1957 Was a Very Special Year for the State of Wisconsin

Milwaukee Braves Lambeau logo

Back in 1957, in both the United States and in the state of Wisconsin, things were quite different than they are today. For example, a gallon of gas cost just 24 cents. You could buy a brand new car in a price range of $1,800 to $3,400. The average cost of a new home was around $20,000. You could rent an apartment for $90 per month.

And with Wisconsin being the dairy state in the country, products in that genre were quite inexpensive based on today’s prices. A dozen eggs cost just 55 cents. A gallon of milk cost just $1.00. Butter was just 75 cents per pound. American cheese cost around 55 cents per pound.

And seeing that Wisconsin also loves it’s beer, it’s important to know the beer prices at the time. You could go into a tavern and a have a glass of beer for just 10 cents. You also could buy a six-pack of beer for less than a dollar.

Yes, things were quite different in 1957 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States. The man who would follow Eisenhower as President, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book called Profiles in Courage.

I bring up Kennedy for two reasons.

One, JFK played a big part in the Green Bay Packers winning the 1961 NFL title, due to his friendship with Vince Lombardi.

Secondly, I was born on JFK’s birthday, which is May 29. I was born on that day in…you guessed it…1957.

That year was very special in the hearts of sports fans in Wisconsin.

In Green Bay, the Packers were going through a very tough time. The team was losing on a consistent basis and hadn’t had a winning season since 1947.

Plus, the NFL was seriously looking at moving the Packers out of Green Bay due to the antiquated stadium that the team was playing in, which was old City Stadium, which had been built in 1925 and was also used by Green Bay East High School. The capacity for the stadium was just 25,000.

That is why the Packers also started playing some of their games in Milwaukee starting in 1933, which had larger venues (State Fair Park, Marquette Stadium and Milwaukee County Stadium) for the Packers to utilize.

And unless the Packers built a new stadium in Green Bay, the team was likely going to move to Milwaukee permanently or to some other location.

But in April of 1956, in a 2-to-1 vote in a municipal referendum, a new stadium was financed by the way of a bond issue. The original cost of the new stadium was $960,000 and was to be shared equally by the Packers Corporation and the city of Green Bay.

City Stadium Dedication Program

The stadium was located in southwest Green Bay and surrounded on three sides by the village of Ashwaubenon. Work started on the stadium in February of 1957 and the stadium was christened as new City Stadium on September 29, 1957, as the Packers opened their season against the rival Chicago Bears and their founder and head coach George Halas.

It’s also important to note, that Halas himself campaigned for the new stadium in Green Bay before the vote in April of 1956.

The Packers beat da Bears at their new stadium 21-17 in front of 32,132 fans, as Vice President Richard Nixon was in attendance, along with NFL Commissioner Bert Bell.

But even with the new stadium, which would later be re-named Lambeau Field in 1965, in honor of one of the founders of the team and their first head coach, Curly Lambeau, the team went 3-9 in 1957.

In fact, after the season-opening win against the Bears, the Packers did not win again at home, either in the new stadium or in Milwaukee, where the Packers still played three home games per season.

One of the teams which visited new City Stadium were the New York Giants, who were the defending NFL champions in 1957. The offensive coordinator for the G-Men then was none other than Lombardi, and it was he who would take Green Bay back to greatness in 1959, when he was named head coach and general manager of the Packers.

In that case, Halas availed himself to Green Bay once again, as both he and Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns were staunch supporters of Lombardi getting the new head coaching gig in Green Bay.

Also in 1957, thanks to the scouting prowess of Jack Vainisi, the Packers drafted Paul Hornung out of Notre Dame with the first pick in the 1957 NFL draft. The “Golden Boy” had won the Heisman trophy with the Fighting Irish in 1956 and may have been the catalyst for Lombardi coming to Green Bay. That is certainly what legendary right guard Jerry Kramer believes.

Hornung played a big role in the success of the Lombardi Packers, that is for sure.

Back to new City Stadium, now Lambeau Field. The stadium has seen three NFL titles (1961, 1965 and 1967) won by the Packers over the years.

The 1967 NFL championship game, better known as the “Ice Bowl”, is considered among the best games in NFL history. Who can forget Bart Starr scoring the game-winning touchdown behind a classic block by Kramer with just 13 seconds remaining?

New City Stadium, now Lambeau Field, has seen many renovations over the years and is now considered the crown jewel in the NFL in terms of having a great game-time experience.

Between the actual stadium, the Atrium, the Packers Hall of Fame and the new Titletown district, the stadium has become a year-round place to visit. The current capacity of Lambeau Field is now 81,441.

Lambeau Field is now the longest continuously occupied stadium in the NFL by a large margin. The next closest is Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, which opened in 1972, which is 15 years later than when new City Stadium opened.

Lambeau Field in 2017

Besides Green Bay getting a new stadium in 1957, there was a lot of excitement at Milwaukee County Stadium, where the Milwaukee Braves played.

The city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin were very passionate about the Braves and had led MLB in attendance ever since the Braves moved to Milwaukee from Boston 1953. In fact, the Braves were No. 1 in attendance from 1953 through 1958.

  • 1953- 1,826,397
  • 1954- 2,131,388
  • 1955- 2,005,836
  • 1956- 2,046,331
  • 1957- 2,215,404
  • 1958- 1,971,101

As you can see by the figures above, the attendance in 1957 really blossomed. The Braves had finished just one game out from winning the National League pennant in 1956, as the Brooklyn Dodgers took the crown instead. The Braves were in first place for 126 days during the 1956 season and Milwaukee and Wisconsin knew that the Braves were ripe for winning the NL pennant and perhaps the World Series in 1957.

Everything did indeed fall into place for the Braves in 1957, as the team went 95-59 and won the National League pennant and advanced to the World Series to face the New York Yankees.

The Braves were managed by Fred Haney and their general manager was John Quinn.

1957 Milwaukee Braves

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves

The starting pitching was led by Warren Spahn, who had a 21-11 record and an ERA of 2.69. No. 21 also had 18 complete games. “Bullet” Bob Buhl was 18-7 and had an ERA of 2.74 and had 14 complete games. Lew Burdette was 17-9 and had an ERA of 3.72 and he also completed 14 games. No. 33 would later have one of the greatest World Series performances in history.

Saves were not considered to be a big part of the game back in 1957, but in the late innings, the Braves usually brought in Don McMahon, who was 2-3, had eight saves, finished 19 other games and had an ERA of 1.54. McMahon struck out 46 hitters in 46.1 innings.

In closing out games, the Braves also used Ernie Johnson, who was 7-3, had four saves, finished 16 other games and had an ERA of 3.54.

In terms of how the pitching was ranked in the National League, the Braves were second in ERA (3.47) and first in complete games (60).

The offense of the Braves was led by NL MVP Hank Aaron, as the right fielder hit 44, homers, drove in 132 runs and had a batting average of .322. Aaron was helped by slugging third baseman Eddie Mathews, who hit 32 homers, drove in 94 runs and hit .292.

Both Aaron and Mathews were National League All Stars in 1957 and they were joined by Spahn, Burdette, shortstop Johnny Logan (10-49-.273) and second baseman Red Schoendienst (6-32-.310).

Schoendienst came to the Braves via a trade earlier in the 1957 season, when Milwaukee acquired him from the New York Giants.

Other players chipped in offensively, as left fielder Wes Covington had 21 homers, 65 RBIs and a .284 average, while catcher Del Crandall had 15 homers, 46 RBIs and hit .253.

Because of a knee injury to Billy Bruton, time was split in center field, as both Bruton (5-30-.278) and Andy Pafko (8-27-.277) each saw playing time there.

