There is really only one game that I LOVE this weekend from a gambling stand point. Conference play is getting under way and now is the time I start pissing money away.
Nebraska +10 @ Wisconsin
Nebraska @ Wisconsin over/under 56.5
I love the Badgers in this game. Their offense is ROLLING. Montee Ball and Russell Wilson are both legit Heisman candidates and will have no problem carving up Nebraska’s porous black shirts defense. Nebraska can’t stop anybody and will be going into arguably the most hostile environment in the Big Ten for their inaugural conference game. By the time Jump Around comes on Wisconsin should have this game in hand. The Pick: Wisconsin -10 and the OVER
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All season long I will be posting my rankings of Heisman candidates. I am no “expert”, but this is something to read to get you through your Wednesday so enjoy.
1. Kellen Moore QB Boise State– The Heisman Trophy is often a lifetime achievement award, and Kellen Moore has had arguably the best career of any active college football player. Moore is approaching the career wins record currently held by Colt McCoy. In addition to that record, Moore has consistently put up outstanding numbers. Perhaps the biggest piece to the Heisman equation is getting signature wins. Boise State’s convincing win against Georgia in Atlanta is the biggest reason why Kellen Moore tops the initial Heisman Hump Day rankings. Current Vegas Odds: 15-1
2. Robert Griffin III Quarterback Baylor– RGIII has no real shot to win the Heisman because I can’t see Baylor winning more than 8 games. I don’t think anybody has ever won the Heisman playing for an average football team, but Robert Griffin III is off to as good of a start as anybody in 2011. Baylor’s exciting win against the reigning Rose Bowl Champs TCU put RGIII on the Heisman radar and in the minds of Americans. Griffen III is the closest thing to Michael Vick and is must watch TV. If he can somehow get Baylor to 9 or 10 wins he could be a finalist. Current Odds: 20-1
3. Andrew Luck Quarterback Stanford– Andrew Luck is still the Vegas pick to win the Heisman. Luck is the most gifted pocket quarterback in the country and his team should contend for a conference championship. Luck didn’t do anything wrong in week one to drop in the Hump Day Heisman Rankings, but he didn’t have the signature moments that the two QBs above him had. Luck will be at or near the top of Heisman rankings all year barring an injury or Stanford going in the shitter. Current Odds: 9-2
4. Montee Ball Running Back Wisconsin– Montee Ball lost some weight in the summer and it has made all the difference. The guy looked quick, explosive, and powerful against UNLV in the season opener. Wisconsin could be national championship contender and the presence of new QB Russell Wilson should prevent teams from stacking 9 guys in the box. Perhaps Ball’s biggest obstacle will be his teammate James White. White getting touches could prevent Ball from putting up the numbers he needs to be a Heisman finalist. Montee Ball got the majority of the burn against UNLV. If that ratio of touches stays consistent through the year Ball could be the second Badger to win the Heisman. Current Odds: 80-1
5. Michael Floyd Wide Receiver Notre Dame– One of the few positive aspects of Notre Dame’s loss to USF was the play of Michael Floyd. Floyd had a career high 12 catches and also brought in two TDs. The Irish were not overhyped, they just had a game where everything went wrong. Floyd will be the focus of Tommy Rees going forward for the Irish, and the Senior could put up record numbers. If Notre Dame rebounds, and Floyd keeps racking up numbers like he did on Saturday, then he could very well be a Heisman finalist. Current Odds: 40-1
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Defending Big Ten Champs, Wisconsin are definitely one of the favorites to go back to the Rose Bowl. The Badgers only have 12 returning starters, yet somehow Wisconsin appears to be even stronger heading into 2011. Russell Wilson is arguably the most talented QB in Wisconsin history. How fast Wilson adapts to the new system and his new team will determine whether the Badgers are able to make another run for the Roses. Wisconsin is becoming a national power that reloads rather than rebuilds, so a lack of returning starters doesn’t mean a lack of returning talent.
Best Bar To Watch Wisconsin Badgers in Chicago:
As always, what’s a Chicago college football preview without letting people know the best spot to party? For Badger games in 2011, the place to be is Will’s Northwoods Inn. This place is as Wisconsin as it gets. Badgers and Packers sports bar heaven. Good food, great drink specials, and they even have a Wisconsin girl “beauty pageant”. Its definitely the place to get your jump around on this fall.
RB Montee Ball. Even though Russell Wilson received all the headlines this offseason, its the running game that still makes the Badgers offensive go. If Wisconsin is going to be a dominant force again this year, it’ll be because Montee Ball is one of the nation’s premier running backs. Both Ball and sophomore James White will receive a ton of carries, but Ball is more of the bruising back that Wisconsin historically loves to deploy. Look for Ball to go over 1000 yards for the first time in his career and he should also be a Doak Walker finalist.
LB Mike Taylor. Mike Taylor has started all each of the 19 games he has been in uniform for as a Badger. The Redshirt junior seemed to get better every week in 2010. Taylor’s 2009 season was cut short after suffering a season ending injury in week 7. Taylor should be back to full health and full speed in 2011. Look for Taylor to be the leader of the Badger defense from his Will LB position.
Offensive New Name-To-Know:
OT Rob Havenstein. The easy play here would have been Russell Wilson, but everyone already knows his name. Wisconsin is becoming “Offensive Tackle U”. Joe Thomas graduates…no big deal, the Badgers just replaced him with another NFL First round pick in Gabe Carimi. Havenstein certainly looks the part of the next great Wisconsin tackle. After red-shirting in 2010, the 6’8″ 345-pound freshman is currently number two on the depth chart, but will definitely see time as a part of the tackle rotation. Havenstein is athletic for his size and will soon be paving the way for Ball and White.
Defensive New Name-To-Know:
LB Chris Borland. Chris Borland isn’t necessarily a new name, but is perhaps a forgotten one in many Big Ten circles. Borland was Big Ten freshman of the year in 2009, but has disappeared after a series of shoulder injuries forced him out of action. Borland’s health and play-making ability are two huge keys to the Badger’s defense in 2011. If Borland can stay healthy, his versatility and leadership will go a long way to help Wisconsin morph into more than just an average defense.
Schedule and Predictions:
Oregon St– W
N. Illinois– W
S. Dakota– W
@ Mich St– W
@ Ohio St– L
@ Minnesota– W
@ Illinois– W
Penn State– W
Total: 11-1. I think the Badgers will end up having one of their best offensive seasons in school history. Russell Wilson and Nick Toon will prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box with 8 or 9 guys. The powerful Wisconsin running game combined with a dynamic Quarterback should give the Badgers the most explosive offense in the B1G. Wisconsin’s month of October is brutal though. They will play the three most talented teams in the conference including back to back road games against Michigan State and Ohio State. I don’t think Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to make it through that month unblemished. However, a trip to the Big Ten Championship and a BCS game still seem likely.
Bowl Prediction: Rose Bowl.
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