September 17

Mason: Bielema’s team finally has legit non-conference ‘W’

first_imgThe Wisconsin football team has been hearing for years that its non-conference schedules were soft. Taking on the likes of Temple, Buffalo and The Citadel in the past few seasons left little to be desired in the way of a challenge while leaving many questions unanswered as to what this program was truly capable of accomplishing.All questions should have been answered after Saturday night.No, the Badgers’ 13-10 win against No. 21 Fresno State on the road may not have been pretty. After taking a 10-0 halftime lead, Bret Bielema’s team managed just three second-half points. And when they were up by just a field goal late in the fourth quarter, I had that feeling in my gut that they were going to lose.But with an eight-yard run by Bill Rentmeester late in the fourth quarter that allowed the final seconds to tick off the clock, UW was somehow, some way able to hold on.The phrase “statement game” has become somewhat cliched in college football, but the truth of the matter was that Wisconsin indeed made a statement Saturday night — and a much-needed statement at that. They had finally answered the call to schedule a tough non-conference opponent, a matchup that was billed as the most important game in Bulldog Stadium history. And if you watched the game on ESPN2, the announcers reminded you again and again what the game meant for Fresno State head coach Pat Hill and his program.As important as it was for Fresno State, though, it may have been equally important for Wisconsin.In Bielema’s first season as head coach, he led UW to an 11-1 regular-season record, the same record that year as Michigan. But while the Wolverines earned a trip to the Rose Bowl, the Badgers settled for a berth in the Capital One Bowl.Wisconsin’s lone loss that season came to Michigan, while Lloyd Carr’s squad fell on the road to Ohio State for the only blemish on their schedule. However, UM had a convincing road win against then-No. 2 Notre Dame to hang their helmets on; UW’s toughest non-conference opponent was San Diego State, and they barely squeaked by them at home with a 14-0 victory.It’s tough to make an argument about the stronger schedule then. This year, though, Wisconsin will have the Fresno State victory to brag about when all the naysayers start pointing fingers.Had the Badgers lost to the Bulldogs, there would be little to no chance of a BCS bowl game, and they’d likely be headed back to Florida for the fifth year in a row. Instead, they now control their own destiny. Win out, and they’re a shoe-in for a trip to Pasadena.Of course, it’s far from clear sailing the rest of the way.Wisconsin’s first three Big Ten games will indeed be their toughest — at Michigan Sept. 27, and then back-to-back night games at Camp Randall against Ohio State and Penn State. But the Badgers won’t be facing the same caliber of a Wolverines team from 2006 (as is evident by the 35-17 beatdown Notre Dame put on them Saturday). As for the two night games? Well, just keep in mind Bielema hasn’t lost a home game in two-plus seasons at the helm.With the Buckeyes taking a shellacking at the hands of USC this weekend, UW’s matchup with OSU actually becomes much more significant for its postseason hopes. Now that Ohio State has that ugly loss on their resume (clearly their gamble to play a high-profile game didn’t pay off), it’s doubtful that Jim Tressel and company will be headed to their third national championship in as many years. Instead, they’ll just be hoping to smell roses once January hits.Then again, so will the Badgers. So circle Oct. 4 on your calendar when the Buckeyes come to town. And those of you selling your student tickets, be prepared to cash in.Tyler is a senior majoring in journalism. Don’t think Saturday’s win was as important as he did? Let him know at tmason@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

September 16

Beat writers split on Syracuse-Virginia Tech outcome

first_imgSyracuse’s return to Atlantic Coast Conference play started with a loss to Notre Dame. After a late layup and two free throws, a Joe Girard 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left wasn’t enough to erase the deficit. When Virginia Tech (10-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) comes to the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., SU (8-6, 1-2) looks to avoid a two-game losing streak.Here’s what our beat writers think will happen when the Orange face the Hokies.Nick Alvarez (12-2)HokeyVirginia Tech 77, Syracuse 68 Syracuse’s matchup against Notre Dame served as a preview for what SU can expect Tuesday night against Virginia Tech. The Fighting Irish relied on 15 3s and key interior play down the stretch. While the Hokies don’t have a John Mooney, they do have the best 3-point shooting team in the ACC (37.9%). Virginia Tech is also coming off its worst shooting performance of the season against Virginia (4-of-25) and I doubt they go cold for a second-straight outing. The Orange can always shoot their way back into a game, but their defense will be the deciding factor. It’ll start with stopping Landers Nolley II (43% from 3) and end with limiting the Hokies’ five other competent shooters. In the end, though, SU’s 2-3 zone will crack, fatigue will play a factor and Virginia Tech will pull away.  Michael McCleary (10-4)Do the Hokey Pokey and you…Syracuse 83, Virginia Tech 80AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOh, there will be tacos, alright. This will be a high-scoring game. Why? Three-point shooting battles usually are. That’s exactly what this game will be. Right now the Hokies are about 40 spots above the Orange in the NET Rankings. This is exactly the type of game the Orange need to win to revive their postseason hopes. The Notre Dame close finish showed that the Orange are on the brink of competing with fringe-ACC squads, and despite a ranking that says otherwise, I think Virginia Tech offers the Orange another shot at one. There’s a chance the Hokies don’t move the ball well enough or take enough chances to pace the Orange’s high-octane approach. Though it might be close, I’m thinking this close game falls to the way of the Orange. And if I’m right, it inches me closer to a victory in these predictions too.Josh Schafer (11-3)Turkey Day > Orange DayVirginia Tech 82 Syracuse 76The Hokies not only shoot the 3-pointer well (25th in the country) but also score 43% of their points from beyond the arc. In other words Virginia Tech is ready to shoot from one of the areas open in the 2-3 zone and that likely won’t bode well for Syracuse. On the flip side, the Hokies also allow a fair amount of 3-point shots and that could help Syracuse as well if the shots are falling. I’d expect this to be somewhat of similar matchup to Syracuse-Notre Dame only the Hokies don’t have John Mooney. So if Syracuse can score like they did on Saturday against the Fighting Irish, it’ll be close but we haven’t seen the Orange close out a tight game against a high-major opponent yet. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 7, 2020 at 4:52 pmlast_img read more

September 8

Nwakali Rejoins Olympic Eagles’ Camp for U-23 AFCON Tourney

first_imgMidfield maestro Kelechi Nwakali is the latest player to join the camp of Nigeria’s U23 boys, Olympic Eagles in Abuja as the team intensifies preparations ahead of the 3rd Africa U23 Cup of Nations holding in Egypt early next month.The former U17 World Cup –winning captain who plays for Spanish side SD Huesa was among the players that took part in Thursday’s morning training session at the National Stadium training pitch, supervised by Coach Imama Amapakabo and his assistants.The mercurial midfielder played an integral part in the qualifiers as the team dispatched Libya and Sudan to book a slot in the U23 AFCON finals. Kelechi Nwakali Nigeria’s U23 squad open their campaign against Cote d’Ivoire in the tournament on 9th November in Cairo before taking on Zambia on 12th November and South Africa on 15th November. All their matches will hold at the Al Salam Stadium.Winners, runners up and third placed teams will represent Africa in next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo, Japan.The fiesta is expected to last for two weeks, from 8-22 November, 2019.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more