Friday, January 28, 2011

Being a fan 101

Today I stumbled across a link leading to some of the exciting moments from the Illinois/Indiana game from a few nights back. Now normally this wouldn't catch my attention, but I noticed the description stated that Gus Johnson called the game for the Big Ten Network, so there was no way I could pass it up. If you haven't heard about my infatuation with The Gus, then you probably don't spend enough time around me...your loss (then again, I basically just admitted that I have a man crush on someone). Anyway, Gus didn't disappoint and had some of his vintage calls thanks to a highly contested game and an exciting enough finish, nearly causing my favorite announcer to have a stroke. But then something mind-boggling occurred. Indiana fans stormed the court. Excuse me? The once proud University of Indiana student section was storming the court...because they beat the 24th ranked team in the nation? Wow. My buddy Kyle also pointed out that BYU students fled their seats after taking down the undefeated, 4th ranked San Diego State Aztecs. Okay. So this is a little more acceptable, but BYU was ranked 9th and playing at home. Is that really enough cause for a fan to step foot on a basketball court? Allow me to answer said question along with a few others regarding proper fan etiquette. Trust me, I'm qualified to do so because I attended Sussex Hamilton High School, home of the best (rowdiest) student section in the state of Wisconsin. So please step into Professor Radcliffe's office for a quick lesson on the fan's code of conduct.

A young sixth man following proper fan etiquette (By the way, that's Kyle on the right)

Chapter 1: The rules of court storming

Rarely these days do we see a justified court-storming. Kids these days think they have the right to storm a court/field basically anytime an upset occurs and I'm almost ashamed to be a part of such a generation. Let me give you an example of a proper field storming. On October 16th, #19 Wisconsin faced off against #1 Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium and came out victorious in the biggest victory for Wisconsin football in a decade. Now there's a reason for jumping the railing and stomping all over the artificial field turf (which I did rather clumsily...FYI, I'm on Camp Randall's turf in my Twitter pic). The following is how I personally feel fans should judge whether or not they can run onto the playing surface for both college basketball and college football, basically the only two categories we see such an event occur.

1. If your team is unranked and the opponent is ranked in the top 5.
2. If your team is unranked and your opponent is ranked in the top 10 AND a rival.
3. If your team is ranked outside of the top 15 and the opponent is ranked #1.
4. If your team is ranked outside of the top 15 and the opponent is ranked in the top 5 AND a rival.
5. If some sort of unbelievable streak has been snapped (See: UCLA 88 game win streak OR haven't beaten opponent 20+ times in a row)

I can't think of any other conceivable reason why fans should have the right to storm. Even if Ohio State should be considered a rival of Wisconsin (they're not), then the rules allow for a field storming. I think I've made myself clear.

Chapter 2: When to get behind your team

Ideally, it would be nice for the crowd to be ruckus during every possible second of a sporting event, but we all know this isn't realistic (or maybe I'm just missing something). Obviously, the rules vary with each sport, so I'll go through the four major sports played in this great country...and Canada (By the way, these should all be common knowledge if your a true sports fan).

- NEVER make noise* while your team has the football on offense
- Make noise on every opponent 3rd down
- Make noise on every snap when the opponent is backed up near their own goal-line
- Make noise on every snap when the opponent is knocking on the door of your team's end zone

- Make noise when your team is threatening (multiple runners on base) and at-bat
- Make noise when the opponent is threatening** and your team's pitcher is trying to get out of a jam (especially with 2 strikes on the batter)
- Constantly make noise in the 9th inning when your team's closer is in trying to make a save
- Make noise when your team is attempting to mount a comeback in the 9th (down 1, no one on-base; down 2+, 1+ on-base)

- Make noise when your team is making a run to get back into the game
- Make noise when your team has made a run to distance itself from the opponent
(Normally, coaches make the smart move of calling time-out when a team is making a run against them to take the crowd out of the game. Who says the crowd doesn't make a difference in a game? Mo-men-tum certainly doesn't)

- Make noise when your team kills a power-play
- Make noise every time your team clears the puck when they are shorthanded
- Make noise when your team had multiple shots on goal, even if they failed to score

*Fans should not for any reason make noise when their team has the ball (unless a big play is made/touchdown). The quarterback needs to communicate with his players in case of an audible and to call out the cadence. In other words, celebrate a first down or whatever, but then shut the hell up.