At first base, Frank Torre (5-40-.272) and Joe Adcock (12-38-.287), platooned at the position.

One of the biggest things which helped the team in the second half of the 1957 was the call up of Bob “Hurricane” Hazel, who also received some playing time in the outfield as a left-handed hitter. Hazel hit seven homers and drove in 27 runs and hit .403 in 41 games.

The Braves were led in the World Series by a number of players, but especially the performance of Burdette. Burdette pitched 24 consecutive scoreless innings, won three games, pitched two shutouts (Game 5 and Game 7) and had an ERA of .067.

Lew Burdette in the 1957 World Series

Lew Burdette in the 1957 World Series

Aaron hit .393 in the World Series and hit three homers and drove in seven runs.

It took seven games for the Braves to beat the Yankees in the World Series.

  • Game 1- Yankees 3, Braves 1 at Yankee Stadium
  • Game 2- Braves 4, Yankees 2 at Yankee Stadium
  • Game 3- Yankees 12, Braves 3 at Milwaukee County Stadium
  • Game 4- Braves 7, Yankees 5 (10 innings) at Milwaukee County Stadium
  • Game 5- Braves 1, Yankees 0 at Milwaukee County Stadium
  • Game 6- Yankees 3, Braves 2 at Yankee Stadium
  • Game 7- Braves 5, Yankees 0 at Yankee Stadium

But when it was all said and done, the Braves had won their first World Series since 1914, when they were still in Boston.

The Braves and Yankees would face each other in the 1958 World Series again, but this time the Yankees won it, as they came back from a three games to one deficit and beat the Braves four games to three.

Burdette did go 20-10 and had an ERA of 291 in 1958, but he did not fare as well in the 1958 World Series, as he was 1-2 with an ERA of 5.64.

Aaron had another fabulous season in 1958, as Hammerin’ Hank hit 30 homers and drove in 95 runs, plus hit .326. No. 44 also hit .333 in the 1958 World Series, but didn’t hit a homer and only drove it two runs.

Still, the 1957 season was the crowning achievement for the Braves in Milwaukee. And even though the team left for Atlanta after the 1965 season, Milwaukee fans will never forget players like Aaron, Mathews, Spahn and Burdette.

In his time in Milwaukee as a Brave, Aaron hit 398 homers, drove in 1,305 runs and hit a cumulative .319.

Meanwhile, Mathews hit 452 homers, drove in 1,271 runs and hit a cumulative .277 in his 13 years in Milwaukee.

Mathews and Aaron

Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron

In his 13 years in Milwaukee, Spahn was 234-138, which included winning over 20 games per season nine times. No. 21 had a cumulative ERA of 2.88. Spahnie also had 232 complete games.

Burdette meanwhile, was 173-109 in 11 years in Milwaukee with an cumulative ERA of 3.28. The Nitro, West Virginia native also had 146 complete games in Beertown plus had 17 saves.

Warren Spahn II

Warren Spahn

But all in all, 1957 was truly a special year in Wisconsin, as the Packers had a stadium built for then which is now considered the ultimate shrine in the NFL, while the Braves did something that has yet to be achieved again in Milwaukee, although the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers came close. That is, winning a World Series title.

When people talk about classic cars, you always hear about the ’57 Chevy Bel-Air. When people in Wisconsin talk about memorable years in the history of sports in the Badger state, 1957 should be one of the years that should be right near the top.

I know 1957 will always be a special year for me, because that’s when my journey through life began.

How will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Fare vs. the Panthers

Aaron vs. Panthers

In a must win situation, just how will the 7-6 Green Bay Packers and the just cleared to play Aaron Rodgers fare against the 9-4 Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday?

Based on some historical data, I would say quite competitively.

First, both teams have a lot to play for on Sunday. The Packers need a win to keep their postseason hopes alive, most likely as a Wild Card, while the Panthers still can win the NFC South and perhaps get a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

The Panthers and the New Orleans Saints both are 9-4, but the Saints own the tiebreaker over the Panthers because of beating them head-to-head twice and also because of a better divisional record.

The Packers have a slim chance of winning the NFC North, but the Minnesota Vikings would have to lose all three of their remaining games (including one vs. the Packers at Lambeau), wile the Packers would have to win all three of their remaining games.

The Wild Card appears the most likely route for the Packers to get into the playoffs, as the Packers will hold a head-to head edge on the Panthers with a victory, plus have that same edge on both the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks and 7-6 Dallas Cowboys currently if all ended up with a similar record at season’s end.

Currently the Packers are seeded ninth in the NFC playoff picture, but a lot could change in three weeks. No matter what, the Packers have to run the table, just like they did in the 2016 season, to make the postseason.

Which takes me to the historical data.

In 2016, the Packers were 4-6 and needed to win all of the remaining six games to make the playoffs. Not only did they do that, but they also won the NFC North. Plus, the Packers also won two games in the postseason to advance to the NFC title game before they lost for the first time in two months.

So winning out in 2017 is definitely possible, plus the team is already on a two-game winning streak thanks to back-to-back overtime wins the past couple of weeks keyed by backup quarterback Brett Hundley.

But how will Rodgers perform coming back from a broken (right) collarbone and against a stout Carolina defense, which is ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense.

Again, let’s go back to historical information.

Rodgers has done this before, as he also broke his (left) collarbone in 2013. In the first game back after the injury, which happened to also be a do-or-die situation in Week 17 vs. the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, Rodgers performed very well overall.

In that particular game, a lot rode on the outcome. The winner would win the NFC North and the loser would go home.

Rodgers wasn’t sharp early in that game, but as the contest wore on, his performance improved. No play was bigger than the one that No. 12 made with just 46 seconds to go in the game and the Packers facing a fourth and eight situation from the Chicago 48-yard line and trailing 28-27.

Rodgers rolled left and eluded a sack from future teammate Julius Peppers, with some help from fullback John Kuhn on a chip-block, and he threw long to wide receiver Randall Cobb for a game-winning 48-yard touchdown pass with just 38 seconds to go.

Rodgers to Cobb in 2013 vs. da Bears

In the 33-28 victory, Rodgers threw for 318 yards and also two touchdown passes to go along with two interceptions. Rodgers had only a 85.2 passer rating in the game, but he was clutch when he needed to be, which also included running for a key first down on the game-winning drive.

In an ironic twist, after playing with the Packers from 2014 through 2016 (25 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions for touchdowns), Peppers now plays with the team that drafted him, the Panthers. And now once again, Peppers gets to face Rodgers in his first game back coming back from a broken collarbone.

Peppers is currently tied with Mario Addison in leading the Panthers in sacks so far in 2017 with 9.5. Carolina is tied for third in the league with 40 sacks.

Now let’s look at how Rodgers has fared against the Panthers. Overall in his career versus Carolina, Rodgers is 2-2, but has played very well. In those four games, Rodgers has thrown 12 touchdown passes compared to just two picks for 1,230 yards. That adds up to a 112.2 passer rating against the Panthers.

But let’s peel back the onion even more and look at two fairly recent games against the Panthers, when Rodgers faced up against Cam Newton at quarterback and a number of the defenders he will be facing on Sunday were playing.

The first occurred in 2014 at Lambeau Field in Week 7. In a 38-17 victory by the Packers, Rodgers threw three touchdown passes without a pick for 255 yards. His passer rating for the game was 154.5.

Then, in Week 9 of the 2015 season at Bank of America Stadium, the same year the Panthers were on their way to the Super Bowl, Rodgers threw four touchdown passes versus one interception for 369 yards (96.6 passer rating), as the Packers lost to the Panthers 37-29.

