Cavalcade of Whimsy: You Want Jim Harbaugh Fired? And Then Your Plan Is ...?

Cavalcade of Whimsy: You Want Jim Harbaugh Fired? And Then Your Plan Is ...?

College Football Cavalcade

Cavalcade of Whimsy: You Want Jim Harbaugh Fired? And Then Your Plan Is ...?


And how does one hold the ball for 41 minutes, allow nine completions, and lose?

Whether it’s Barry Alvarez, or Bret Bielema, or Gary Andersen, or now Paul Chryst, the Wisconsin program has been lather, rinse, repeat for over 25 years.

Massive offensive linemen, tremendous running backs, tough try-hard defensive types who fit the scheme, time of possession domination, limited penalties, own third down conversions, control the tempo, control the clock, impose the will and wear down defenses as the game goes on, and always, always win the …

Turnover margin.

How does Wisconsin lose games? 1) It plays the teams with ridiculous next-level talent that scoff at the Badger formula, and/or 2) someone figures out that you test the secondary with the deep ball, and keep testing it, and/or 3) it loses the turnover battle.

Yeah, duh, most teams aren’t so hot when they play great teams or give up the ball more than they take it away. But most teams aren’t among the nation’s leaders in the turnover stat, and most teams as good as Wisconsin aren’t as vulnerable when there’s a big mistake or three.

The 1993 breakthrough team under Alvarez that went 10-1-1 and took out UCLA in the Rose Bowl would’ve won at least a piece of the national championship except for one big problem in the one misfire of a game.

Back in the poll-and-bowl days of ’93, the great Charlie Ward Florida State team lost to Notre Dame, Notre Dame’s only loss was to Boston College, and an unbeaten Nebraska lost to the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin would’ve finished the season as the only unbeaten team except for five Darrell Bevell interceptions – along with 423 passing yards – in a 28-21 stunner against Minnesota.

Fast forward to the last few seasons under Chryst – and past a botched handoff to Ron Dayne that led to a Northwestern win in 1996, and Joel Stave’s issues in 2015, and on and on. Last year’s team had a whole host of problems, but in the five losses: -1 in turnover margin vs. BYU. -2 against Michigan, -2 against Penn State, -4 against Minnesota. Even against Northwestern, but with three killer turnovers.

This year? The Badgers owned the turnover battle for the first six games, and lost to Illinois partially because it was a -2. To be fair to Illinois, Wisconsin’s No. 1 defense had a nine-point lead with six minutes to play and couldn’t come up with a stop, but it was put in that position thanks to a Jonathan Taylor fumble and a bad Jack Coan interception.

Had Wisconsin been -1, it wins.

Now, the luster is totally off the Badger showdown against Ohio State. In that same way, be careful of …

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