**Baseball is weird like that. Making noise affects both teams in tense situations, but in different ways. When your team's player is up to bat or pitching with the team in a bind, he knows the cheers are to help encourage him and get him through a tough situation. Complete opposite for the opponent. Whether you're in the pitcher's or batter's shoes for the home team or the away team, it's up to them to thrive or falter under these circumstances. I was a pitcher throughout my baseball career because I loved being in be the one who everyone counted on to get through tough times...whoa. Sorry. I got caught up there for a moment.

***No matter what the sport, if your team is surging back/pulling away, you have to get behind them. This also applies to when a certain player is going on some kind of insane run (a baseball player going 4/4 or striking out 16; a basketball player dropping 45; a hockey player notching a trick). Hopefully it's clear to you guys that cheering for a home run, a goal, a touchdown, a basket, a walk off victory and a win of any sort goes without saying (whoops...I said it anyway). Also, if your team is struggling over a multiple game stretch, this is even more reason to show your support more often than not throughout a game.

Chapter 3: When to show displeasure at a sporting event

When the official/umpire/ref effs up.

(I know that I'm in the minority when saying this, but NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER should a fan boo their team. NEVER. I don't care if you're upset about something they did. You have that right. But you also have the responsibility to support your team through thick and thin...through bone-head decisions...through flat out horrific play...through faltering in the clutch. It happens. It happens to all of us. As for the officials...let 'em hear it!)

That's all I've got for now. Three chapters. A rather short book, I know. Please let me know if I'm missing something obvious here because I probably had a brain-fart somewhere along the way. Back next week with a Super Bowl preview! Peace.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As good as it gets

For 3+ hours on Sunday, January 23rd, Packers fans sat on pins and needles as a hotly contested battle between football's longest rivals played out on the biggest stage it possibly could. In the end, not even the Bears best QB, Caleb Hanie could work enough magic on the once again stellar defense of the Green and Gold. The Packers marched into Soldier Field and walked right on out with a 21-14 victory in the NFC Championship game, returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years (has it really been that long?). Once Sam Shields had made his second pick of the day, I could almost collectively hear the entire state of Wisconsin yelling "GET DOWN, YOU IDIOT" while simultaneously screaming hysterically in celebration. Once the rapidly excelling rookie finally hit the sloppy Chicago turf, I released a sigh of relief that has to rank in my personal top five. The Green Bay Packers were going to Dallas to 4 hours and 8 beers...the Pittsburgh Steelers. No coincidence that the top two defenses in the NFL reached the pinnacle of football match ups.

Now you can say all you want about this game and these two teams...Green Bay seems to struggle to put teams away, was a boring game until the 4th quarter, or...Chicago was down to their third string quarterback because one sprained his MCL and the other should have hung up his cleats five years ago. Any way you look at it, the Packers have been getting the job done lately, and lately happens to be the most important, pressure cooked time of the football season. I mentioned five keys to this game that would help determine the outcome, and it's safe to say that the Packers won 3 1/2 of these battles (stopping Olsen, stopping Hester, stopping Cutler, sort of stopping run game). If only I could've seen into the future and realized that the Packers' failure to game plan for Caleb Hanie would almost cost them a chance at playing in the Super Bowl (can you imagine such a scenario taking place?). There was simply no way that the football Gods were going to allow that one, no matter how hard the Pack tried. We all know about the heroes mentioned numerous times this week (mainly Raji and Shields), but there is one guy that needs to be shown some appreciation, and that guy is punter Tim Masthay. Masthay, let me mind you, DIDN'T EVEN PUNT THE WEEK BEFORE IN ATLANTA! There wasn't a shadow of a doubt that we would have to unleash multiple punts to try and pin Chicago deep in their own territory. Masthay not only did this, but he (for the most part) put enough air under his punts to limit Hester dramatically. Sure, the Packers forced Cutler to mope on the sidelines, limited Greg Olsen and didn't let the Bears' run game beat them (and I can't believe I'm saying this), but one of the worst special teams units out-shined one of the best special teams units and that was flat out the difference in this ball game.

