As we do every week, we start things off with our beloved Broncos.
Our Broncos go to battle with the WAC’s Fresno State at the same WAC time (weeknights) and same WAC channel (ESPN). Ah, the good ole' days...
Time: 7PM MT
Line: Broncos by 21
No matter their record, the Bulldogs will present a good test for our Broncos.
Join me and Mr. Badger for more after the jump...
Watch out for... Fresno QB Derek Carr, who ended the 2010 season with a QB rating second in the WAC to YouKnowWho. Also watch out for ball-secure RB Robbie Rouse, who has already racked up 600 yards on the ground this year. He averaged over 4 yards per carry against our Broncos last year and will be looking to at least help his Bulldogs put some points on the board. If Revenge was the theme for our game against Nevada last week, it is the Bulldogs’ theme for this week. No doubt they want to avenge last year’s 51-0 beatdown on the Blue Turf.
Mr. Badger knows he says this every week, but this team is much better than their record. These Bulldogs could easily be 4-1, against some very good competition he might add. They led Ole Miss 28-27 entering the 4th quarter, and were it not for a -2 turnover margin – and three missed field goals – would have beaten them. Fresno put up a good fight against Nebraska as well, but could not close out the game in the 2nd half. Fresno outgained both Ole Miss and Nebraska, yet somehow ended up on the losing end of things each time. What’s that you say? Yards gained don’t determine the winner? I think Pat Hill would be interested in hearing this news.
After much debate this week over just HOW good our Broncos are, they will strap it up in less than 48 hours to help settle the debate... or stoke the flames further. As far as where Mr. Badger stands, he is always happy with his Broncos, no matter how well they perform on the field. You see, his den is underneath the SEZ bleachers - next to the Entrance Tunnel - and not once has a player ever stepped on it. In fact, just this Spring, the Muscle Hampster himself stopped the entire team's run onto the practice field when he spotted one of Mr. Badger's little cubs on the edge of the Blue Turf.
The Hampster gently scooped up the fuzzy little critter and placed him back into the entrance of Mr. Badger's den. The Hampster then gave Mr. Badger a mini-salute and resumed leading his troops onto the practice field.
And THAT'S why I love my Broncos... they place family, friends, and little creatures above winning football games. In short, they have their priorities in place. And so do we. Last season's crushing loss to Nevada was the best example of how much our fan base values our players over winning. May we never forget this, and may we always remember what's most important: the education and development of 100 young men in preparation for a happy and successful life after college. On that subject, Mr. Badger was thrilled to see how well Kyle Brotzman is doing these days. He intends to have tea with him next week, I believe.
Part 2: Wanting our Opponents to Do Well
Needless to say, our opponents have not done us any favors this season. Moving to the MWC has barely improved our SoS, but have Faith. San Diego is emerging from its decade-long slumber, Air Force (if we can keep them in the conference) is a perennial Top-25 contender, Fresno always has the ability to (finally) break through and beat some of those AQ teams they keep scheduling, and it looks like we are tied at the hip to BYU no matter what conference we land in.
Plus, future seasons portend even better non-conference opponents. Next year features Michigan State of course, and it's starting to look like we might have one of the PAC-Northwest teams on our schedule every year as well. So, here's what our schedule (worst case) will probably look like in years to come:
Featured AQ team to open season (strong national interest)
PAC-Northwest team (AQ team with strong regional and good national interest)
BYU (respectable AQ-like team with strong regional and national interest)
Nevada (respectable non-AQ team with good regional interest)
Fresno (respectable non-AQ team with good regional interest)
Hawaii (respectable non-AQ team with good regional interest)
San Diego State (respectable non-AQ team with good regional interest)
If we are lucky, we will also play these teams:
Air Force (strong regional and good national interest)
TCU (strong regional and good national interest)
Utah (strong regional and good national interest)
Hopefully our new AD can make these wishes come true. In the meantime, we've got this season to worry about.
Air Force (3-1) at Notre Dame (3-2) - 1:30
Line: Irish by 16
Mr. Badger says this is his "Game of the Week". Should the Falcons put a W on the board, Mr. Badger says he'll do his "Hula Victory Dance". Not sure if this is something any of us want to see, but he'll be doing it nonetheless.
The Golden Domers are much better than their record indicates. (boy it hurts to say that) If they play clean football, Brian Kelly's boys should easily take care of our servicemen. BUT: playing at home is not necessarily an advantage for Notre Dame these days. The pressure's on to win, and win now. If Notre Dame starts fumbling away opportunities, or gets behind early, all bets are off. Plus, Air Force is no slouch. They beat an excellent Navy team last week on the road. And Notre Dame always seems to bring out the best in their opponents. Here's hoping Air Force gives its men and women overseas much to cheer about come Saturday afternoon.
Another year without a National Title? Why are we even cheering our team then?