So, based on all that, what will happen when Rodgers and the Packers face the Panthers on Sunday?

Well, just the fact that Rodgers will be in the lineup makes the Packers much better, even though Hundley kept the playoff hopes of the Packers alive by going 3-4 in seven starts.

The new and improved running game behind Jamaal Williams the last five games (352 yards rushing and three touchdowns) makes the offense much more versatile.

The play-action pass should be very effective this Sunday, as should the screen pass, which has also been a nice weapon as of late for the Packers.

Speaking of the passing game, Williams has also been an asset there as well, as he’s had 18 receptions for 193 yards and two more scores in the past five games.

Since Rodgers has been out, Davante Adams has become the No. 1 receiver on the Packers with Hundley at quarterback, while both Cobb and Jordy Nelson have had secondary roles. With Rodgers under center now, I believe No. 12 will distribute the ball better to all of his receivers, which also includes the tight ends.

The offensive line of the Packers has been solid as of late, with Jason Spriggs playing okay at right tackle now that Bryan Bulaga is out for the season (torn ACL). The rest of the line remains intact with left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Lane Taylor, center Corey Linsley and right guard Jahri Evans doing their usual reliable work.

Before he broke his collarbone in Week 6 versus the Vikings, Rodgers was having another MVP-type season, as he had thrown 13 touchdown passes versus three picks for 1,385 yards (103.2 passer rating).

So, how do I see this game? The defense of the Packers definitely has holes, both in stopping the run and with injuries in the secondary. I believe that Newton and company will get their fair share of points against the D of the Pack, but I also think that Rodgers and company will do the same against a very good defense.

Will that mean a win for the Pack? That I can’t say for certain, but this could be the type of game that comes down to the final possession.

Just like the Week 17 game against da Bears in Chicago in 2013.

The History Between the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns

 

Jim Brown and Willie Davis 1965 NFL title gameWhen the 6-6 Green Bay Packers take on the 0-12 Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, this will be only the 19th time the two teams have met in the regular season. That is somewhat hard to believe, knowing that the Packers have been in the NFL since 1921 and the Browns first joined the league in 1950.

Yes, both teams have been in different conferences in the NFL up until the NFL-AFL merger and beyond, but it is still a bit surprising that the teams only have met 18 times up to this point.

It’s also a bit shocking that the two teams have only met once in the postseason as well, especially knowing how good both teams were in the 1960s. As it was, the only time the two teams met was in the 1965 NFL title game at Lambeau Field. More on that game later.

By the time the Browns came into the NFL in 1950, after first dominating the All-American Football Conference from 1946 through 1949 (four league titles), the Packers had fallen on hard times.

1950 was the year when founder and head coach Curly Lambeau left the Packers to coach the Chicago Cardinals.

The Packers had won six NFL titles (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939 and 1944) under Lambeau, but the things changed for the Packers once Don Hutson retired after the 1945 season and the All-American Football Conference was born in 1946.

That meant the Packers and the rest of the NFL were competing monetarily for draft picks and veterans with the AAFC.

That hurt the Packers financially, as did the fact that Lambeau purchased the Rockwood Lodge north of Green Bay for $25,000 for the Packers to practice at from 1946 to 1949. That purchase did not sit well with the members of the executive committee.

Nor did the team’s play, as the Packers went 3-9 in 1948 and then 2-10 in 1949.

Then the Rockwood Lodge burned down on January 24, 1950, and Lambeau ended up resigning a week later to coach the Chicago Cardinals (later the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals and now the Arizona Cardinals).

The 1950s turned out to be the worst decade in the history of the Packers, as the team was just 39-79-2.

Meanwhile, the new kid on the NFL block, the Browns, dominated the NFL for the most part in that decade. The Browns played in seven NFL title games and won three of them (1950, 1954 and 1955).

The Packers and Browns only met three times during the 1950s, and as one might expect, Cleveland dominated, winning all three times by a combined score of  92-17.

But the Browns did help the Packers quite a bit in 1959. That was when their founder and head coach Paul Brown, along with assistance from George Halas of the Chicago Bears, heartily endorsed New York Giants offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi to become the next head coach of the Packers.

The Packers were reeling then, as the team had sunk to a 1-10-1 record in 1958 under head coach Ray “Scooter” McLean. Thanks to the efforts of super scout Jack Vainisi of the Packers, Lombardi was indeed named the new head coach and general manager of the team in 1959.

Brown wasn’t done helping the Packers either. After Lombardi assumed his dual role in Green Bay, he and Brown made a number of trades.

The first three trades happened in 1959, when Lombardi first traded star wide receiver Billy Howton to the Browns for halfback Lew Carpenter and defensive end Bill Quinlan.

In his second trade, Lombardi parted with a fourth-round pick in the 1960 NFL draft for defensive tackle Henry Jordan.

In the third trade, Lombardi traded a fifth-round pick in the 1960 NFL draft for defensive back Bob Freeman.

In 1960, Lombardi and Brown made another deal. This time Lombardi parted with end A.D. Williams for defensive end Willie Davis.

Then in 1961, Lombardi traded a third-round pick in the 1962 NFL draft for quarterback John Roach, who served as Bart Starr’s backup for a couple of seasons until Zeke Bratkowski arrived on the scene.

Bottom line, it was quite a haul for Lombardi in those trades. He was able to get two future Hall of Famers in Jordan and Davis, plus acquired a four-year starter at defensive end in Quinlan. Carpenter was also a solid reserve and special teams player for five years with the Packers.

Jim Taylor vs. Browns in 1961

Lombardi and Brown only faced off against each other one time as head coaches, which was in 1961. The Packers dominated that game, by beating the Browns 49-17 at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

The 1961 season was the first that Lombardi and his Packers brought their first NFL championship to Titletown, with some assistance from President John F. Kennedy.

Lombardi and the Packers won another NFL title in 1962, while Brown was fired by owner Art Modell after that season.

New head coach Blanton Collier led the Browns to the 1964 NFL title, but did suffer a 28-21 loss to the Packers at Milwaukee County Stadium in the regular season.

Collier and his Browns made it to the 1965 NFL title game again, this time against Lombardi and his Packers at Lambeau Field. This would be the first appearance in a NFL title game for Green Bay since 1962.

The running game of the Packers had struggled almost the entire year in 1965, as the Packers finished 10th in the NFL in rushing. Still, the Packers could not be stopped toting the rock on this snowy and muddy day on the frozen tundra against the Browns.

Paul Hornung running the power sweep

Green Bay rushed for 204 yards behind Taylor and Hornung, as the Pack won 23-12. The power sweep was especially effective, as Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston kept opening big holes for the backs, mowing down defenders so the Packers gained big chunks of yardage on the ground.

Meanwhile, the defense of the Packers held the great Jim Brown to just 50 yards rushing.

Hornung scored the last touchdown of the game on one of those power sweeps. Kramer pulled left and first blocked the middle linebacker and then a cornerback as the “Golden Boy” found the end zone.

The 1965 season was the first of three straight NFL championships for the Packers. No team in the modern history of the NFL has ever duplicated that feat.

In 1966, the Packer won their second straight NFL title and also Super Bowl I. On their way to those achievements, the Packers beat the Browns 21-20 in the second game of the season at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in a stirring comeback.

The Browns, eager to repay the Packers after the 1965 NFL title game defeat, jumped to a 14-0 lead. But the Packers bounced back and had the ball down 20-14 late in the the game.

In the closing seconds of the game, and on fourth down, Starr hit Taylor with a nine-yard touchdown pass, as No. 31 avoided two tacklers. The result? A 21-20 victory by the Packers.

