SOC – Wisconsin October 6, 2012
Man, it’s cold in this house. Being that it’s October 5th and I’m refusing to turn on the furnace, I just went to search for a blanket. But the blanket didn’t keep me very warm here at my desk, so I went searching again. And I found my wife’s Snuggie. And after a brief embarrassing moment where I put it on backwards and wore it like a robe, I’ve now settled in for my Stream Of Consciousness with my arms fully wrapped in Snuggie warmth. This thing was a gag gift – it’s actually quite handy.
So, the Wisconsin game. My first thought: I feel like we cover the spread. I don’t think we win, but it feels like we keep this one closer than the spread. Just looked it up and saw Wisconsin by 14.5 right now, and for some reason, I feel like we cover that.
Why? Because college football is so college football sometimes. Pitt opened the season getting blown out by Cincy and losing to FCS Youngstown State. The next week they’re playing a ranked Virginia Tech team… and they win. Just when you think you know someone.
There have been plenty of examples of this in Illini history. Remember how the 2002 season was going, and then suddenly we’re in overtime with eventual national champion Ohio State? (By the way, in case you were wondering, Walt had possession of that ball in the endzone.)
Or 1993? We lose all three of our non-conference games and enter the Big Ten part of the schedule without a single win… and then we start 5-1 in conference. There have been times where we have looked so very bad (the last two games bad) but then all of the sudden put it together.
Even 1992. I thought we were dead in the water after losing at home to Northwestern, and suddenly we tie #3 Michigan on the road and back into a bowl game.
I’m not saying we’re going to put it all together tomorrow. I’m not even saying we’ll win. I just think that things have been so bad (one takeaway, nine turnovers the last two games) that we’re forgetting two things:
1) Wisconsin isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. They lost to Nebraska and Oregon State, two solid teams. But they also struggled with Utah State at home (Utah State’s kicker missed a field goal to win it at the final horn). They’re improving, and they looked really good against Nebraska, but they’re not the Wisconsin of the last few years.
2) We still have talent out there on defense. Confused and uninspired talent, but talent nonetheless. This isn’t 1997, when we were overwhelmed by every opponent we faced. We have the talent to hang this time. Not win in Camp Randall, but hang.
When you have that kind of scenario, the possibility is strong of a “wait, I thought this would be a complete blowout” tomorrow. The media expects us to lose, Wisconsin fans expect it to be a blow out, our fans expect it to be a blowout… perfect recipe for “how is this a three point game going into the fourth quarter?”
In the end, I can’t see us winning. We would need to win the turnover battle by at least +2, and seeing as we can’t even keep it within -2 at home against Louisiana Tech or Penn State, I don’t see how we can just flip a switch and expect to do it at Camp Randall in front of 80,000 jumping fans.
But I do have this weird feeling that we’ll cover. Maybe it’s just hope talking. Maybe I don’t want to believe this is a complete train wreck. Or maybe we show some fight and keep this one closer than the last two.
Wisconsin 26, Illinois 17
(And yes, I just used the word “hope” and the phrase “show some fight” and then predicted us to lose by nine.)