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The Voice: Seniors have chance for special sign-off

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The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgSenior Day at Camp Randall Stadium is usually pretty good theatre. It is even better when a Big Ten trophy is on the line. Such is the case this Saturday when the Badgers host Northwestern.

Of course, the script calls for Penn State to beat Michigan State, and while we are at it, Michigan can go ahead and stun Ohio State. Then Wisconsin can take care of business against the Wildcats and earn the undisputed title, right?

Or, if the Spartans knock off the Nittany Lions, and Ohio State defeats Michigan, that would set the stage for a three-way tie, in which case everyone gets to wait another week to find out who is going to BCS bowls. Confused yet? Have a headache thinking of the possibilities?  

Let it go, and understand the Wildcats can be party crashers.

Pat Fitzgerald's team is 4-1 on the road, and that one setback was at Penn State. In that game, the Lions had to rally from a 21-point deficit to give Joe Paterno his 400th victory. Yes, quarterback Dan Persa is out with a torn Achilles tendon, but Northwestern no longer plays the role of conference doormat. The fact is the Cats are bowl eligible for the fourth-straight year.

Another fact is that the Cats have been known to give the Badgers fits.

Everybody in the stadium should know the situation when the game begins at 2:30 p.m. The other two games of interest around here begin at 11 a.m. No matter what happens in those early games, a Badgers victory means a trophy, which is just the lovely parting gift every senior dreams of receiving.

Throughout the week, Bret Bielema will field questions about this class. It is not the largest group, but it sure has been productive. Some were expected to be major contributors, while others have been more surprising.

There are those who figured Gabe Carimi had a chance to be a very good offensive lineman, and he is all that and more. But who knew that Scott Tolzien would become a finalist for the Unitas Golden Arm Award?

Media types have long known about John Moffitt's interviewing skills, but I am not sure many thought he would play himself into a very attractive NFL prospect. But he has, which shows he is more than just a pretty quote.

As always, every player has his own story. Some of the seniors had to deal with adjusting to a much different culture, while others whose hometowns are closer to Madison had to fight through the burden of high expectations.

I remember fans asking about Lance Kendricks, a player Rivals.com rated as a top-30 wide receiver out of high school. Why isn't he an instant star? Will he ever contribute? Obviously, the answer turned out to be yes, in ways beyond receptions. Bielema loves to talk about Kendricks' ability to block, and his eagerness to play on special teams. The tight end's work has resulted in Kendricks being a finalist for the Mackey Award.

Before the season started, I wrote about the interesting mix of captains on this year's team. From the outgoing Moffitt and Jay Valai, to the more reserved Kendricks and Tolzien. From the hometown Carimi to Culmer St. Jean from East Naples, Fla. They might have different personalities, but this group has helped lead the way to what could be a championship season.

Once again before the home finale, each senior will have his moment in the pregame introductions. Emotions will be high, and the atmosphere should be electric. It is just the way Senior Day should be.

Embrace the day. It is an opportunity that should make every Badger fan very thankful.

3 Comments

Thanks for reminding fans that the Cats are tough on the road, are bowl eligible, party crashers known to give the Badgers fits. Take care of this one game, let the rest fall as it may. Enjoy listening to the Badger broadcasts online with LePay and Lucas -- complete with several ads for tire stores and HoChunk Nation -- takes me home. Even with a picture feed through ESPN3, sound off, LePay and Lucas the better team. Thanks for another year and looking forward to the next game and whatever bowl comes the Badgers' way.

Good point on NW's excellent road record this year but for full disclosure the 4 wins were at Vanderbilt, Rice, Minnesota and Indiana. And 3 of the 4 wins were squeekers that they easily could have lost. Not quite as great as it seems at first blush, huh?

As an Ohio State Fan I can't believe The Badgers are not ranked at least 5th in the BCS standings, especially when you look at the other poll standings - What's up with that?

ON WISCONSIN