The Packers won their third straight NFL title in 1967, plus won Super Bowl II. During the regular season, the Packers played the Browns again, this time at Milwaukee County Stadium.

The game has become very memorable in Green Bay lore, due to the performance of rookie kick returner Travis Williams. Williams returned two kickoffs for touchdowns that day in the first quarter. The first was 87 yards and the second one was 85 yards. If that wasn’t enough, the “Roadrunner” rushed for 43 yards in just four carries, as the Packers blew out the Browns 55-7.

Another rookie on the Packers, quarterback Don Horn, got his first meaningful playing time that season in the fourth quarter.

Horn related a story to me about that game, which shows the class and dignity of his head coach.

“It’s late in the fourth quarter and I drove the team 50 or 60 yards to the Cleveland seven-yard line,” Horn said. “There’s two minutes to go and we were up at the time 55-7. So I’m think we are going to score. All of a sudden Forrest Gregg comes back into the game, as by then all the backups were in the game. So that was sort of odd.

“So I’m thinking to myself that Forrest brought in a play for me to run and we are going to score. But instead, Forrest grabs me and pulls me aside and says, ‘The old man told me to tell you NOT to score.’ So I ran the clock out just like Coach Lombardi wanted.

“After the game ended, Vince was one of the first guys to see me. He grabbed me and he said, ‘Donald (as he pointed over to head coach Blanton Collier of the Browns), you see that gentleman over there? 55 is bad enough. I’m not going put 62 on him. That man is a gentleman. Do you understand, son?’ And I replied, yes sir. Lombardi then says, ‘Okay. Good.’

From 1968 through 1989, the Packers only made two playoff appearances (1972 and 1982 and had one divisional title (1972), while the Browns were regulars in the postseason, with 11 appearances (1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989), won eight divisional titles (1968, 1969, 1971, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989) and played in four conference title games (1968, 1969, 1988 and 1989).

In that period, the Packers and Browns met five times. The Packers surprisingly beat the Browns in three of those games.

Since 1989, the Browns have only made two postseason appearances (1994 and 2002), plus have seen the original franchise move to Baltimore and become the Ravens after the 1995 season.

Since 1993, the Packers have become a regular in the NFL postseason, as the team has played in 39 playoff games since that year, winning 21 of those games. Green Bay has also won two Super Bowls, one after the 1996 season, and one after the 2010 season.

The Browns have yet to play in one Super Bowl.

The Packers met the Browns in Cleveland in 1995 after Modell announced that the team was moving to Baltimore. Green Bay won that contest 31-20.

Brett vs. the Browns in 1995

The Browns got a new team in Cleveland in 1999, but except for a few bright moments like the one and only postseason appearance in 2004, the team has been one of the NFL’s worst teams since then.

In my opinion, a lot of that has come from the terrible ownership which has controlled the Browns since their new inception. Both the Lerner family and now current owner Jimmy Haslam have sunk the organization to depths that the great fans in Cleveland certainly don’t deserve.

It’s been especially brutal under Haslam’s “leadership”, as the team has gone 20-72 since he became owner in 2012, which includes this season’s mark of 0-12.

It’s also important to note that Mike Holmgren played a large role with both teams over the years.

While Holmgren coached the Packers from 1992 thorough 1998 (75-37 record), the team went to the postseason six times, won three divisional titles, played in three NFC title games and won twice and played in two Super Bowls and won once (Super Bowl XXXI).

After coaching the Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, the Browns named Holmgren as their team president in 2009. Under his guidance, the Browns did not fare very well, as the team went 19-45.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of the Browns over the past quarter century, both before the team moved and after the new team arrived, is the play at the quarterback position, not to mention the game of musical chairs the Browns have played at quarterback.

From 1992 through 1995, the Browns had seven different starting quarterbacks in that period, led by Vinny Testaverde with 31 starts and Bernie Kosar with 14 starts.

Since 1999, the Browns have had 30 different starting quarterbacks.

Compare that with the Packers, who have seen Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers get the bulk of their starts over the past 25 years. Favre started 253 straight regular season games for the Packers from 1992 through 2007.

Rodgers has started in 141 games since then. In the games when Rodgers was injured (concussion or broken collarbone) or rested, the Packers have started only four other quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Brett Hundley).

The Browns overall regular season record over that time is 94-206. The Packers overall regular season record over that time is 260-151-1.

The Packers and Browns have met four times in the 21st century, with the Packers winning three of those four games.

That puts the Packers in the lead in all-time series with an 11-7 advantage.

It still seems very strange that two teams with as rich a history as both the Packers and Browns have had throughout their time in the NFL, have only met 18 times in the regular season and just once in the postseason.

The 2017 Packers are trying to get back to the postseason for the ninth straight time, while the Browns would love to just sniff the postseason at this point.

The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Bucs are Going Back in Time

Bucs vs. Packers

It’s been 23 years since the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced each other with both teams having a losing record. The last time this occurred was in Week 4 of the 1994 NFL season, when the 1-2 Bucs traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the also 1-2 Packers.

That was when the Packers and Bucs resided in the same division, the NFC Central. In fact, the two teams were in the same division for 25 years from 1977 through 2001. Now the Packers play in the NFC North, while the Bucs play in the NFC South.

The 2017 season has been a very disappointing one for both the 4-7 Bucs and the 5-6 Packers, who will play this Sunday at Lambeau Field. Both teams have been ravaged by injuries to their offensive lines, plus both squads have seen their talented starting quarterbacks miss time due to injuries. Those are just a couple reasons why both teams are under .500 this season.

Jameis Winston (shoulder) will return as starting quarterback for the Bucs this Sunday after missing the last three weeks, while Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone in Week 6) might return to practice on Saturday. The earliest Rodgers can return to the lineup is December 17 (Week 15), as he is currently on injured reserve.

But looking back around 30 years or so ago, both the Bucs and the Packers were almost always under .500. As a matter of fact, when ESPN was doing their NFL Primetime show back in the late 80s, Chris Berman and the late Pete Axthelm coined the phrase “the Bay of Pigs”, talking about any matchup between the Packers and the Buccaneers.  The actual Bay of Pigs episode happened very early in the John F. Kennedy administration in April, 1961, when an attempted invasion of Cuba was woefully executed, mostly due to poor CIA planning.

Like the attempted invasion of Cuba in 1961, both the Packers and Bucs in the late 80s were also woeful.  It started for the Packers in 1986, when head coach Forrest Gregg gutted the team to try and bring some youth to the squad.  The Pack suffered losing seasons of 4-12, 5-9-1 and 4-12 from 1986-1988.  It was in 1988 Lindy Infante started his head coaching regime.

Infante, with the help of quarterback Don Majkowski, led the Packers to a 10-6 record in 1989.  However, the success was short lived as the team was 6-10 in 1990 and 4-12 in 1991.  Infante lost his job after the 1991 season when Ron Wolf arrived on the scene.

The Packers stopped their free fall in 1992, when head coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre both came to Green Bay via Wolf.  Since then, except for two years (2005 and 2008), the Packers have been .500 or better every year.

Of course, the team has also won two Super Bowls, one after the 1996 season, and one after the 2010 season.  The Packers have also been in 39 playoff games since 1993, winning 21 of those games.

Current head coach Mike McCarthy has a career 119-67-1 regular season record in 11-plus years in Green Bay. He also has a 10-8 record in the playoffs which includes the win in Super Bowl XLV. The Packers have also been to the postseason eight straight years under McCarthy.

The Bucs had success early in their franchise history winning the NFC Central in both 1979 and 1981 under head coach John McKay.  In fact, the 1979 team made the NFC title game.  Even with that success, people always talked about the 0-26 start when the franchise became an expansion team in 1976, when Wolf was then the general manager of the Bucs. Wolf remained in that role through the 1978 season.