Georgia (3-2) at Tennessee (3-1) - 5PM (ESPN2)
Line: Dawgs by 1
Georgia has yet to put together a complete game this season (sound familiar?), but is at least moving in the right direction. Losing star linebacker Cornelius Washington will not help their cause, but the Dawgs have been dealing with losses all year. They should be deep enough and adept enough to keep things moving forward. Plus, their defense does not seem to be causing them problems. It's their O. Luckily, SuperFrosh RB Crowell is beginning to fulfill at least some of his ginormous expectations (already a 2-time SEC Freshman of the week winner)... and that's scary for their opponents. Crowell is starting to look like the real deal, a special back that maybe comes along once in a generation for a team. If that's truly the case, Georgia might be onto something this season. Minimizing stupid mistakes and mixing up the offensive play calling are the keys to success this Saturday.
Coach Richt's Secret Recruiting Weapon
As a side note, Bulldog players will be wearing a pink helmet sticker this Saturday to honor the mother of Fullback Bruce Figgins, who is currently battling breast cancer. The team did not know of Ms. Figgins’ struggles until last week, when Bruce shared it during team devotional time. Coach Richt made the decision to wear helmet stickers this week, a decision that meant a lot to Bruce and the team. Here’s to another good Coach doing his best to develop his young men and keep his team’s priorities straight.
Wyoming (3-1) at Utah State (1-3) - 6PM
Line: Aggies by 11
Poor Utah State. They are just a couple of plays away from having not just one of their best seasons on record, but one of the best stories in College Football this season. As it stands, they are 1-3, very much the record everyone expected of them. Under the covers, they are a dangerous team who dominates opponents and then chokes away their lead because they start looking at the team name on their jerseys instead of the score on the scoreboard.
Winning is a mindset, and the Aggies are Exhibit A for how difficult it can be to break into. The Broncos' broke through many of these barriers along their magical run, perhaps none more important than their victory over 8th-ranked Fresno State on Oct 19, 2001. Ah, memories.
The Beginning of a Dynasty
It hardly matters at this point whether the Cowboys win this game or not, but I suppose every little bit helps. Plus, Mr. Badger says he'd like to be a Cowboy someday. Go Wyoming!
TCU (3-2) at San Diego State (3-1)
Normally, I wouldn't put in-conference match ups in this section. (it neither hurts nor helps us) But this is a special case. Who do we want to win? At the beginning of the year, I would have easily said TCU. But now that they have two losses under their belt (compared to San Diego's one - at Michigan), it's a different story. San Diego State has already beaten an AQ team this year (Washington State), beat Independent Army, and with a win over TCU, just might start collecting some AP votes.
SDSU has only one other non-conference opponent this year (Fresno), and could conceivably finish the season at 10-2 with their only losses being to ranked Michigan and ranked Boise State. This might leave them in the Top 25, which would be great for Boise. So, Mr. Badger says... Go Aztecs!
Toledo (2-3) vs Eastern Michigan - 1PM (ESPN3)
Line: Toledo by 21
Having gotten through the first brutal part of their season, the Rockets must be careful not to overlook anyone. Eastern Michigan should not present much of a threat, but you never know... As they say, "That's why they play the game". Go Toledo!
Tulsa (2-3) (Bye Week)
Part 3 - Hoping all ranked teams around us post an epic FAIL
With 5 weeks in the CFB books (it's going much too fast!), things are finally starting to take shape. The great are separating themselves from the good, and the Horrible are justifying their horribleness (we're looking at you UNLV and New Mexico).
"I said KISS the grass!"
It's now time to take tabs on the "Undefeated". They are Enemy #1 for Boise State:
(6) Oklahoma State
(3) Oklahoma at (11) Texas - 10AM
Line: Sooners by 10
Wow. An 11th-ranked team is a 10-point underdog... at Home! I guess we'll find out this Saturday if the Sooners are really that good. We're rooting for Oklahoma to lose, but if that happens our attention would quickly shift to Texas. An undefeated Texas would jump our undefeated Broncos quicker than a cricket chirps. But we'll worry about that when we get there. For now, let's hope Mack Brown still has some tricks up his sleeve. With Boise's Brian Harsin at the wheel, I'm thinking he just might! Go... cough... Texas!
Speaking of Crickets...
(1) LSU vs. (17) Florida - 1:30PM
Line: Tigers by 13
Another HUGE line for a team ranked 17th in the country. But, this year's Tigers have passed a lot of hard tests. Hard tests... I remember those. So glad those are a thing of the past. (Sorry current students... but life does get better.)
If LSU beats the Gators convincingly, look for them to finish the year undefeated and secure a spot in the NTG. Since Florida is in the SEC East (same as Georgia), we want Florida to lose (I learned my lesson last week.) :-) This puts Georgia in a better position to secure the SEC Least, er... East. And that, of course, would look great for Boise. Plus, I'm not convinced a 1-loss Tiger squad would be ranked below our Broncos at the end of the year. With nearly half the season gone, it's time to start picking our race horse. My money's on LSU. Go Tigers!