The one key that the Packers allowed the Bears to claim as their own was Aaron Rodgers v. the Bears' defense. A-Rodg certainly had his moments, but you've got to wonder what was running through his head on certain occasions (Urlacher pick, poor play after Peppers hit). It may very well be that Rodgers was a little dazed and confused after getting annihilated by Julius, but his overall struggles hurt Green Bay's chances of putting the game away. Kudos to Chicago's defense, who seemed to figure things out after the first few Packer drives, but not having things figured out right away appear to have cost you a trip to the Super sad. Don't get me wrong; I have a ton of respect for this rivalry and for both teams involved, but my Packer fanhood has no choice but to leak out all over this blog, especially after what just occurred a few days ago. Of course, I will preview the Packers v. Steelers match up in Super Bowl XLV in the coming days, but I have a little bit more to touch on today.

- - - - - - - - -

The other night, I paid a visit to Illinois (before you stop reading this post in disgust, let me explain myself...if you're still upset afterwards, fine). I know I promised that this blog would pertain to Wisconsin sports, but I happen to have a rooting interest in a professional sports team that hails from the Windy City in FIB land. This is the proud franchise of the Chicago Blackhawks (once again, let me explain). This all dates back to a sad time when I was a Freshman in college a mere two years ago when I purchased a video game called NHL 09 (EA Sports). I had heard good reviews about this game, but never really had a vested interest in hockey, mainly because Wisconsin doesn't have a pro hockey franchise. Anyway, I got to playing this game for my Xbox 360 quite often because quite frankly, it was one of the greatest games I ever had the pleasure of partaking in (I also wasn't having much luck with the ladies during these trying times). I quickly learned the odds and ends of the sport and started to try and actually watch more hockey on television (which was challenging seeing as only Versus and occasionally NBC televised NHL games). Still, as difficult as it seemed since I would have to go out of state to find one, I felt the need to choose a team to follow. The natural feeling I got was to root for the team that was located closest to where I lived, and this team was the Blackhawks. I know, I're thinking to yourself "THEY'RE FROM CHICAGO, YOU F****** TRAITOR!" Sorry if you feel that way but you're just going to have to deal with my decision.

(I mean c'mon, the Minnesota Wild? If I have a choice to start from scratch as far as choosing a favorite sports team, I might as well choose a franchise that is proud/has a loyal fan base/has had some past success/is close in proximity. Also, keep in mind that I became a true fan of the Hawks THE YEAR BEFORE THEY WON THE STANLEY CUP. You can call me a lot of things, but a bandwagon fan is not one of them...I take extreme offense to such remarks.)

So this led me to my second out-of-state sporting event experience (1st: Minnesota v. Wisconsin football in October of '09) and first Blackhawks game in my life. I attended the game with my roommates Will and Kenne as well as Will's father (Will is from Northbrook, IL...slightly north of Chicago). The Hawks play in the United Center (just like the Bulls) and let me tell you, this place is crazy huge and crazy awesome. The building can fit 21,000+, and that's how many people filled the UC on the last game before the NHL All-Star break on a Tuesday night. The actual game was a let down as the Blackhawks fell to the aforementioned Wild by a score of 4-2 (making me eat my recent statement), although the Hawks were completely robbed of a goal because of an early whistle and shanked one off the post on a different occasion. As for the overall experience, it was definitely worth it and I had a blast. It was a great atmosphere thanks to a packed house, screaming your lungs out during the National Anthem and celebrating each goal with this song (are both of these obnoxious? Keep in mind the state I've set foot in). Speaking of obnoxious, when I bought a beer from the beer vendor, he looked at my ID and instantly began yelling "CHEESEHEADS!" at the top of his lungs. Almost no one around us seemed to take notice. Probably has something to do with the fact that there's literally nothing anyone can say to me about it thanks to, well, you know. I was disappointed for the Chicago faithful because they had to endure yet another brutal defeat, but hey, you won a Stanley Cup last year and had the Bulls in the quit your bitching.

Feelin' SO fly like a Cheesehead.

