Sportsball is often confusing with its many incarnations. Some have bats, some have cleats and some have ridiculously swaggy wooden planks that players beat around the sportsball with. Currently, our fine academic institution is best at football, a breed of sportsball known for shiny helmets and a ball that is slightly harder to shape into a cookie than most balls.

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Despite the seemingly definitive ways to describe football, there are many more rules and strategies involved in winning a game. With the season underway, it’s impractical to try to learn all of the facts now. It is, however, important to know how to act like one knows what’s going on when they’re unsure of the difference between a punter and a kicker.

First, it’s important to know what colors to cheer for. If the team wearing red and white all of a sudden is getting more points, that’s usually a good time to cheer. Now, this can get confusing if we are playing Nebraska, or Rutgers, or Indiana, or Maryland, or New Mexico or Western Kentucky. Luckily, we claim cardinal as our shade, and as long as one can sift through the minutiae of different shades of red each game, they’ll be golden.

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It is typically pretty clear when it is “First and Ten Wisconsin,” as most of the stadium erupts in this weird macarena-esque movement. However, understanding what “first and ten” means requires knowledge of football rules, which we are attempting to avoid. Just know that this means we get the ball for longer, so hold off any cheers of “De-fense” and holding up signs of fences.

Most of the time, when the ball is thrown and caught, that is a good sign and cheering is more than appropriate. From time to time, a player from the other team will catch the ball though. While often hard to distinguish which team the catcher is on, it’s usually a bad sign if they start running in the opposite direction. Frustrated grunting and booing are appropriate at these times.

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While three is the magic number, unlike Canadian football, there are four “downs” in NCAA play. When the jumbotron says fourth down, do not immediately throw a fit when the punter kicks the ball away. Now is the time to pull out those white picket “D-Fence” signs and start booing the other team. While tempting, do not confuse the defense with another type of sportsball called fencing, which actually involves swords instead of balls. Even though swords are pretty dang cool, they do not mix well with the tackling involved in football.

Over the course of an offensive drive (the drive does not involve the golf carts on the side of the field), it is likely that one player will run through the middle of the field while a lot of players from the other team block them. Most people who don’t know what’s going on will question this play and its place in helping the Badgers get all of the points, but trust a sportsball expert and know that it is ok and helps us get all of the points sometimes.

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Speaking of points, we can score 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, or 8 points at a time. This means if we are up 24 points with five minutes left in the game, one can begin zoning out and start loudly cheering regardless of what’s happening on the playing field. This also means if we are behind 6 points with 2 minutes left to play and we have the ball, pay attention to every little thing happening. Chances are we can pull out a win in this scenario, or be disappointed by a tragic case of the other team catching our ball.

As long as one follows these tips and wear their Badger best on game day, it’ll be smooth sailing even if their football literacy is not up to par (that’s a golf term, not a football term).