(9) Oregon vs Cal - Thursday 7PM
Mr. Badger is not taking any chances here. Even though no 1-loss team should rightfully jump our undefeated Bronco squad, we all learned the inequity of the BCS system long ago. So, down with the Ducks! (for this week, at least)
(8) Clemson vs Boston College - 1PM
Clemson is old-school. One of those teams that reeks tradition and power. It's been a wonder they haven't competed in nearly 20 years. But it looks like Dabo's got his team believing once again (remember that whole "winning mentality" thing?). It's not easy to break through, especially when you play 3 ranked teams in a row. Yet somehow Dabodidit. BC, on the other hand, has lost its magic tough in recent years and can't find a win if it were an egg in a Kindergartner's Easter Egg hunt. Go Boston College!
(6) Oklahoma State vs Kansas - 1:30PM
Oklahoma State is one of those "sleeper teams". Are they really in the Top 10? Yes, they are. And it just goes to show that
honest recruiting and hard work millions of dollars from a wealthy donor can build a winning team.
T. Boone eyes his next target... OSU football
Kansas is no Kansas State (yes, that analogy actually fits much to the chagrin of Jayhawk fans), but they still have a chance. Last I heard, the Jayhawks will still be fielding 11 players every time the ball is snapped. And being from an AQ conference, all their players MUST be good... oh, don't get me started. If the weather is a factor, anything can happen. Go Kansas!
(12) Michigan at Northwestern - 5PM
In recent years, Northwestern has been a fairly good team. They've more than held their own in the Big10. It's a little too soon to tell if 2011 will be another one of those years. They posted a good win over Boston College, but fell to Army (Army?) and barely fell to (22) Illinois. Playing at home will help, but stopping Denard Robinson will be a tall order. Will it be another shootout at the Northwestern Corral? Tune in to the Big Ten network (which I'm sure we ALL have) to find out. Go 'Cats!
(7) Stanford vs Colorado - 5:30PM (VS)
Line: Stanford by 29
Oh my, how the mighty have fallen. Colorado won a national title in 1990, but now struggles to win anything at all. Give Colorado credit for at least scheduling decent teams, however. They played Hawaii, Ohio State, and Colorado State to start the season. When you already have the PAC-whatever to get through, that's a pretty decent OOC lineup.
With no Bye Week during the regular season (who's in charge of their schedule???) the sledding just gets tougher for the Buffs. Mr. Badger has some sympathy for the Buffs, because at least they're doing it with honor and integrity. Schedule tough, keep your in-state rivalry alive (even if it means no Bye Week), and take it like men. Now that's a team Mr. Badger can respect.
Section 4 – Mr. Badger’s Mascot game of the week
Iowa State at (25) Baylor – 5PM
This week, Mr. Badger has a beef to pick with the Iowa State Cyclones. As a cub, his binkie was blown away by a Tornado. He’s never been the same since. So, go Bears!
Mr. Badger knew he should not have trusted that Sales Chicken
Section 5 - Hoping Our Opponents' Opponents do Well
(14) Nebraska vs Ohio State – 6PM (ABC)
Why? Nebraska beat Fresno by 13; beat Wyoming by 24
Line: Huskers by 11
There’s nothing better than watching "The" Buckeyes’ season go down the drain.
Washington State at UCLA - 8:30PM
Why? Washington State was beaten by San Diego State
Line: UCLA by 3
At 3-1, the Cougars are starting to look like a decent team. Finishing above .500 would be a huge achievement for this school, and boost San Diego State's SoS. Go Washington State!
Texas Tech (4-0) vs (24) Texas A&M (2-2)
Why? Tech nipped Nevada by 1 and crushed New Mexico
Line: Aggies by 9
How can a team have two losses and still be ranked in the top 25? Oh, that’s right… they’re in an AQ conference. How silly of me. Hopefully they find their true comeuppance against Tech.
Section 6 - Hoping Marquee Wins of Past Seasons do Well
(21) Virginia Tech vs Miami
To be fair, last week's assignment was no easy task. Clemson is looking more and more like the real deal (uh-oh Broncos). Frank Beamer must be disappointed, but fans have gotten used to it. Get super close every year, but don't quite close it out.
This week, they have another tough team. It will help that the game's at home, but the electricity won't be what it could have been. Here's hoping the fan base comes out to support their team in spite of last week's loss. Go Hokies!
Well, normally we'd want them to do well. But they're getting just a little too close for comfort, and there's no guarantee they wouldn't slip by us even if they do have a loss on their record. So, until they get that 2nd loss: Go Whoever'sPlayingOregon!
Part 7 - Hoping Next Year's Opponents do Well
Because it's never too early to begin looking ahead...
Michigan State (4-1) - Bye Week
BYU (3-2) vs San Jose State – 8:15PM
Southern Miss (4-1) at Navy – 1:30PM
Miami (OH) (0-4) vs Army – 11AM
As Porky Pig would say...