GO PACK GO...On Wisconsin...Let's go Warriors...Fear the Deer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A rivalry renewed

There are moments in life where you have to step back and realize just how fortunate you are to witness something that could be a once in a lifetime experience. That feeling one gets when they are in the middle of something that they won't forget for as long as they live. These things don't happen everyday, which is why many people will remember exactly where they were from approximately 2-5 PM on Sunday, January 23rd. If you aren't catching my drift, I'm talking about the NFC Championship game involving two teams that are engaged in the longest ongoing rivalry in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. One of the league's most prolific offenses against a team that prides itself in its defense. A team in it's fifth week of win-or-go home football against a team that has been locked in the playoffs for quite some time. The first meeting between the Bears and Packers in the post-season since 1941! Have I set the stage enough? Well too bad, I have more to talk about.

First, let's take a step back and revisit the second round match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and the Pack last Saturday night. I'll admit, I completely whiffed on what the key to the game would be in stating that running back James Starks would have to at least come within the vicinity of what he did versus the Eagles. Turns out that a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers put the team on his back and almost single handedly dismantled the Falcons by putting up video game numbers. It was hard to realize what exactly Rodgers was doing at the time, but looking back, this has to be one of the greatest performances in playoff history. Dancing around, evading the rush and making almost every key 3rd down throw possible, Rodgers might as well have been playing against the Sussex Hamilton high school secondary. James Starks had a decent game, and in the big picture, he played a roll in setting up the play action pass in the Georgia Dome as Green Bay compiled a 48-21 victory. Matt Ryan (formerly known as "Matty Ice") threw as many touchdown passes to the Packers as he did to his own team thanks to the outstanding play of Tramon Williams. Could a guy have more clutch INTs than Tramon has had thus far in the post-season? Two of Williams' picks have come in the opposing team's endzone while his most memorable interception turned the tide of last Saturday's game when his TAINT put the Pack up 14 right before the half, forever shifting momentum. The fashion that Green Bay won this game in was something barely anyone could've imagined.

But now we turn our attention forward to a game where the average ticket price is reaching upwards of $800. Yes, you read that correctly. David Radcliffe will not be attending this event, although I'm very thankful to have witnessed possibly the 2nd biggest game in the rivalry's history just weeks ago when Green Bay had to defeat Da Bears to reach the playoffs. Anyway, it's time to break down some of the key match-ups between Chicago and Green Bay (in no particular order).

1. Aaron Rodgers v. Chicago defense

Probably the match-up that will receive the most attention leading up to the actual game on Sunday will be the Bears ability to contain A-Rodg. In week 17, Chicago used a lot of press coverage, which was effective because many of the routes that Green Bay receivers run take time to develop. Therefore, by slowing down Rodgers' targets, they were able to get more pressure than the Packers would've preferred and forced a low scoring performance. Look for Green Bay to try and adjust with either some quick slants and shorter routes or to continue trying to develop a run game so they can buy more time with the play action pass. It might be a big mistake for the Bears to bring too much pressure because of Rodgers' ability to avoid the rush and make plays.

2. Jay Cutler v. Green Bay secondary

I saw an alarming stat this week...Jay Cutler, who normally has a lot of success throwing the long ball while using play action, is completely shut down by the Packers in the same situation. I mean literally shut 0 completions. Cutler looked pretty sharp against the Seahawks last week, but let's be real: it was the SEAHAWKS. Seattle couldn't get any pressure on the Chicago QB and Cutler essentially had a field day. Whether or not you want to compare Cutler's performance to Rodgers' is a different story (Psst! You can't compare them!). The Bears may still use play action, but only for short yardage situations while mainly relying on the run game to help protect the diabetic d-bag. Speaking of the run game...

3. Chicago run game v. Green Bay front

It was no secret that the Packers struggled against the run earlier in the season thanks to countless injuries (which was concerning because of how the 3-4 defense is supposed to plug up the middle), but lately the run defense has looked stronger. Quite frankly, I'm surprised Chicago didn't pound the ball more with Matt Forte and Chester Taylor in week 17, which is why I think we'll see a lot more of this on Sunday. These guys like to bounce the ball outside more than the typical running back, so this could cause Green Bay's secondary to pay more attention to the outside and maintain their assignments while Clay Matthews and the D-Line charge the middle like mad-men.

