Breaking Down the Badgers with Cousin Ben

Welcome to game week against Wisconsin.

As you may know, the undefeated Huskers are ranked number 7 while the Badgers are 5-2 and clinging to relevance in the 11th spot. A win for Nebraska means their lofty but “unearned” ranking has been justified. Another loss to the Badgers and it’s rambling think pieces and rambling blowhards on your TV reminding you that Nebraska still isn’t back. And then there’s a game at Ohio State to start worrying about.

Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, this has always been longest week of the season for me since the bulk of my family hails from that magical land where you’re not charged with a felony until your FIFTH DUI. You can find it on the map listed as Wisconsin.

My brother and I are our family’s lone Nebraska natives and Husker fans. Our representation is growing somewhat thanks to he and his wife’s rapidly expanding family but we are still hopelessly outnumbered.

badgers vs huskers
We really weren’t outnumbered 27-4 on the 4th of July. There was a fifth little Husker fan in a stroller somewhere.

Out of the Badger bunch you see above, my 16-year-old cousin Ben (front and center in the bucket hat) is the biggest fan of them all and he’s way more knowledgeable than your above average professional sports hack. He lives in Green Bay and is on his high school’s cross-country and basketball teams. He’s a sniper from beyond the arc so if you have an extra basketball scholarship to give away, check out his Hudl highlights.

Ben was nice enough to give a breakdown of what to expect when the Huskers roll in to Madison this weekend.

Here’s our interview.

First off, my condolences to you and the Badgers for falling out of the Top 10 after squeaking by Iowa. How’s life in the not-Top 10 been treating you?

I was extremely surprised that the Badgers weren’t in the top 10 again this week, but coming from unranked to start the season, 11 is pretty nice. I still have hope that we will be Big Ten West Division Champions, and hopefully get to the Rose Bowl.

The Badgers lost by a touchdown against Michigan and in overtime to Ohio State on consecutive weekends. How were you able to handle such demoralizing defeats? Did you need to take any time off from school?

The Michigan game was rough. I worked for the first quarter and part of the second and got to listen to Michigan’s kickers keep Wisconsin in the game. Then I had to go to my girlfriend’s dance in the fourth quarter and watched in agony as our DB got burnt and ultimately lost the game. My girlfriend made a comment that I didn’t look happy in any of the pictures. If only she understood.

harambae
Ben and his girlfriend in happier times before the Badgers had to go and ruin Fall Fest.

I was lucky enough to be in the crowd for the Ohio State game (in a section of mostly Ohio State fans) and that one was soul crushing. Watching the defense play so well for most of the game and our offense move the ball efficiently just to lose was horrible. My thoughts of the OT: Ohio State’s receiver fully pushed off on the TD and should have been called for PI. Also, I don’t know why we didn’t have receivers in on 1st and goal, 2nd and goal, OR 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line. But needless to say, the Ohio State game was encouraging, yet, sad.

On a better note, you were at Lambeau for the Badgers’ win over LSU. How much fun was that game and how confusing was it to see the Badgers at Lambeau? Were LSU fans weird or what?

The Wisconsin vs LSU game was the second most fun college football game I’ve ever been able to attend, right behind Melvin Gordon’s 408 game (don’t think I have to explain that one any further). Lambeau was extremely hyped up and the game couldn’t have went better for the Badgers. I thought Green Bay was a perfect place to host the game and I’d be shocked if that’s the last college game at Lambeau. The LSU fans were very bummed and all said they were going drinking after the game. Oh, they also loved to complain about their QB, who I didn’t think was horrible other than his last mistake. But overall, very fun game.

The Badgers started the season with Bart Houston as their QB before switching to Alex Hornibrook. Then they both played against Iowa. What’s up with these guys?

Honestly, I have no clue. I’m not a huge fan of Houston, and I don’t know what Hornibrook did to get his playing time split. Hornibrook doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he makes good decisions and knows how to run the team. I don’t like seeing Houston in there.

How much is running back Corey Clement like Melvin Gordon? BTW, Melvin is on my fantasy team solely because of the way he ran wild on the Huskers.

I was a big Corey guy early in his career, but I think he started to get too injury prone, and didn’t work to get much better. I do think he’s stepped it up big time the last couple of games, and I hope he can continue his hot streak. I think he’s going to be a third or fourth rounder and hopefully can make some noise in the league.

How much of a beast is J.J. Watt’s 243 pound little brother, T.J.? He’s a fantastic player. I think he handled his big stage poorly against OSU, so if you’ve only watched that game, you’ll be extremely surprised this weekend.

Do the Badgers have any other monsters Husker fans should be worried about?

Jack Cichy is now out for the season otherwise, he would have been my first pick. But our whole defense is extremely solid: Vince Biegel is a beast. The offense will hopefully do enough. I’m a big Jazz Peavy guy (receiver) just because of his speed and agility.

Now that your sister is a freshman at Madison has she turned into a Badger super fan?

She goes to all the games, but I don’t think she could name more than one player on the football team. She’s more interested in the tailgating parties and Jump Around than the actual games.

If you had to choose between the Packers winning the Super Bowl or the Badger basketball team winning the NCAA Tournament, what would you pick? (I didn’t include the Badger football team since getting selected to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of.)

Ummmm… The million dollar question. I think I’d have to pick the Badger basketball team because I follow them so closely and go to so many games. I mean, I named my dog after one of the players for gosh sakes. But the Packers winning the Super Bowl wouldn’t upset me at all.

What are your expectations for Bronson this season?

I think he’s going to be a beast. First team all B10, 17 PPG and lead the Badgers to the Final Four. (You have to make the tournament to make it there, so Nebraska fans may not know much about that.) Just kidding. But I have extremely high expectations for the Badger basketball team this year. Much higher than I had for the football team coming in. (I told myself as long as we made a bowl, I’d be happy.)

Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday?

The question I’ve been most waiting to answer. Camp Randall’s going to be rocking, and Tommy Armstrong n Co. won’t be able to handle a tough road test against a great defense. Hornibrook does just enough to keep us ahead, Clement and Ogunbowale (yes, that actually is someone’s name) each score one and Andrew Endicott nails 3 field goals. [Note: Rafeal Gaglianone is out for the season.] Wisconsin wins 23-10 and Nebraska ends up losing 4 out of 5, giving Wisconsin the right to play in the Big Ten championship.
[Note: Gee Ben, tell us how you really feel.]

Oh, and I heard my mom is watching you guys this week. Please tell me you’ve been tormenting her. She sent me some trolling texts during the Dodger/Cubs series so she needs some payback.

She’s threatening to throw a “Husker party” on Saturday, so I’m plotting ways to get back at her if that were to happen.

[Note: OK. This proves my mom is officially the worst when it comes to sports. She’s never once rooted for Nebraska when they’ve played Wisconsin.]


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