But after the successes in 1979 and 1981, things got progressively worse for the Bucs beginning in 1983, when the team went 2-14.

Buc vs. Packers in 1988

The Bucs suffered 12 straight double digit losing seasons from 1983 until 1994, and didn’t have a winning record until 1997, when the team went 10-6.  The biggest reason for the turnaround was head coach Tony Dungy.

Dungy coached from 1996-2001 and led the Bucs to a 54-42 record overall, including the 1999 NFC Central crown and appearance in the NFC title game that year, but the playoffs overall were Dungy’s Achilles heel in Tampa.

The Bucs couldn’t seem to get over the hump under Dungy during the playoffs, and the Glazer family finally made a coaching change in 2002.  Former Packer assistant coach Jon Gruden took over as head coach in 2002, and sure enough, the team won it all, as the Bucs beat Gruden’s former team, the Oakland Raiders, in the Super Bowl that year.

But over the next six years, the Bucs were very inconsistent under Gruden. The team only made the postseason twice, never won a playoff game and were under .500 in three of those seasons.

That it when the Glazer family decided to make another coaching change and move on from Gruden. Since then, the Glazer family has been busy making changes at head coach.

Raheem Morris was hired to replace Gruden in 2009 and he lasted through the 2011 season before he was fired. The record of the Bucs during that time was 17-31, although the team was 10-6 in 2010 and narrowly missed the playoffs.

Greg Schiano took over for Morris in 2012 and lasted all of two seasons, as the Bucs went 11-21 during Schiano’s short regime.

In 2014, the Bucs then brought back Lovie Smith, who had been linebackers coach of the Bucs back in the Dungy era and also had experienced nice success as a head coach with the Chicago Bears (81-63 and three playoff appearances).

Like the Schiano era, the Smith era lasted only two seasons, as the Bucs went 8-24 overall in 2014 and 2015.

In 2016, the Bucs made their offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter the head coach to replace Smith. Koetter remains in that position to this day, although there has been some speculation about the Bucs possibly bringing back Gruden depending how Tampa Bay finishes the 2017 season. In the 27 games that Koetter has coached the Bucs, the team has gone 13-14.

Going into the 2017 season, both the Packers and Bucs had high expectations about how their teams would do.

The Packers won six straight games to finish the 2016 season and win the NFC North, plus won two more playoff games to advance to the NFC title game, before they were soundly beaten by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bucs were 9-7 last season and looked to be a team on the upswing heading into the 2017 season.

A lot of the optimism for the two teams came from the play of their quarterbacks last season.

Rodgers had another fantastic season in 2016, as he threw 40 touchdown passes versus just seven picks for 4,428 yards. His passer rating was 104.2, which is almost identical to his career passer rating of 104.1, which is the best of all time.

on November 20,2011 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Winston improved on his rookie stats from 2015 in almost every category like completion percentage (60.8), touchdown passes (28) yards passing (4,090) and passer rating (86.1). That being said, Winston did throw three more interceptions than he did his rookie year, as he threw 18 last season.

Rodgers did his part while he was in the lineup this season, as the Packers went 4-1 to start the 2017 campaign. But in game 6 against the Minnesota Vikings, he broke his collarbone on a tackle by Anthony Barr. Up until that point, Rodgers was having a typical season, as he had thrown 13 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions. No. 12’s passer rating was again close to his career average, as it was 103.2.

In the eight games that Winston started for the Bucs this year, the team went 2-6. In those eight games, Winston threw 10 touchdown passes versus six picks for 1,920 yards. No. 3’s passer rating was 87.3.

Since Rodgers has been injured, the Packers have gone 1-5. There have been some obvious growing pains with Brett Hundley playing quarterback for the team in place of Rodgers, but Hundley did have the best game of his career in last Sunday’s night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, as he threw three touchdown passes without a pick for 245 yards. Hundley’s passer rating in that game was 134.3.

Coincidentally, Hundley was part of the same draft class with Winston in 2015. While Winston (Florida State) was the first overall pick of that draft by the Bucs, Hundley (UCLA) lasted until the fifth round when the Packers traded up to select him.

In the three games that Winston has missed, the Bucs have gone 2-1 behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw three touchdown passes compared to just one pick in those three games.

But in the game on Sunday against the Pack, Winston will be back under center, but he’ll also be missing two of his best offensive linemen, with both center Ali Marpet and right tackle Demar Dotson being placed on injured reserve this past week.

The Packers will continue to start Hundley until at least Week 15, when Rodgers could be coming back. But that might not happen unless the Packers win the next two games against the Bucs on Sunday and then the Browns next week in Cleveland. Two wins would put Green Bay 7-6 and still alive for a spot in the playoffs. But if the Packers lose against the Bucs or Browns, or both, the team might decide to just shut Rodgers down for the season and not risk further injury.

Besides the shoulder injury Winston suffered, he is currently being investigated by the NFL regarding an accusation of sexual misconduct by an Uber driver back in March of 2016.

If all that wasn’t bad enough for the Bucs, they also play in the toughest division in the NFL right now. The New Orleans Saints are currently 8-3 and on top of the NFC South, while the Carolina Panthers are also 8-3 and the Atlanta Falcons are 7-4.

The Packers are also in a tough division, as the Vikings are 9-2, while the Detroit Lions are 6-5.

The bottom line is that the odds don’t look very good for the Packers and Bucs to reach the goals that each team set before the season. To even have a chance to make the playoffs in 2017, each team would have to win the last five games of the regular season.

That obviously won’t have a chance to happen for one of the two teams after Sunday’s game at Lambeau.

Still, even with the  disappointment so far for each team in 2017, it’s still a hell of a lot better than the “Bay of Pigs” era back in the late 1980s.

 

 

A Scout’s Take on the B1G Title Game Between Ohio State and Wisconsin

Buckeyes vs. Badgers

The Wisconsin Badgers completed their unblemished 2017 campaign by defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 31-0 last Saturday. The victory put the Badgers at 12-0, and it also made them the only undefeated team in a Power 5 conference.

That’s because both Miami (FL) and Alabama lost for the first time last weekend. And because of those two losses, the Badgers have now moved in the top four in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The Badgers are now ranked No. 4, behind only the 11-1 Clemson Tigers at No. 1, the 10-2 Auburn Tigers at No. 2 and the 11-1 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 3. The 11-1 Crimson Tide fell to No. 5 in the CFP rankings, while the 10-1 Hurricanes fell to No. 7. The 11-1 Georgia Bulldogs are ranked No. 6.

The No. 4 ranking in the CFP also means that if the Badgers can defeat No. 8 Ohio State in the B1G Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, they will most definitely be in the College Football Playoff.

In terms of the matchup between the B1G West champion Badgers and the 10-2 and B1G East champion Buckeyes, I wanted to get a read on that B1G title game by talking to one of the best in the business, NFL scout Chris Landry. I was able to chat again with Landry on on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show on Wednesday.

When I talked to Landry, I first mentioned how the Badgers were able to get by both Iowa (who beat Ohio State by 31 points) and Michigan, plus also how stout the Wisconsin defense has been the past three games (only 10 points allowed).

“Well, I have been impressed with Wisconsin’s consistency,” Landry said. “I’ve been impressed with their defense and I think Jim Leonhard has done a good job. Those guys are well positioned  and they do a great job with their run fits. And they are very underrated athletically. I think they are very quick and they do a really good job with their pressures.