4. Greg Olsen v. Green Bay linebackers

Another struggle Green Bay has had that has forced Packer fans everywhere send off distress signals is the opposing teams' strong tight end play. The reason? Our linebackers simply can't cover. I think this could be where Sam Shields plays a huge role for the Packers because matching him up with Olsen could put a halt to one of the Bears' most pertinent game plans. Olsen's performance last week against Seattle caught my eye, so hopefully it also catches the eye of the scheming mastermind of Dom Capers.

5. Devin Hester v. Green Bay special teams

Alert! Alert! This could be the reason I break something this weekend! Alert! Here is my advice to the Packers: kick it high or kick it out of bounds. Don't let that man be the reason you are heading home two weeks earlier than you should be. Week 3, the Packers go home with a victory if they don't allow the human highlight reel to take it to the house. Also, I wasn't too thrilled with the kick return TD that Green Bay allowed last week against the Falcons. I don't know how the Packers can combat their alarming special teams' issues other than...hmmm, I don't know...put your best tacklers and defenders out on the field? But that will never happen, so for now I'll just hope and pray that our special teams doesn't completely crap the bed. Not gonna lie, I have a bad feeling they will. The Bears' special teams unit is far superior of Green Bay's.

Hopefully I've done a better job of breaking down the Packer game than last week. We'll find out for sure in just a few days when the winner of Bears v. Packers heads to the Super Bowl. You can read into these key match-ups...or any other match-up for that much as you want, but in the whole realm of things, everything could very well go out the window. These teams know each other SO WELL, and if there is one thing that I can be sure of, it's that this game will be closer than some may think. It's easy for an outsider of this rivalry to say that because of how well Green Bay has been playing, they will run away with this game (just look at the betting line). However, the Bears have showed that they know how to slow down the high powered Packers offense, and the Packers have showed that they can frustrate Jay Cutler so much that he's forced to go eat a candy bar on the sidelines. Once again, you aren't getting a prediction out of me, but don't let that stop you from tuning in to one of the most anticipated Packer games of our lifetimes...God it's going to be good.

Sorry. Nothing on the Bucks, Badgers, Warriors or Brewers. Maybe next time.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Let's talk about college

Now that I've been in college for a couple years, it's weird to see athletes my age who will soon be/are already making millions of dollars for playing sports that I once played competitively. It makes me wonder had I put a little more time and effort into basketball and baseball, maybe I could be in the same position. I then remember that I'm a 6'2 155 pound white guy who can't move laterally and didn't have parents who sucked the **** of my coaches in high school (I'm thankful for that last part). This is more commonly known as politics. Enough about my failures as a child...I've decided that it's time to recognize the athletes that currently play college basketball for my two favorite teams at the collegiate level: the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Wisconsin Badgers.

Before I get to that, let's talk about the Green Bay Packers' impressive 21-16 victory in Philly last weekend. Going into this game, I had the feeling that anything could happen. In other words, the feeling that I get going into every Packer game. This one was a little different, however, because the blueprint for slowing down (notice how I didn't say stopping) Mike Vick had been laid out by a few teams during the season...most notably, of all teams, the Minnesota Vikings. I knew that defensive coordinator Dom Capers would be able to duplicate this and put together yet another genius scheme combined with the defensive personnel that has begun to gel together very nicely. The Packers' D had a near-dominating performance and only allowed 16 points, which is more than they should have because of an Aaron Rodgers fumble deep in their own territory. Speaking of Rodgers...despite the lost fumble, he had such a good game that it had Phil Simms comparing him to John Elway and analysts all across the country drooling over how well he was playing in comparison to guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees. We Packer fans have realized this all along, but now that Rodgers has a playoff victory under his belt, people's eyes have been opened. The main thing that got to me during the game was yet another touchdown drop by a Packer receiver. James Jones watched a beautiful toss by Rodgers go right between his hands, which would have put Green Bay up 21-3 in the first half. Unfortunately, Jones' drop left the game looking a little too close for comfort in the end, but a win is a win and the Packers will travel to Hot-lanta for a divisional playoff round match-up against the Dirty Birds. The key will be James Starks and whether or not he can come anywhere close to his effort against the Eagles. The Packers with a run game? Who knew?

