Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Fiammetta: Thoughts from Saturday, and a stance on ES-FU

Another Saturday, another Badgers blowout. What are we even supposed to say anymore?

As expected, Wisconsin faced barely any challenge in dispatching Indiana. A once-again-efficient Russell Wilson (12-for-17, 166 yards, one touchdown) and a once-again-dominant rushing attack (332 yards, four touchdowns, 7.9 yards per carry) pushed the Badgers to 6-0 and kept the good times rolling into next week’s crucial road test at Michigan State.

Sure, the 59-7 victory fell short of last year’s 83-20 trouncing of the Hoosiers, and third-string quarterback Nate Tice didn’t get a chance to replicate his wonderful 17-yard touchdown on a naked bootleg (heck, he didn’t even get in the game this time). But outside of allowing Indiana to run for 223 yards, Wisconsin did everything possible to maintain its profile in the national title picture – at this point, the Badgers’ standing in the Big Ten is essentially a moot point. UW remains No. 4 in the AP Top 25, USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Harris Poll, all of course boding well for the team’s No. 6 ranking in the first BCS Standings released Sunday night.


One alarming piece of news did present itself prior to kickoff Saturday, as the Badgers announced top wide receiver Nick Toon would not play after injuring his left foot two weeks prior against Nebraska. Toon had offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in that same foot and consequently missed all of spring camp and much of fall camp. However, head coach Bret Bielema said after the game Saturday that, prior to kickoff, there was a chance of Toon playing, and that he should be back in practice by Tuesday.

Offense’s trickeration causes some consternation

As scintillating as Montee Ball and James White were Saturday – we’re used to that anyway, right? – the principal highlight of the game belonged to Wilson.

On the first drive of the second quarter, Wisconsin took five plays to reach Indiana’s 25-yard line. On 2nd-and-6, the Badgers lined up with Ball as the lone running back behind Wilson, one receiver split out left and three bunched to the right. Wilson turned and pitched the football to Ball, who went right with it before stopping at the right hashmark and unfurling a high-arching lob to Wilson, who had streaked down the left side of the field completely unnoticed by the Hoosiers. Wilson comfortably ran under the ball, caught it and scampered to the endzone for one of the easiest touchdowns on a trick play you’ll ever see.

Of course, there was plenty to like about the play. Following the game, head coach Bret Bielema said that despite practicing the play all week and making nearly perfect throws, Ball’s pass in the game was the worst.

“That was actually probably Montee’s worst throw since we’ve been running that play,” Bielema said. “I said, just get it in the area. Russell’s a pretty good athlete, he’ll come down with it. Montee was actually running that pretty clearly; he got the jitters.”

Bielema also praised Wilson’s play-action ability, which he has already earned significant attention for through six games. The ball fake sold the play and had most of Indiana’s defense crashing to the right to stop the run – right in the face of Wisconsin’s blockers, most of which pushed right to allow Ball time to throw.

But of course, not everyone could enjoy it. At least one reporter and several critics on Twitter questioned Bielema after the game about the need to throw out the trick play against a Hoosiers squad that was so clearly overmatched, with very little shot at making the game competitive.

Naturally, Bielema defended the play call afterward. But aren’t those criticisms somewhat silly? If offensive coordinator Paul Chryst could draw that one up, isn’t it fair to say he could do it again when needed against, say, Michigan State or Illinois?

Also, for all the Badger fans desperately lobbying for Wilson as the current Heisman Trophy favorite – certainly a legitimate argument – the call to allow him to catch a pass almost certainly was a bit of tit-for-tat gamesmanship after seeing Stanford’s Andrew Luck make a spectacular one-handed catch against UCLA two weeks earlier.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen the university’s “RussellManiaXVI” Twitter campaign for Wilson skyrocket to nearly 3,800 followers, indicating a clear desire to push its quarterback’s candidacy as far as possible. Of course, having Wilson bring the first Heisman Trophy to Madison since Ron Dayne’s in 1999 bodes very well for Wisconsin and its much-stated desire to turn the corner into consistent national prominence. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.

Student Section to Barry & Bret: Nice try!

I’ve heard this week’s mini-controversy (can we even call it that?) regarding the popular “Eat shit! Fuck you!” student section chant pops up every few years, typically to a brief bit of fanfare and little result. Who knows what will happen this time around, but already, the university’s efforts have been foiled.

After sending an email Thursday to all student season-ticket holders entitled “A Request For UW Student Season Ticket Holders” that asked the student section to refrain from the vulgar ES-FU chant, the athletic department sent a “Follow-Up to UW Student Season Ticket Holders” the next day that promised a reward for refraining form the vulgarities. For every game the chant isn’t heard from the time gates open through the end of 5th Quarter, two students will be randomly selected to win transportation, three nights lodging and game tickets to whatever bowl game UW ends up playing in.

Sounds like a sweet deal to me … but what do I know? I was in the student section Saturday, and I’d say I heard the chant at least two or three times.

Now I’m certainly no “Save The Children!” advocate against profanity or anything like that, but each time hearing the chant was progressively disheartening. Trust me, I understand the rowdy appeal of everything the student section does. In my mind, it’s the most kickass student section in the nation. For real.

But don’t we want everyone else in the country to recognize that, and agree? For first-time visitors (and yes, many family-oriented ones, as well) witnessing some 15,000 students bellowing that kind of nastiness at each of other is absolutely a reputation-defining occurrence. The other knocks against the chant – it’s completely devoid of creativity, it forces fans to stop watching the game, etc. – are well known and perhaps tired, but they’re true.

Furthermore (and this was most discouraging to me Saturday) if the Athletic Department asks us to stop, why can’t we? Doing the chant anyway is a far cry from and a lame attempt at any sort of protest, and let’s be real – taking the chant away will hardly impact the game day atmosphere.

Any subsequent “outrage” you might feel? Tell me if it’s still there after they play “Build Me Up Buttercup, “Sweet Caroline,” or after “Jump Around.”

Mike is a senior majoring in journalism. Want to share your thoughts on Saturday’s game, or the ES-FU chant? Let Mike know on Twitter @mikefiammetta and be sure to follow @BHeraldSports for all the latest Badgers news.

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