|No. 9 Badgers ignore history prepping for Mich.|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 September 2008 22:44|
With new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez bringing in his spread offense, Wisconsin (3-0) will see a different shade of maize and blue in its Big Ten conference opener in Ann Arbor on Saturday.
``The film from a year ago does us no good, really even just personnel-wise,'' Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. ``There's no carry-over.''
Maybe that's a good thing. Wisconsin needs a fresh start against a team they haven't beaten on the road since 1994 and are just 6-26 at Michigan Stadium.
``It's tough, but you can't let the environment get to you,'' said running back P.J. Hill, who'll be expected to carry the load if he can overcome nagging bruises after a hard shot to the back and legs in Wisconsin's win at Fresno State. ``The past is the past. We've got different players, different coaches and different talent now.''
What else is new?
Try the Badgers being a touchdown favorite in a series that's seen them only win 12 games in 61 tries. It's the first time Wisconsin has been ranked in the series and Michigan (1-2) hasn't since 1959.
At least Bielema knows what it's like to win at Michigan Stadium, even though he only managed to do it once - as a player when he was a defensive lineman at Iowa. In 1990, the Hawkeyes beat Michigan 24-23.
``It was a very special feeling, something that you can take with you for a long time,'' said Bielema, who failed to repeat the feat as an assistant coach at Iowa or as Wisconsin's head coach in 2006 in his first conference game.
Bielema's lack of success mirrors his team, and winning on the road in the conference hasn't come easy for Wisconsin. The Badgers know that if they want to reach a BCS bowl, they'll need to win away from Camp Randall Stadium.
``We lost all our conference games on the road last year. Period,'' said linebacker Jonathan Casillas even though the Badgers did win at 1-11 Minnesota. ``We have to win on the road now. If we want to be great at the end of the year, we have to be good on the road.''
Michigan has been rotating numerous personnel looking for the right fits in Rodriguez's system.
read offense, including elusive freshman Sam McGuffie.
``I watched film and I see the plays that the freshman kid had, I saw him breaking tackles,'' Casillas said. ``They're going to be better than what their record is, I know that for sure. I know they're going to be fired up and ready to go.''
One thing that won't be changing is the Badgers' offense, built on brute force, not misdirection. But quarterback Allan Evridge will have to make enough plays in the passing game to tight end Travis Beckum and the young receivers to keep Michigan's defense from creeping up to stop Hill.
``They're going to run the ball right at you,'' Rodriguez said. ``They do a great job in doing different things formation-wise, play action, bootleg, and using their skill guys.''
Wisconsin is adamant that it's Michigan that's the favorite with the history to defend.
The Badgers? They're playing the role of upstarts.
``Michigan's a great team, they've got so much tradition, a legacy there. They're the names of the Big Ten. People think of the Big Ten as Ohio State, Michigan. That's just what it is,'' Casillas said. ``We're just going there and basically trying to make our name present (in the discussion) as well.''
And with that attitude, Hill is confident that the Badgers won't underestimate Michigan.
m. We know they are going to give us a battle and we're going to meet that challenge.''