“Offensively, I do have concerns. They turn the football over too much. It’s not come back to hurt them. They have been able to overcome it. I think Ohio State has to play their best game to beat Wisconsin. I think Wisconsin has a really good chance. I think Ohio State overall has better personnel, but Ohio State has not played consistent football.

“I know that Ohio State is certainly going to be motivated. They have a lot at stake with the Big 10 championship, so that’s not going to be the issue. Maybe that had something to do with the Iowa game. Plus, the injuries on the offensive line and at linebacker made that game a disaster. But this is no chance of them overlooking it.

“But I still say that this Ohio State team has been woefully inconsistent. I don’t think it’s an attitude or an effort, I think it’s a byproduct of some flaws. Some flaws in their offense. Their inability to to consistently perform in the passing game is a problem.

“So, I think if Wisconsin plays a clean game on offense and doesn’t turn the football over, I think their chances are really good and I think they win it. But this is not the game where you want to turn the football over four times. Because that will get you beat. And that will end a magical season for them in quick fashion.”

The matchup between the Ohio State offense the Wisconsin defense should be a key factor in the game.

The Buckeyes are ranked fourth in the FBS in total offense (529.8 yards per game), fifth in scoring offense (43.8 points per game), third in first downs (325) and are 13th in rushing offense (250.3 yards per game).

Ohio State is led offensively by senior quarterback J.T. Barrett, who was named first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media. Barrett has thrown 33 touchdown passes versus just seven interceptions for 2,728 yards. Barrett has also rushed for 672 yards and nine more scores.

Barrett also won the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award in the Big Ten.

J.T. Barrett

Two other Buckeyes were named first-team All-Big Ten on offense by both the coaches and the media. The players are senior center Billy Price and senior offensive tackle Jamarco Jones.

Price was also named the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award in the Big Ten.

Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins was named second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media. Dobbins has rushed for 1,190 yards (7.3 average) and seven touchdowns. Dobbins has also caught 20 passes for 130 yards and one more score.

Sophomore guard Michael Jordan was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media.  Third-team All-Big Ten recognition by the coaches went to junior wide receiver Parris Campbell and junior tackle Isaiah Prince.

Honorable Mention recognition by the coaches went to senior tight end Marcus Baugh, sophomore wide receiver K.J. Hill and sophomore running back Mike Weber.

Meanwhile, the Badgers are ranked first in total defense (236.9 yards per game), first in rushing defense (80.5 yards per game), second in scoring defense (12 points per game), tied for eighth in team sacks (3.25 per game), tied for fifth in red zone defense (.700), tied for 15th in interceptions (15) and tied for second in interceptions returned for touchdowns (4).

Junior linebacker T.J. Edwards and junior cornerback Nick Nelson were both named first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media. Senior safety D’Cota Dixon was also named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches.

The Badgers also had three players named to the second-team All-Big Ten named by the coaches. The players were senior defensive lineman Alec James, senior defensive lineman Conor Sheehy and senior linebacker Garret Dooley.

Senior cornerback Derrick Tindal was named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches, while junior linebacker Ryan Connelly, senior safety Joe Ferguson, senior linebacker Leon Jacobs, senior safety Natrell Jamerson and junior defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu were all named Honorable Mention by the coaches.

Connelly, Ferguson, Jacobs, Jamerson, Sagapolu and Tindal were also named Honorable Mention by the media.

Obviously something has to give between the explosive Buckeye offense and the stingy Badger defense.

On the offensive side of the ball, Wisconsin does not have the the firepower that Ohio State has there, but the Badgers can still be very effective. Although they are only ranked 42nd in total offense, the Badgers are very good at running the football and can be sneaky good passing the football.

The Badgers are ranked 18th in rushing offense (243.3 yards per game) and second in time of possession (35 minutes per game).

The running game is led by freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for 1,806 yards (7.0 average) and 13 touchdowns. Taylor is just 116 yards back of Adrian Peterson’s all-time freshman rushing record.

Taylor was also named first-team All-Big Ten at running back by both the coaches and the media. In addition to that, Taylor won the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year award in the Big Ten.

It’s expected that Taylor will get an invite to New York City for the Heisman Trophy award ceremony.

Jonathan Taylor vs. Michigan

Sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook of the Badgers has thrown too many ill-advised interceptions in 2017, but against Minnesota, he looked very sharp, as he threw three touchdown passes without throwing a pick.

For the season, Hornibrook has thrown 21 touchdowns passes versus 13 interceptions for 2,157yards. Even with an uneven season at times, Hornibrook is 14th in the country in passing efficiency with a mark of 155.9.

Hornibrook was named Honorable Mention Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

Hornibrook likes going to senior tight end Troy Fumagalli, who has 38 receptions for 478 yards and four touchdowns.  Fumagalli was named first-team All-Big 10 by the coaches and second-team All-Big Ten by the media. In addition to that, Fumagalli won the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award in the Big Ten.

Besides, Fumagalli, Hornibrook also has three young wide receivers that he is starting to utilize more, especially after sophomore Quintez Cephus was lost for the season with a leg injury.

Cephus (30 catches for 501 yards and six touchdowns) was having a great season before his injury and was also named Honorable Mention Big Ten by the coaches and the media.

Sophomore A.J. Taylor, freshman Danny Davis III and freshman Kendric Pryor have all made big plays for the Badgers over the past three weeks in the passing game, plus Pryor has been a threat in the running game as well with two touchdown runs via a reverse.

Like it always has, at least since Barry Alvarez arrived in Madison, the offense starts with the impressive play of the huge offensive line that the Badgers always seem to have.

Four of the offensive linemen were honored by their play this season. Named to both the coaches and media’s first-team All-Big Ten squad were junior guard Beau Benzschawel and junior offensive tackle Michael Deiter.

Named to both the coaches and media’s second-team All-Big Ten team was sophomore offensive tackle Dave Edwards, while freshman center Tyler Biadasz was named third-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

The offense of the Badgers will be going up against an Ohio State defense which is ranked eighth in total defense (291.8 yards per game) in the country. The Buckeyes are ranked 13th in rushing defense (112.8 yards per game) and 15th in passing defense (179 yards per game).

The Buckeyes are also tied for 19th in team sacks, as they average 2.83 per game.

The defense of the Buckeyes is led by sophomore defensive lineman Nick Bosa and senior defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis, who were both named first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

Fellow defensive lineman, junior Sam Hubbard, was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and the media, while junior defensive back Denzel Ward was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and first-team All-Big Ten by the media.

Sophomore defensive lineman Dre’mont Jones was named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches. Sophomore safety Jordan Fuller was named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches, while senior safety Damon Webb was named third-team All-Big Ten by the media.

Several Buckeyes were given Honorable Mention Big Ten status by the coaches, as junior linebacker Jerome Baker, senior defensive end Jalyn Holmes, senior linebacker Chris Worley and Webb were put on that team.

Baker, Fuller, Holmes, Jones and Worley were named Honorable Mention by the media. Sophomore cornerback Damon Arnette joined them as well.

The special teams play of each team received recognition as well. Junior kicker Sean Nuernberger (14-of-17 in field goals), sophomore punter Drue Chrisman and Campbell were named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches.

Nuernberger and Chrisman received the same honor by the coaches, while Campbell was named to the second team.

Senior kick Rafael Gaglianone (12-of-14 in field goals) was named second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

In terms of the two head coaches in this game, it doesn’t get much better than the two who will be competing against each other in this title game.

Urban Meyer has an overall coaching record of 175-31 and has won three national championships, two with the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2008 and one with the Buckeyes in 2014. Meyer has put together a 71-8 record since he arrived in Columbus.

