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Wow wow wow
The best college football game I've ever watched. It had everything you could possibly want to see. A very high big play quotient, and a very low DERP quotient. Just two great teams trading punches (NOT LITERAL PUNCHES, WOLVERINE FAN. NO NEED TO EMAIL DELANEY THIS WEEK) for three hours, followed by an all time finish, in a fantastic atmosphere. Perfect.
|MSU 37, WIS 31|
|Close %||100.00%||STANDARD DOWNS|
|Enemy Territory %||30.16%||44.26%||Success Rate||54.55%||58.54%|
|Close Success Rate||44.44%||50.82%||Success Rate||21.05%||35.00%|
|Close Success Rate||35.71%||50.00%||Points off turnovers||7||0|
|Close S&P||0.659||0.917||BY QUARTER|
|Close Success Rate||51.43%||52.17%||1st Down S&P||0.921||1.112|
|Close PPP||0.498||0.580||2nd Down S&P||0.380||0.817|
|Close S&P||1.012||1.102||3rd Down S&P||1.314||0.999|
|Big Plays||10||5||Yards Per Point||10.78||14.29|
|Yards Per Play||6.33||7.15||Penalties||0 for 0||6 for 40|
analysis after the jump...
Objects in the S&P mirror may be different than they appear
"Hey, EqPts says we lost!" Uh-huh, it does. Unfortunately, S&P is mostly blind to things like safeties, and walk-ons flying past blocking wedges to redirect punts into our end zone. If you add the points from those plays and the 3 'gained' off the blocked field goal it starts to look very much like the final margin. Special teams play, for better or worse, is something you have to add back into the picture at the end with these box scores.
So, Wisconsin is good, yo.
Yep. And contrary to some accounts, I think the data agrees with Pete's take from last week that Wilson is the engine of this offense. The way the media freaked out about this game ending Russell Wilson's Heisman chances was completely overblown in my opinion. 66% completion rate, 10.6 YPA, 3.8 YPC, 3 total TDs and 2 INTs vs. a defense that's likely top 5 in the country? That's damn good in my book.
But also damn good: Montee Ball. The guy killed us most of the game, and that run-throw option, two man game that he and Wilson played on roll-outs exploded the heads of our back seven numerous times. Almost indefensible.
Wilson's threat on the ground and ability to evade rushers also busted our coverage several times on deep routes, and was taken advantage of by Toon and Abbrederis, but that's to be expected really.
With that said, they're also clearly not the juggernaut everyone portrayed them as. Their secondary looked markedly slow, out of position, and bad at tackling. Their pass rush typically took forever to get home, leaving Cousins with plenty of time to throw. Most of their special teams units looked like disaster zones (they let five Spartans through on the punt block. FIVE!) with the exception of punt and kick returns. Their offensive line got away with murder on holds (this was a theme of the game where refs seemed remarkably reluctant to call penalties on either team), but still got beat by our speed rushes enough to fluster Wilson.
The Badger fans who think 'the better team lost' are correct, as long as their definition of 'team' doesn't include 'special teams'. I like our chances if we meet up again in Indy, but that team will be favored in the rest of their games and probably should be.
Continued offensive improvement
Our best offensive performance against a BCS team so far, and it's not particularly close. The fact that it comes against a very good defense is even better news. The offensive line seems to have played its way from bad (ND) to shockingly competent (WIS) over the span of just 4 games. We're still going to have trouble moving the ball against good defenses on the ground but, here's the thing, I don't think we play another run defense I would call 'good'.
Keshawn, after a shaky non-conference seems to have healed up and regained his Keshawn Afterburners, totaling 4 TDs in our past two games, and looking like the all-purpose threat we need him to be.
As for the problems moving the ball in the 4th quarter, I can't fault Roushar who I think called an excellent game overall. I had fans next to me screaming "Run the ball!". I had fans next to me screaming "Throw the ball!" That's what we call a 'lose-lose situation'. He choose to do a little of both, and for the most part failed. Offenses stall out. Ours happened to do so in the 4th quarter, where it looked the most painful, but he more than made up for that with a good game plan the rest of the game.
