Badgers, thanks for the great year

first_imgDear Wisconsin athletes,Thank you. This has truly been the greatest year to cover sports.I choose to attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 2001, based on its recent success in athletics and academics. The football team had just won the Rose Bowl, the men’s basketball team was in the Final Four, the women’s basketball team was in the NCAA tournament, the volleyball team made it to the NCAA Championship game, the crew and track teams were racking up national accolades, and the women’s swim team earned their then highest national finish at 11th.What sports fanatic wouldn’t want to come here after that?The success continued for the Badgers, and after my sophomore year, Madison received the great laurel of being named “the best college sports town,” by Sports Illustrated on Campus.The excitement was there and the accolade gave the Badger faithful another reason to start pre-gamin’ a little earlier. Two-story beer bongs began flowing like Gatorade at a marathon event.But then, things started to taper off. There were no national championship teams; there were no bowl victories or Frozen Four appearances. Season after season, UW sports kept entering preseason polls highly-ranked, and finishing well behind the hype.This year however, things started to accelerate, and that is why I’m calling it the greatest year to cover sports.Was it just me, or were pre-game celebrations the craziest they’ve ever been?For whatever the reason, we drank, we intimated rival fans and we jumped around, all to watch Badger athletics have one stellar fall season.The men’s cross country team had a perfect ending to a perfect season, after finishing first at the national championships for the first time in 15 years. The team also placed three runners in the top ten.The volleyball team also managed to pull off yet another successful season after they reached the Elite Eight at the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row, before losing to eventual champions Washington.On my first day on the job as an associate sports editor, the sports staff gathered and debated the future success of the football team. The team was not ranked and the sports staff had few expectations for the gridiron boys.Lo and behold, Brian Calhoun and John Stocco delivered an unbelievable offensive performance and UW finished with a 9-3 record, not to mention a very unexpected Capital One Bowl victory over Auburn, which surpassed all skeptics’ predictions from late August.The team, in my opinion, that had the best turnaround success was the women’s soccer team. After a heartbreaking mid-season that saw the team lose six out its last seven games, the Badgers picked up the pace and finished their season on a four-game win streak to advance to the Big Ten Tournament.There, the Badgers claimed the conference crown and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. It was an ideal ending to a rollercoaster season.The celebrations kept going into the spring semester.Like the football team, the men’s basketball team entered the season unranked. And despite losing three prominent reserves, the team finished an impressive fourth in the nation’s toughest conference.The success continued with the women’s swim team, which finished ninth nationally — its highest finish at the national championship, and the men’s indoor track team — who finished seventh nationally.The winter success ended with two national championships from both hockey teams, both of which have been well-documented.What a way to end the chilly winter months.Now spring is here, the weather is warm, and I swear I’ve seen Badger faithful already practicing their pre-game skills for the fall.Slip N’ Slides in 50 degree weather … priceless.Shannon is a super senior who graduates in one month. If for some reason, you want to talk about this column, send an e-mail to svancuren@badgerherald.comlast_img read more

Syracuse football opponent preview: What to know about Duke

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 15, 2019 at 7:29 pm Contact Andrew: | @A_E_Graham Syracuse (3-6, 0-5 Atlantic Coast) visits Durham, North Carolina for a 4 p.m. kickoff with conference foe Duke (4-5, 2-3). The Orange and Blue Devils have barely played in the history of the two programs, with three matchups ever and the last coming in 2014. If Syracuse is to make a bowl, Duke is the first of three teams — Louisville and Wake Forest — that SU must beat in order to become bowl eligible. Here’s everything to know about the Blue Devils, the Orange’s first stop on their must-win path to the postseason.Gambling Odds: As of Friday night, Duke is a 10.5-point favorite, with a total of 54, per Pinnacle.All-time series: Duke leads, 3-0.The last time they played: The Blue Devils triumphed over the Orange, 27-10, in the Carrier Dome in 2014. It was the two teams’ first meeting in the modern era — the first two came prior to World War II, in 1938-39 — and first as conference opponents. Syracuse, hamstrung by injury, played reserve quarterbacks Austin Wilson and Mitch Kimble and could only muster 10 points while Duke got two touchdowns from wideout Issac Blakeney and a punt return touchdown from Jamison Crowder. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Duke report: The Blue Devils feature dual-threat quarterback Quentin Harris at the helm of their offense. Syracuse defensive tackle Kenneth Ruff said film on Harris brought him flashbacks of Lamar Jackson in 2016. While Harris might not be Heisman-caliber, he’s certainly going to pose a problem for a Syracuse defense that’s prone to biting on play-fakes and getting fooled by run-pass options. To date, Harris is the Blue Devils second-leading rusher behind running back Deon Jackson. He leads the team with 224.4 yards per game and has had a hand in 20 of Duke’s 30 touchdowns this season.Currently, the Blue Devils are sliding, losers of four of their last five. Harris is the best bet to get back in the win column at home.How Syracuse wins: Limit Harris’ ability to run and establish your own run game. Coming off the idle week, a rested and coached up offensive line and some clever play calling could get SU’s running attack going against a relatively soft Blue Devils front. The Orange have barely run the ball consistently this season, but if they can use Moe Neal, Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard — Tommy DeVito, too? — effectively and get going down hill, they can hopefully open up the rest of the offense.The defense is, by far, Syracuse’s biggest question mark coming into this game after Dino Babers fired defensive coordinator Brian Ward. What will interim coordinator and former defensive ends coach Steve Stanard have cooked up? Players spoke all week of increased effort and Babers on Monday said he wanted to see “something different.” Whatever it might be from Stanard and the defense, it’ll likely center around erasing Harris’ ability to escape the pocket and make the defense pay on the ground. If they can contain him, it’ll force Duke to look outside the box to move the ball.Player to watch: Harris, redshirt senior quarterback, No. 18The Blue Devils successor to Daniel Jones — the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft — has put together an impressive campaign running and throwing the football. Besides accounting for two-third of Duke’s touchdowns, Harris has completed his passes at a 60.6% rate and rushed for more than 400 yards to date.  Commentslast_img read more