Paul Chryst vs. Ohio State

Paul Chryst of the Badgers has a 33-6 record since he took over the head coaching reins in 2015. Wisconsin has also won two straight bowl games (Holiday and Cotton) under Chryst.

In leading the Badgers to a 12-0 mark in 2017, Chryst won both the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches vote) and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote) in the Big Ten.

In terms of the title game between the Buckeyes and Badgers, I certainly agree with Landry that if the Badgers can play a complete game without any turnovers, they should be the victors and move on to the College Football Playoff.

Can the Green Bay Packers Upset the Pittsburgh Steelers on SNF?

Packers vs. Steelers

Going into Sunday night’s game between the 5-5 Green Bay Packers and the 8-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas has the visiting team from Titletown as 14 point underdogs.

And based on NFL statistical information, the wise guys in Vegas may have the line just about right. It would be a huge upset if the Packers could topple the Steelers on the road.

First off, the Packers are reeling and the Steelers are surging.

The play of quarterback Brett Hundley was just dreadful against the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field last Sunday, as the home crowd showered Hundley and the offense with boos on more than one occasion.

Hundley threw for 239 yards, but also tossed three picks without a touchdown pass, as the Packers were shut out by the Ravens 23-0. No. 7’s passer rating for the game was an abysmal 43.8.

And this performance came a week after Hundley had the best game of his NFL career against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, as he completed 72 percent of his passes and threw one TD pass without an interception and had a passer rating of 110.8.

So which Hundley will we see on Sunday night? That is a very interesting question. You know that head coach Mike McCarthy wants to see Hundley perform well in his hometown. But will he?

For the season, Hundley has definitely had his ups and downs since replacing an injured Aaron Rodgers in Week 6, after No. 12 suffered a broken collarbone. Overall this season, Hundley has thrown two TD passes versus seven interceptions for 940 yards. That adds up to a mediocre passer rating of 63.6.

It’s no wonder that the Packers are 1-3 in the games that Hundley has  started at quarterback.

Contrast that to Rodgers, who led the Packers to a 4-1 record before he was injured against the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth game of the season. No. 12 had thrown 13 TD passes versus just three picks for 1,385 yards. The passer rating for Rodgers was a very robust 103.2.

Now I realize that it’s very difficult to replace a legend like Rodgers and even come close to his production, but there has to be a middle ground somewhere between the way Hundley has played and the way Rodgers plays. That is where the Packers need Hundley to be.

Have a passer rating of 83.5 or so. Throw at least as many TD passes as you throw interceptions. That will at least give the team a fighting chance to win, depending on how the defense and special teams performs.

So what are the odds that Hundley will do well on Sunday night against the Steelers on the road? Not good. The Steelers are ranked third in the NFL in passing defense. The opposing QBs have a passer rating of 74.2 when they face the Steelers. Plus, they have only allowed nine TD passes versus 12 interceptions.

Mike McCarthy and Brett Hundley

Add to that, the Steelers are second in the NFL with 34 sacks. One of the pass rushers for the Steelers is rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who the Packers could have drafted at pick No. 29 in the 2017 NFL draft. But the Packers decided to trade back instead. The Steelers then took Watt with pick No. 30.

Hundley has not shown much pocket presence as a passer, plus does not see open receivers at times and holds the ball too long. Those three variables have led to Hundley being sacked 17 times already this season in four-plus games.

As a whole, the defense of the Steelers is very good, as they are ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense. Besides defensing the pass well, Pittsburgh also plays the run tough, as they are ranked eighth (97.6 yards per game) in rushing defense. This is a key factor, as the Packers need to have some balance on offense and Jamaal Williams and company have to be productive against the Steel Curtain.

Getting back to McCarthy, going back to his hometown is going to be quite a sentimental experience for the head coach of the Packers. McCarthy is still having trouble dealing with the passing of his younger brother Joe, who died of a heart attack playing racquetball on January 21, 2015 at the age of 47.  Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com wrote a very nice story about that emotional homecoming.

Can McCarthy get his team to play an exceptional game on Sunday night versus the Steelers as big underdogs, especially knowing that he wants to honor his brother Joe? Well, he’s been able to that in the past on a number of occasions, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote on Saturday.

Still, it’s going to be a very difficult test for the Packers to stay with the Steelers on Sunday night based on statistics.

The Steelers are ranked 10th in the NFL in total offense, as they average 357.5 yards per game. The Packers are ranked 18th in total defense and give up an average of 340.1 yards per game.

Add to that, the Packers will be dealing with the the Killer B’s…quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Roethlisberger has had better seasons in the past, but he still can wing it with the best of them. For the season, Big Ben has thrown 16 TD passes versus 10 interceptions for 2,597 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 87.8.

Roethlisberger is always looking for a big play, as evidenced by his 33 completions of 20-plus yards or more and his 10 completions of 40-plus yards or more.

Big Ben has only been sacked 14 times and that doesn’t bode well for the Packers, who are 21st in the NFL with 21 sacks.

In addition to that, the Packers are ranked 18th in the NFL in passing defense and allowed opposing QBs to have a cumulative passer rating of 95.5. Opposing QBs have thrown 13 TD passes versus seven picks against Green Bay.

Roethlisberger loves to look for Brown in the passing game, which is evidenced by the 70 catches for 1,026 and yards and six scores by No. 84. The receptions and yards by Brown lead the NFL.

Besides trying to stop the passing game of the Steelers, the Packers also have to contain Bell in the running game. That will be a tough task. Bell leads the NFL with 886 yards rushing and also has five touchdowns.

Bell is also exceptional catching the football, as he has 49 receptions for 308 yards.

The Packers are better defending the run, as opposed to the pass, as they are 11th (105.7 yards per game) in the NFL in that category. But the defense will be missing a key cog, as defensive lineman Kenny Clark will be out, while outside linebacker Clay Matthews will also most likely be out.

The bottom line is the Packers will have a monumental task ahead of them in trying to win this game.

That being said, I believe the Packers will give a very spirited effort on Sunday night and will play the Steelers tough for the most part. If Hundley continues to play poorly, I don’t think McCarthy will hesitate to put in backup Joe Callahan.

McCarthy wants his team to play with pride and passion on national television in his hometown. I see that happening. Will that mean a victory? Probably not, but if I was betting this game, I would bet the under.

Wisconsin Can Go Where No Badger Has Gone Before vs. Minnesota on Saturday

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota

The Wisconsin Badgers (11-0, 8-0) have a number of goals that they want to achieve they play the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-6, 2-6) at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

For one, the Badgers obviously want to stay undefeated, which will keep them in play in terms of being one of four teams in the College Football Playoff. The Badgers also want to win the Paul Bunyan Axe game for the 14th consecutive time in their rivalry with the Gophers.

The Axe game has been going on since 1948, and Wisconsin holds a 42-24-3 margin over Minnesota over that time. Speaking of the rivalry between the Badgers and Gophers, it’s the longest, uninterrupted rivalry in FBS Division 1 college football.

The overall series between the two teams is now tied at 59-59-8.

All that being said, there is one thing that Badgers can accomplish on Saturday with a victory over the Gophers that has never been done before in Wisconsin football history.

If you are thinking that the answer might be an undefeated season, you would be incorrect. The Badgers have had three undefeated seasons, but all were over 100 years ago. The Badgers were 9-0 in 1901, 5-0 in 1906 and 7-0 in 1912.

Instead, the one thing that the Badgers have never done is lead the series against the Gophers. The two teams first started playing in 1890 and have played 126 times, but not once have the Badgers led the series against their biggest rival.

Wisconsin has an excellent chance of doing that for the first time on Saturday. Certainly the overall statistics of the two teams say they will win the game.

