Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wisconsin Badgers head to the 2011 Rose Bowl

On the day that the Wisconsin Badgers officially punched their ticket to the 2011 Rose Bowl it is the perfect time to look back at their impressive 2010 regular season. The Wisconsin Badgers football team started out their 2010 campaign with their normal cupcake non-conference schedule:
- Saturday, September 4, 2010: beat UNLV 41-21 (in Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Saturday, September 11, 2010: beat San Jose State 27-14 (@ Camp Randall)
- Saturday, September 18, 2010: beat Arizona State 20-19 (@ Camp Randall)
- Saturday, September 25, 2010: beat Austin Peay 70-3 (@ Camp Randall)

Despite dismantling Austin Peay, a near loss to Arizona State the week before did not instill confidence in Badgers nation as they started the Big Ten campaign on the road against Michigan State. The Badgers fell flat in East Lansing, Michigan losing to Michigan State 34-24.

Following their loss to Michigan State, the last thing the Badgers were thinking about was the Rose Bowl especially with the prospects of facing Ohio State and Iowa in consecutive weeks. Instead of hanging their heads, the Badgers hunkered down and rattled over 7 consecutive Big Ten wins:
- Saturday, October 9, 2010: beat Minnesota 41-23 (@ Camp Randall)
- Saturday, October 16, 2010: beat Ohio State 31-18 (@ Camp Randall)
- Saturday, October 23, 2010: beat Iowa 31-30 (in Iowa City, Iowa)
- Saturday, November 6, 2010: beat Purdue 34-13 (in West Lafayette, Indiana)
- Saturday, November 13, 2010: beat Indiana 83-20 (@ Camp Randall)
- Saturday, November 20, 2010: beat Michigan 48-28 (in Ann Arbor, Michigan)
- Saturday, November 27, 2010: beat Northwestern 70-23 (@ Camp Randall)

Thanks to overpowering the Big Ten, the Badgers finished 11-1 in a three-way tie as 2010 Big Ten Champions with Michigan State and Ohio State. That gave the Badgers their first Big Ten crown in 11 years. The reason that there was a three-way tie atop the Big Ten was that Michigan State lost to Iowa, Ohio State lost to Wisconsin, and Wisconsin lost to Michigan State. Since Ohio State and Michigan State did not play each other, there was no way to break the tie for the Big Ten crown. By virtue of losing first (among other factors), the Badgers had the highest BCS ranking among Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State so they are the Big Ten representative in the 2011 Rose Bowl.

Ohio state finished in front of Michigan State in the final BCS rankings, so they are going to the Sugar Bowl to face the Arkansas Razorbacks. Despite finishing the season 11-1, Michigan State missed out on a BCS bowl game while the University of Connecticut (8-4, unranked Big East Champ) is going to a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, which is a BCS game.

One thing that will help Michigan State and the other 8 Big Ten teams not going to a BCS bowl game is that each conference member splits the bowl payouts evenly. The Rose Bowl paid the Big Ten roughly $20 million in 2010 and the Sugar Bowl paid the Big Ten roughly $10 million in 2010. That money gets pooled (minus expenses) and split evenly across all Big Ten members. Michigan State would rather be playing in the Rose Bowl, but they still get 1/11th of the Rose Bowl purse.

The Wisconsin Badgers are set to face Texas Christian University ("TCU") Horn Frogs in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2011 at 4 pm central. TCU comes into the game with a record of 12-0, ranked 3rd in the BCS standings, and heading to a BCS game for the second straight year. Last year TCU lost to Boise State 17 to 10 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

In anticipation of Wisconsin's match-up with the Horned Frogs, let's take a quick look at their opponent. TCU is located in Fort Worth, Texas and has an enrollment of 8,865. TCU is currently a member of the Mountain West Conference but are joining the Big East Conference as "full" member in all sports as the 17th member of the Big East on July 1, 2012. Finally, TCU are coached by Gary Patterson who been the head coach at TCU since 2000 and is 97-28 (.776 winning percentage) as a head coach at TCU.

TCU is ranked 8th nationally in rushing at 261.17 yards per game and 53rd in passing at 230.33 yard per game. Much like the Badgers, TCU has three impressive running backs and a quality quarterback. The added element that TCU's four-year starting quarterback Andy Dalton brings to that table is that he can pick up yards with his arm and his legs. That means the Badgers will have to plan for the dual-threat that Dalton brings to the table.

TCU has a very impressive defense as well. TCU ranks 1st in the nation in scoring at 11.42 points per game, yards given up per game at 215.42 yards per game, and passer efficiency. Probably the most important defensive stat is that TCU ranks 3rd in the country against the run. TCU only allows 89.17 yards per game, so it should be an interesting match-up on the ground between TCU and Wisconsin.

I know this post is getting rather lengthy so just trust me when I say much like the Badgers, TCU has a good chance to score on special teams.

Finally in the Allen Brown portion of the post, UW and TCU both played UNLV this year so we have a way of deciding the outcome of the game even before it is played. As chronicled above, the Badgers defeated UNLV 41-21 on Saturday, September 4, 2010 while TCU defeated UNLV 48-6 on Saturday, October 30, 2010. By the Allen Brown transitive property, TCU should win.

As you can see from above, the Wisconsin Badgers have their worked cut out for them when they meet the 3-point favorite TCU Horned Frogs in the 2011 Rose Bowl.

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