As much as I enjoy a big Badger victory, I admit to having a "dirty" feeling leaving Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Bucky rolled to an 83-20 win over the Indiana Hoosiers. That ties the modern Big Ten record for the most points scored by a team in a conference game. (Fortunately, it wasn't the most ever scored by a Wisconsin football team--so the 85-0 BEATDOWN of Marquette in 1915 stays in the record book. Always nice to have Marquette futility to refer to in the future.) I hope that I wasn't the only person to feel like the dogs should have been called off a bit earlier than they were.
I admit, I'm being a bit of hypocrite on this issue. A couple of weeks ago, I was cheering the Badgers going for two while blowing out Minnesota at the Camp. After now-former-Gopher-Head-Coach Tim Brewster threatened to beat up Bret Bielema at mid-field, I posted on Facebook that I hoped the Badgers would go for two after every touchdown against Minnesota next year. But that is your most bitter rival--and a school that should be 100-times better at football than they are. This weekend we were talking about Indiana--where I think they require you to take football season tickets just to get basketball season tickets so someone actually shows up at Memorial Stadium on Saturdays.
I've been on the wrong side of such blowouts--in high school and weekend warrior games--and let me tell you, it isn't a whole lot of fun. OK, we are not as good as you--no need to continue to prove it over and over again. And I've been on the good side as well--and I've always advocated sitting on the ball or letting up a bit to show respect for the opponent. (EXCEPTION: We had a bunch of loudmouth young guys in our basketball league a few years ago who thought they were a lot better than they actually were. In our first game they talked trash, "guaranteed" they would "kick our asses next time" and generally acted so classlessly that we made it a point to put up 100-points against them in our second game of the year just to teach them a lesson.)
I had to ask the other reporters in the press box why the Badgers were continuing to throw the ball up by 28 in the middle of the third quarter--and why they threw a bomb to the Pride of Wautoma--Jared Abbraderis--up by 49 in the 4th quarter. The general consensus was that Bret was trying to get "style points" in the BCS by racking up as big a win as possible against an inferior opponent--something Bret denied in his post-game press conference. If that was the case, it didn't work. The Badgers' BCS "percentage" went down this week--despite the "impressive victory."
I'd like to think that if we had an actual playoff in college football such results as we saw Saturday in Madison might not be so common any more. Conference champs or not, Wisconsin would have a spot wrapped up in a 16-team playoff if they win out--by 1 point in each game or by 63. Look at TCU this weekend. They beat a pretty good San Diego State team by only five points at home--and now every talking head on ESPN believes they have no right to play in the BCS Championship game. Conversely, Boise State blows out Idaho Friday night by 38 and all of a sudden, they are the only non-automatic qualifier that should be considered for the big game.
I understand that second and third string players should go as hard as they can when they get on the field--and that if their guys can't stop your guys there really isn't anything you can do about it. Maybe the NCAA should take a lesson from the high school ranks and institute the "Mercy Rule"--using a rolling clock when a team gets up by 35 points in the second half. At least we could cut down the amount of time available to roll up 83 points against a lesser opponent.
And let's not forget, things like this tend to come back around in sports. Hopefully I won't be on hand to witness the Hoosiers running up 83 on Bucky some Saturday in the future.