Conference time has rolled around in college basketball, so now it's time to pay a little attention. I'll begin with an assessment of the Golden Eagles. By the way, that's the last time I will refer to them by that name...from now on, it's the Warriors. If you're offended by that, then you probably shouldn't be reading this blog. Marquette's season thus far (in fact, the past two seasons) has been very comparable to the year that the Packers have been having. MU has been involved in many close games this year, only to falter towards the end in many of them. As usual, the Warriors lack a true inside presence, although Joseph Fulce and Chris Otule have put up decent efforts at the 5. Either way, the Warriors find themselves with a 3-1 conference record, which is a pretty solid start. Granted, MU hasn't really beaten anyone up to this point other than their rivals from Notre Dame (who they completely dismantled), but they put up a very good fight against Pitt and appear poised to at the very least stay within striking distance in every game this season. This is in part to very efficient shooting and good ball movement, not to mention incredible athleticism. Look for Marquette to sneak into the tourney that rolls around every March which makes my blood pressure rise to unimaginable heights.

Next up: the Badgers of Madtown. Just this week, Wisconsin had a very disappointing loss on the road to the Michigan State Spartans...this appears to be a recurring theme. This loss could've easily been avoided had Rob Wilson not completely **** the bed down the stretch. No, I don't feel like going into further detail. If you saw the game and understand the style of basketball that the Badgers play, then you know what I'm talking about. Wisconsin should still be able to bounce back from a lackluster start to conference play (2-2) and contend for a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. Jon Leuer has a skill set that has NBA scouts drooling and went up against guys like Kevin Durant and Lamar Odom last summer while practicing with the USA national basketball team. Wisconsin also has it's solidified point man in Jordan Taylor, and JT has been having a very solid junior year (crazy to think that this guy is my age). Things feel pretty similar to last season at this point for both Marquette and Wisconsin, but if you watched March Madness last year, you know that anything can happen...ah the beauty of college basketball.

I'd also like to give a quick shout out to freshman Kameron Cerroni. Kam attended my high school and is currently playing for the UW-GB Phoenix as a three point specialist. It's pretty cool to see someone who I once faced off against playing at a Division I university, so best of luck to Kam as he grows into his own at Green Bay.

I noticed that none of you have asked about which college sport I play. Still no idea? Floor hockey. That's right. I am a goalie/forward for the Flying V floor hockey team at Oshkosh where last night a first round bye was earned for next Thursday's playoffs. Yours truly had 2 goals and only 1 goal allowed in the second period. You'd be surprised to see how tiring floor hockey is...or maybe I'm just really, really out of shape. I'll keep the blog updated on how the postseason ends up going. I have high hopes.

Round 2 playoff predictions (minus the Packers):
Last week: 2-1

BEARS over Seahawks
PATS over Jets
RAVENS over Steelers


Friday, January 7, 2011

Disappointment and Elation

You win some, you lose some. This is a phrase that Wisconsin can relate to because of the recent events that took place. I know I'm a little late on the scene here because of a very busy Holiday Season (Christmas and New Years) paired with my 3-week winter interim class, but I would still like to analyze the crap out of two of the more important games that have taken place in Wisconsin in recent memory...especially for the Badgers. You know who else the phrase 'you win some, you lose some' pertains to? This guy. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I had four pretty important match-ups ongoing, three of them being against the blog's good friend, Kyle. I shall get to those starting right now with the final standings of our 2010 NFL picks contest!

2010 Final Standings:
Kyle: 140-116 (10-5-2)(16-16 over past 2 weeks)
Dave: 132-124 (5-10-2)(18-14 over past 2 weeks)

And would you look at that. Kyle prevails. Who didn't see that coming like 12 weeks ago? Either way, it was a pretty impressive run for both of us seeing as we both cracked the top ten percent of the world, which basically makes us awesome. Something else that makes us awesome is the fact that we were matched up in the championship game of our auction league as well as the third place game of our money league, where the winner would take home a whopping $10! (in other words, your money back). Some would call it the revenge of the Dave because I not only took home the auction league title, but also $10, both in dominating fashion. Oh yeah, and I also happened to win my title game as a four seed. Yup. I rule at fantasy sports, but I'll let you know when this actually gets me somewhere in life. That's enough self-gratification...let's move on to the heart pounding action that took place last weekend in Wisconsin land.

