Badger Musings: Penn State’s Second Half Surge
Wisconsin Badgers looked ready to make their case to the playoff committee they belonged in College Football Playoff when they took a commanding 28-7 lead in the first half. Wisconsin had all the momentum, and it appeared Badgers were headed to their Big Ten Conference title in six years. As the great Lee Corso once said, ‘Not So Fast, my friends.’ Penn State’s offense awoke in the second half and dominated Badgers down the stretch for a 38-31 victory.
Paul Chryst went conservative at the wrong time
For the greater part of Wisconsin’s year, Paul Chryst showed his nuts when he needed to with fourth down situations. He didn’t when they needed the aggressive play-caller in the second half. Wisconsin marched down the field on the first drive and got stalled at the 31. It’s fourth and six, and Wisconsin could have picked up through the air. Instead, Chryst opted to take the field goal from 48 which would have been Andrew Endicott’s long. He missed it then on the very next play, Trace McSorely hits Saaed Blacknail for the 70 yard reception.
Secondary slips at the wrong time
Last week, I wrote how much I enjoyed watching Wisconsin’s secondary. They were always hovering towards the ball and making big plays when they were needed. On McSorley’s pass where D’Cota Dixon overran the receiver, I feel like Dixon makes that interception at different points of the season. Sojurn Shelton didn’t see much thrown his way, but Wisconsin needs to move him around if that’s the case. Let’s hope this is a blip on the radar.
Run calls were too predictable
Wisconsin wanted the counter trap to work all night and it didn’t at all. They were trying to make fetch happen in the run game with that play. There was zero creativity. No tosses to the outside, no draws, no run right up the middle and see what happens. The final play of the game for Wisconsin needed creativity, yet they settled for a counter trap that went nowhere. They should have tried to see if Corey Clement could get the edge on the far side of the field. Even though Wisconsin did too much of the same, they still rushed for 241 yards as a team so it’s hard to argue their process.
Trace McSorley is highly unlikable
If college football needs a villain, they might have one with Trace McSorley. He rocks a Pittsnoggle tattoo on his arm and does maybe one of the dorkiest celebrations of all-time. He does the baseball swing, but it looks like a single up the middle, not a home run. If you’re going to do that celebration, exaggerate the fuck out of the home run swing like you’re Ken Griffey Jr. or David Ortiz.
Penn State’s pathetic redemption
FOX Sports did not have a good game. I like Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt, yet they fell short in this game. Johnson and Klatt played up this redemption angle for Penn State. Excuse me? What did they redeem themselves from? The shackles of being part of a major cover-up their illustrious head coach knew about for decades? Give me a break. That shouldn’t have been the story. The story should have focused on James Franklin reviving this program in such a quick time. Franklin should have been the story, not Penn State.
Wisconsin will be the big bad power five team playing Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams. Wisconsin won the last one in 2000 by the score of 20-10. Fascinating to see both sidelines with Chryst being the calm, cool, collective coach while P.J. Fleck brings more energy than 300 Red Bulls. I’m sure I’ll get tired of ‘Row The Boat’ by January 2nd.