11-20-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've made it through another week. Something to be proud of I'd say. Can you believe Thanksgiving's next week already? What in the world happened to November? I guess it felt so much like October here in Minnesota, that I blinked and missed it.

No worries. I haven't missed what's been happening to my favorite teams over the last week And after all, that's what my Friday column is all about, right?!

Let's get on with it... there's a weekend upon us!

”All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.”
- Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902), iconoclastic Victorian author who published a variety of works

This one struck me, not because I've gone beyond my means, but because I did decide to splurge on a little piece of technology the other day. Yes, I do love my gadgets, but until now I hadn't really gone all out on a phone. But Wednesday, I upgraded to the Droid from Verizon. Not just because of my Star Wars geekiness (though don't think that didn't play some role). But because I wanted a smart phone and relatively speaking, this one's a freaking genius!

My cousin Lisa will be desperately disappointed that I didn't get an iPhone. But ultimately I decided I wanted to stay with Verizon instead of switching to AT&T. And that meant going with the Droid. So I'll give this a run for a couple of years and see if the fine folks at Apple decide to widen their service provider list a bit come 2011.

But you didn't come here to read about a phone...

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That's right. It's Friday. And that means it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment:

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten which puts them in a 3-way tie for second place in the conference.

Sure, second place sounds good, but the conference title has already been clinched by the the Ohio State Buckeyes. Even if OSU were to be upset by Michigan this weekend, they hold head-to-head tie-breakers with each of the three teams in second. Rather anti-climactic, don't you think?

As far as Wisconsin's concerned, they could still qualify second for Big Ten bowl consideration if they win and Iowa and Penn State both lose. But Iowa's at home versus Minnesota, and as I indicated on Wednesday, that one's all but in the Hawkeyes' pocket. Penn State is on the road at Michigan State. That's more of a contest, but still one the Lions should win.

So if everything goes to form, Wisconsin's looking at an invite to either the Outback Bowl or the Champs Sports Bowl. There's an outside shot at the Capital One Bowl, but like I said, they'd need a lot of help there. They played in the Champs Sports Bowl last year, so the Outback Bowl would be a more likely destination (Bowls don't generally like to invite teams two years in a row... it usually decreases attendance).

Any way you slice it, so long as the Badgers do their job and beat Northwestern, they'll be heading to Florida come January.

As for beating Northwestern, that's easier said than done. Especially in Evanston. The Wildcats are 4-2 at home this year. And coach Pat Fitzgerald has put to rest any notion of referring to them as the “Mildcats”.

Their offense can be slowed - they haven't scored more than 30 points since September - but still has a history of giving the Badger defense fits. Wisconsin has done a better job this year defending against offenses that pride themselves on speed and athleticism, but it's still not their strong suit.

What I worry more about is Wisconsin turning the ball over against Northwestern's opportunistic defense. Wisconsin's done a much better job of protecting the ball over the last couple of weeks, but I still don't trust them entirely.

Still, I've got to give credit where it's due, and credit for last week's 45-24 win over Michigan goes to Big Ten Player of the Week: Badger QB Scott Tolzien. Tolzien completed 16 of his 24 pass attempts for 240 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Don't read too far into those numbers. Wisconsin's offense was still predicated on their 229 yards rushing. But Tolzien certainly stepped up his play against a beleaguered Michigan defense.

I expected them to beat Michigan. I just didn't expect them to be quite so dominant doing it. It gives me hope for the last three games of the year (@Northwestern, @Hawaii, and the bowl game). But I count on nothing.

This week's game against the Wildcats kicks off at 2:30pm central time. You can catch it on the Big Ten Network.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 7-12-2, which gives them 16 points and places them last in both the Northwest Division and the Western Conference.

I went to the game Wednesday night and witnessed a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.


I don't know how many different ways I can say, “this season's going to be a struggle”. But that's just the reality of what Wild fans are facing.

For some reason this team just isn't executing what coach Todd Richards and GM Chuck Fletcher are trying to do. I wish I could tell you why, but it's a mystery to just about everybody.

It's not entirely a lack of skill, though there's no question that they'll have to bring in more talent to make this system run at an optimum level. What's most disappointing is the lapses in effort.

Coach Richards said it best Wednesday night in his post-game presser. It's not that Phoenix is a more talented team, they just worked harder and gave better effort.

When you're a struggling hockey team, you have to focus on the things you can control. In sports, that often boils down to attitude and effort. Right now I don't know that anybody's sure about the players' attitude. And as for their effort? Clearly that's sporadic at best.

I don't know what to tell you Wild fans. Something's got to give. Either the boys are going to start giving a more consistent effort, or there are going to be some wholesale changes come trade deadline time.

I don't want to get too bogged down in the latter line of thinking just yet. But it's certainly a potential reality that has to be considered.

The Wild try to get back on track tonight as they host the New York Islanders. Then it's a 4-day break before the Colorado Avalanche come to town next Wednesday.

That's going to wrap things up for this week. Hope your weekend's an restful and entertaining one.

I'll be back on Monday - most likely with a recap of the end of the year Major League Baseball awards. Until then, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I might have come, at least in small part, to read about a phone.