In the granddaddy of them all, the Wisconsin Badgers took on the TCU Horned Frogs (my roommates and I looked up horned frogs on the internet to see if they were real...they are extremely horrendous looking creatures). Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for not previewing the game like I promised, but I think ESPN nailed that whole preview the Rose Bowl game thing home pretty well for me so I owe a thanks to the worldwide leader in sports. Now I think we all know by now that the Badgers lost in pretty brutal fashion to TCU by just 2 points, but I think this could have easily been avoided. I'm going to make this as simple as are the only two plays that Wisconsin should have run the entire game. Hand off the ball to Montee Ball; hand off the ball to John Clay. Should this have occurred, TCU would have had a total of three possessions in the entire game. One thing I'm still scratching my head over are the unnecessary attempts to THROW THE FOOTBALL! TCU COULD NOT..i repeat..COULD NOT stop our run game. Normally when the other team can't stop you from doing something, you continue to do it. But whatever. Two more things: it hurts to lose by 2, especially when Phillip Welch misses a chip shot field goal within a range that he's basically never missed from. And finally, what did defensive coordinator Dave Dorian expect to accomplish by giving the TCU receivers roughly 12 yards of cushion every single play? Am I missing something here? I mean, I understand that the weakest part of our D was the secondary, but they aren't that incompetent, are they? Enough rhetorical questions. It was simply put a very painful experience for Wisconsin Badger fans because of the rather shotty play calling, poor execution and not coming through in clutch situations...all things that the Badgers avoided for the most part this season. Overall, it was a very successful year for Wisconsin and it was also my pleasure to write for the Badgers blog on jsonline, which I contributed to one last time this week for the Rose Bowl game. Thankfully, not all hope was lost for the weekend because there was one last important game that was yet to take place.

And I remember, because I was theerrre (Chris Berman voice).

It was a chilly Sunday afternoon at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The wind chill reached as low as -5 degrees as darkness overtook the sky. My lower and upper body reached double digits in layers so that I could survive four plus hours of such conditions while still enjoying the game. Besides my feet becoming a little cold midway through the first half, I managed to keep warm and focused on a Green Bay Packer team that felt as though it was necessary to scare the living crap out of all attendees at the game. This was especially disturbing for multiple reasons. First of all, it's the Bears. Second, it was playoffs or bust. Lastly, I was there. My friend Kenne, who was also in attendance, more than likely would've driven straight off a bridge on the way back to Oshkosh if the Packers didn't finally get their heads out of their rear ends and defeated Da Bears 10-3. From watching all 16 games that the Packers participated in this year, I think a few things are clear that we all have to accept as Packer fans...there are always going to be questionable plays called by Mr. McCarthy...Green Bay will either keep every game close or win quite handily...Aaron Rodgers is slowly coming into his own when it comes to pulling out much needed games...I want to have Aaron Rodgers' babies...the Packers can hang with any team in the NFL. Okay, so some of you might not agree on the fourth statement, but you should. Upcoming this Sunday is the Packers' first round playoff matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Honestly, anything could happen in this game and you basically have to throw out the first game between these two clubs. Michael Vick only played one half and both teams have suffered multiple injuries since week one, so Dom Capers will have to stir up a completely revamped game plan for the Eagles explosive offense and the elusive dog fighter himself.

After the Packer game, I will partake in a doubles ping pong tournament with my good friend, Boom. Should the Packers lose, I'm banking on doing some major work in that tourney to avenge my beloved Green and Gold. Best case scenario: the Packers win, I win, we're all happy. As much as I know how you would like to hear a prediction from me for this game, it's just not gonna way am I even touching that. However, I'll take a stab at the other three playoff games on the week 1 slate:

Ravens OVER Chiefs
Saints OVER Seahawks
Jets OVER Colts