.
With college football entering its seventh week of play, Alabama, Florida and Texas continue to rank in the top three of the weekly polls. Inevitably, either Florida or Alabama will end the year with at least one loss, as they will likely meet in the SEC championship game. With that in mind, the question now being asked is which one-loss team boasts the most impressive résumé.
The Wisconsin football team has yet to sniff any of college football's top 25 polls this season. That's fine with me.
In the waning moments of Wisconsin's clash with Fresno State last Saturday, many Badger fans had a troublesome question on their mind: Where has John Clay been? Then, as if he were answering the prayers of the Camp Randall faithful, Clay burst through the line and ran 72 yards to the end zone to give the Badgers their first lead of the game.
Until the Big Ten season begins on the fourth Saturday in September, I will swallow my pride and root for Wisconsin's despised in-conference opponents. Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State... you name them, and I will be rooting for them. After all, the more impressive the Big Ten conference looks on a national scale, the better Wisconsin looks in the rankings and to potential recruits.
At the conclusion of spring practice, Bret Bielema had Dustin Sherer penciled in as quarterback for the 2009 football season. Scott Tolzien is glad that pencil came with an eraser because he, not Sherer, will start under center for the Badgers on Saturday night against Northern Illinois.
The coming weeks are pivotal for the Wisconsin men's track and field team. With the Big Ten Indoor Championships and NCAA Indoor Championships on the horizon, UW hosted the Wisconsin Badger Open Saturday afternoon at the Shell. The meet, which featured UW-La Crosse, North Central, Augustana and Beloit, was the Badgers' final chance to compete before heading to the conference championship this coming weekend.
Wisconsin junior forward Scott Lorenz has been the offensive sparkplug for the men's soccer team all season. With the Big Ten Tournament scheduled to start Thursday, Lorenz enters as the third leading point scorer in the conference. His 10 goals and three assists - 23 points on the season - make him one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the Big Ten. However, Lorenz has not always played this role for the Badgers.
Badger fans cringe when they hear the names of qurterbacks Daryll Clark and Terrelle Pryor. Saturday morning's Homecoming game at Camp Randall will be a continuation of the nightmare unless the Badgers stop Illinois' junior quarterback Isaiah Juice"" Williams.
Wisconsin's 0-4 start in Big Ten play has come as a shock and disappointment to Badger fans. The frustration continued in last Saturday's loss to Iowa, as junior running back P.J. Hill re-aggravated a lower leg injury that took him out of part of the 2007 season. Saturday's homecoming game against Illinois, however, may present a gleam of hope as redshirt freshman John Clay could become the focal point of the offense with Hill's injury.
1. Clay Taking Shape