We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Tuesday, Nov. 1, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Badgers aim for a win in Evanston
In theory, Ryan Field in Evanston should not be a tough place to play. The 47,000-seat capacity makes it the smallest stadium in the Big Ten, and the atmosphere has been described as sterile. When the place does have some energy, it’s usually when opposing fan bases invade and even then it’s like a library compared to the stadiums in Columbus, Madison and Happy Valley.
And yet, as Jason Galloway of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, the lack of excitement and juice is not viewed as some big positive as the Badgers ready for the trip south this Saturday.
“With Evanston’s proximity to Madison and the state of Wisconsin, Badgers fans often travel well for this particular road game, but the atmosphere in the stadium will likely pale in comparison to many others UW has played in this season.
“Playing down in Evanston, there’s not a lot of energy flowing around there, so we’ve got to make sure that we have to bring it ourselves,” UW running back Dare Ogunbowale said. “It’s a tough place to play just because you kind of have to supply your own juice. We’ll make sure we do that this year.”
Surprisingly, the Badgers haven’t won at Northwestern since 1999. Sure, the two teams have only met in the Chicago suburb four times since then thanks to conference realignment, but all the games have had an eerie feel to them. In 2009, as Wisconsin looked poised to drive down and kick the winning field goal, running back John Clay fumbled. Five years later, the Badgers came in big favorites and watched Melvin Gordon rumble for 259 yards but five turnovers led to a 20-14 defeat.
“I was five years old. I’m about to turn 22 on Christmas. That’s a long time ago,” cornerback Sojourn Shelton said of the gap between wins for the Badgers. “It just makes this game so much sweeter. Our goal is to go in there and get a “W”. When Saturday rolls around we’ll be amped up and trying to break that.”
It’s the longest current road losing streak in the conference for the Badgers, who have won at every other Big Ten stadium at least once since last pulling out a victory in Evanston. Some of that has had to do with the type of team Northwestern has in a particular year, but more often than not it’s Wisconsin just not showing up and playing well.
This year, with a vastly improved Wildcats squad that took Ohio State to the brink last week, the Badgers can’t afford to show up with anything less than its “A” game if it hopes to snap the Ryan Field losing streak.
In the past
The play was probably inconsequential for the future of either team. Wisconsin was likely going to go play in the Holiday Bowl anyway and Northwestern almost certainly was going to head to the Outback Bowl in Tampa. But the controversial ending to the two team’s matchup last November in Madison still draws strong reactions from fans, even if it doesn’t bother the player most directly affected — Jazz Peavy.
Let’s review. Trailing 13-7 late in the fourth quarter, Peavy caught what should have been a game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass. But the play went up for review, and despite the wide receiver taking almost four steps while in control of the ball, it was ruled he failed to maintain possession when pushed to the ground and the call was overturned. The Badgers were unable to score on either of the next three plays and lost the game.
But as Peavy tells Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he’s over it.
“I joke about it now,” he said. “I’ve move past it. … That night was a very short night. Got home. I talked to my parents and brothers. Then went to bed.
“I didn’t watch nothing else. Didn’t talk to no one else.
“I just slept on it.”
He can say he jokes about it now, but the play was fuel in the offseason, and he definitely let it drive him through workouts. But the thought in the back of his head wasn’t about whether he caught it or not. It was about the idea of finishing everything you do, be it the play, the quarter or the game. By finishing you take it out of the hands of the officials and anyone else. So far, that attitude seems to be working for the junior, as Peavy leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns.
The agony of that night last November was tough to deal with, but it’s turned into a positive and helped Peavy become a better player and a Wisconsin a better team. That’s something no one associated with the Badgers could have seen coming when the team left the Camp Randall Stadium turf thinking the officials had stolen a win from them.
Dayne’s record in danger
Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne set the NCAA FBS record for career rushing yards in 1999, ending up with 6,397. Many thought the number would never be touched considering so few players that put up big numbers stay to play four years of college football like Dayne. But the once seemingly untouchable record is in danger of being broken.
San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey sits just 656 yards shy of the record with four games to go in the regular season, and the possibility of playing two more with the Mountain West title game and an Aztecs bowl game very likely. At his current pace of 183 yards per game, he’ll smash Dayne’s mark and take over the top spot on the career rushing yards list.
But Dayne’s rushing total in the NCAA record book is different than his school record. That’s because the NCAA hasn’t always included postseason stats in their records. The organization didn’t start doing so until 2002, three years after Dayne finished his career at Wisconsin. If they were to include his four bowl games, his total would be 7,125 yards, and Pumphrey wouldn’t come close to touching him.
That leads many to wonder why the NCAA doesn’t go back and add bowl game stats in for every record. There are more than 40 bowls these days, but that hasn’t always been the case, and the stats for the older ones should be available.
It may be inconsequential to some, but guys like Dayne shouldn’t have to see their records disappear from the books because the NCAA all of a sudden decided they wanted to start keeping bowl game stats but not include anything before 2002. If the stats are available, they should be counted dating back as far as the NCAA possibly can.
New wide receiver on board
Wisconsin picked up a verbal commitment from DeSoto (Texas) High School wide receiver Emmett Perry on Monday night, just a day after the 3-star recruit was offered a scholarship. He becomes the 13th commitment in the class of 2017 for the Badgers and the second wide receiver.
— SSGSS Perry (@LilEmmetJr) November 1, 2016
Wisconsin has been a little hit or miss on its recruitment of wide receivers in recent cycles. It’s why guys like Jared Abbrederis and Alex Erickson — both former walk-ons — were such huge pieces to the team in the last five years.
But it appears that wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore has a knack for spotting them. He was the lead recruiter on current true freshmen A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus, and both have played a lot of snaps this year and look like the future at the position.
Perry is from the same high school that gave the Badgers an underrated prospect in inside linebacker Chris Orr, who started as a freshman and was a starter this season before a knee injury ended his year. If Perry gives Wisconsin anything close to what Orr has early in his career, fans should be overjoyed at his choice to join him.
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