A play not enough people are talking about
But they should be: Cunningham's ridiculous grab to convert that 2-point conversion to put MSU up 14. The moment the ball left Cousins' hand, I saw the trajectory (no arc, heading upwards towards the stands) and thought, "Well, shit, that's going out the back of the end zone." Wrong. B.J., with the Wisconsin safety right in front of him, goes up, gets both hands around the football somehow, adjusts in midair to make sure he doesn't fall out of bounds, and quickly and firmly pulls the ball into his chest, all before he hits the ground. Maybe there's some super obvious play I'm forgetting, but I thought it was probably the best catch I've seen during Cunningham's tenure.
As to whether stretching the lead to 14 changed anything, butterfly effect says who knows, but if the game did play out how it did, and B.J. doesn't make that grab, at the very least, Bielema doesn't give us any of his timeouts at the end, up 31-29.
Helpful note to opponents (HAHA JUST KIDDING, DON'T READ THIS GUYS):
Run more jet sweeps. They open up our defensive front like a can opener. In the past two games Michigan and Wisconsin have (by my count) run this play 6 times for 61 yards, with four of those 6 carries getting 9 or more yards. Those type of numbers aren't exactly easy to achieve against this Spartan defense. I mean, small sample size, but still 10.17 YPC.
On the timeouts.
Bielema listened to his gut. The problem is, when he listens to his gut, it responds in three or four different voices (I'M SAYING YOUR COACH IS FAT).
I don't think he made the wrong decision here, at least not with the first timeout. If your defense can't get a team off the field on a 2nd and 20, and then can't later stop a 44 yard hail mary, well, that's a problem of execution, not strategy. And lest we forget, Dantonio more or less did the same thing at the end of the first half and picked up a shiny special teams touchdown for his efforts.
My favorite 'salty fan is salty' comment of the year so far
'Yeah, Nichol got in the end zone, but he didn't indisputably get in the end zone.'
Lulz, whatever that means. I've read some form of this comment about a dozen different times from various Badger fans, and it only gets more nonsensical and funny with each reading. They're like a kid who couldn't see the 3-D image in the Magic Eye book, so he chose to reject the existence of the three-dimensional optics entirely.
We've already beaten the odds of our schedule
Some of you might disagree with this, but winning this game really does allow us to drop a game to anyone else on our schedule (including Nebraska) without heavily hurting our chances to make it to Indy.
Let me explain:
MSU: @NEB, MINN, @IOWA, IND, @NW
NEB: MSU, NW, @PSU, @UM, IOWA
IOWA: @MINN, UM, MSU, @PUR, @NEB
UM: PUR, @IOWA, @ILL, NEB, OSU
I know, tiebreakers, but one of these schedules is not like the others, one of these schedules is easier than the rest... (hint: it's ours). The beauty of facing a horrifically front loaded schedule like ours, and basically acing it, is that the end of MSU's year starts to look pretty pillowy soft. As far as I'm concerned, anything less than 9 wins this year is now weak. Seriously, Minnesota, Indiana, and Northwestern suck, suck, suck, and we basically play all of them at home (HELLO, FRIENDLY CONFINES OF RYAN FIELD. MSU WOULD LIKE ALL OF YOUR TICKETS PLEASE). So that's nine right there, as far as I'm concerned.
Even if we slip up and lose one of those, it's not like the other two games are against world beaters. Both are tough outs, and two losses would hurt, but not necessarily surprise, me. But I'd say most would argue we have a good chance to at least split those two.
Basically, I think it's highly unlikely that any of the four teams above won't lose another game, and I think if anyone of the four can get through their last five unbeaten it's us. Getting through this 3 game stretch 3-0, as our division mates each took a loss, flipped the odds in our favor.
One more program win. One more step to a repeat undefeated home slate. One more step to a repeat Big Ten title. One more step to our first BCS bowl (Dare I say, P4RB?). Great win, but no rest for the weary. Up next, we have to meet our new big ten brethren, at their home. Big Ten titles get won on the road and that's no different this year.