The Badgers are ranked 44th in total offense in FBS, which includes being ranked 21st in rushing offense and 98th in passing offense.

But the big calling-card of the Badgers is their defense, which is currently ranked second in total defense. That includes being ranked first in rushing defense and seventh in passing defense.

The Gophers on the other hand, are ranked 119th in total offense, which includes being ranked 41st in rushing offense and 122nd in passing offense.

Minnesota is much better on the other side of the ball, as they are ranked 28th in total defense. That includes being ranked 61st in rushing defense and 14th in passing defense.

So, as you can see, the strength of Wisconsin on offense is running the ball, while the weakness for the Minnesota defense is stopping the run.

That is one reason the Badgers have a big edge in this game.

When is comes to toting the rock, the Badgers are led by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who leads the Big 10 in rushing and is third in the country in that category, as he has run for 1,657 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Badgers as a team average 239.3 yards per game on the ground, while the Gophers give up an average of 161.7 yards per game trying to contain the running game.

The Badgers aren’t as proficient passing the ball, but sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook may have had his two best back-to-back series of the season against Michigan last week at Camp Randall Stadium, as the Badgers beat the Wolverines 24-10 behind three clutch throws by No. 12 in those two drives.

For the season, Hornibrook is ranked 17th in the country in passing efficiency, as he has thrown 18 touchdown passes versus 13 interceptions for 2,006 yards. That adds up to a passing efficiency rating of 152.4.

Hornibrook is still too prone to throwing an ill-advised pick, but he always seems to bounce back strong like he did last week against the Wolverines after throwing an interception. It was after that pick that No. 12 made three of the best passes he has made all season on back-to-back drives that both led to touchdowns. And all three of those pass completions came on third down.

In the passing game, Hornibrook loves looking for senior tight end Troy Fumagalli, who has 36 receptions for 460 yards and three touchdowns.

But when sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus (30 catches for 501 yards and six touchdowns) was lost for the season with a leg injury, many people wondered if the other young receivers on the Badgers would step up.

And step up they have. Sophomore A.J. Taylor now has 18 catches for 315 yards and four scores, including one against Michigan last week.

Freshman Danny Davis III has 13 receptions for 271 yards and one touchdown, while fellow freshman Kendric Pryor has seven for 92 yards and one score.

Pryor has also come up big on the ground, as he has rushed for 63 yards this season and has scored a touchdown on a reverse play in back-to back weeks against Iowa and Michigan.

Between the steady and consistent running game and the effective passing game at times, Wisconsin is second in the country in time of possession, as they hold the ball an average of 35 minutes per game.

Vince Biegel with the axe II

Former Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel leads a contingent of Badgers swinging the Paul Bunyan Axe after the 31-21 victory at TCF Bank Stadium in 2015.

But as I mentioned earlier, it’s the defense of the Badgers that is the dominating force behind the great success the team has had in 2017.

Besides being ranked second nationally in total defense and first in rushing defense, the Badgers are also at or near the top in a number of other defensive categories.

Wisconsin is also ranked second in the country in scoring defense (13.1), plus is ranked sixth in team sacks (37) and is tied for seventh in red zone defense.

The 3-4 defense of Wisconsin is a tough one to solve, as defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard uses multiple looks to confuse the opposing quarterbacks.

It’s hard to believe that Leonhard is just in his second year as a coach and just his first as a defensive coordinator.

Speaking of coaches, Wisconsin has to be absolutely thrilled with the job head coach Paul Chryst has done since he took over in 2015. Since then, the Badgers have gone 32-6, which includes going 10-3 in 2015 and winning the Holiday Bowl and 11-3 in 2016 and winning the Cotton Bowl.

The Badgers opponent in the Cotton Bowl was Western Michigan, who came into the game with a 13-0 record and was coached by current Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck. The Badgers won the game 24-16.

Chryst keeps the Badgers on an even keel. The team is well balanced in all phases. That also includes special teams.

Junior Kicker Rafael Gaglianone has made 11-of-13 field goals (.846 percentage) and has been very steady this season.

Sophomore punter Anthony Lotti is averaging 39.8 yards per punt. Plus, the return game is also becoming a force, as junior Nick Nelson returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown last week against Michigan and is averaging 8.8 yards per return.

Bottom line, the game on Saturday against the Gophers is a huge one for the Badgers in a number of phases. The team can stay undefeated heading into the B1G title game next week against Ohio State, plus can retain possession of the Paul Bunyan Axe for the 14th consecutive time.

Not only that, the Badgers can do something that no other team in Wisconsin history has ever done. That is, take the series lead against their biggest rival who they have been playing since 1890.

Green Bay Packers: Jamaal Williams Gets His Chance to Shine Now at Running Back

Jamaal Williams vs. da Bears

Having a solid ground game is always a plus for the Green Bay Packers once the weather starts getting cold, damp and snowy in the region where the Fox River connects to the bay off Lake Michigan.

The Packers have been blessed with two of the best quarterbacks (Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers) to ever play in the NFL in the last quarter century, but from November through the end of the season and the postseason, it’s always a positive to have an effective running game as well.

In fact, if one looks at the NFL titles that the Packers won when they were victorious in Super Bowl XXXI with Favre at quarterback and Super Bowl XLV with Rodgers at quarterback, the team was very productive running the football in the postseason which later led to a Vince Lombardi Trophy.

It’s even more important to have a running game you can count on when you are playing a young backup quarterback like the Packers currently are doing with Brett Hundley, due to the broken collarbone suffered by Rodgers in Week 6 versus the Minnesota Vikings.

And right now, even with injuries at the running back position, the Packers have been very solid in running the football in a number of categories.

Going into the matchup Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field versus the 4-5 Baltimore Ravens, the 5-4 Packers know they will be without rookie Aaron Jones (MCL sprain) and it also looks like Ty Montgomery (ribs) will also miss the game, based on comments made by head coach Mike McCarthy on Friday.

Jones was a having a great rookie campaign before his knee injury, which will keep him out of the lineup for several weeks. Up until the injury, , which he suffered last Sunday against the Chicago Bears, Jones had rushed for 370 (5.3 yards per carry average) and scored three touchdowns. Plus, Jones had broken off three runs of 20-plus yards or more.

Montgomery first hurt his ribs in Week 4 against the Bears at Lambeau and then hurt them again last week against da Bears at Soldier Field. So far in 2017, Montgomery has rushed for 270 yards (3.8 yards per carry average) and three touchdowns.

Because of the injuries in the Chicago game, the Packers called on Jamaal Williams, another rookie running back, to carry the load. Williams carried 20 times for 67 yards, as the Packers beat the Bears 23-16.

Before we can look ahead and surmise about how effective Williams and company will do versus the Ravens and also down the stretch in the 2017 season, let’s first look at how good the running game has been for the Packers compared to other NFL teams.

Currently, the Packers are ranked 18th in rushing offense in the NFL. But that doesn’t tell the real story. The Packers are tied for fifth in the league in two very important categories. They are yards per carry average (4.5) and touchdowns (nine).

Plus, Green Bay running backs have only fumbled the ball once in 2017, which ties them for the league lead in that category as well.

Williams is a different type of runner compared to both Jones and Montgomery. No. 30 is more of straight-ahead, grinding between-the-tackles type of running back. Where as both Jones and Montgomery are more cut and run type of backs that can be very effective running to the outside.

Plus, both Jones (eight catches for 16 yards) and Montgomery (23 catches for 173 yards and one score) are better receivers than Williams. That being said, Williams is a better blocking back without a doubt and that’s important when a young quarterback like Hundley goes through his reads going back to pass.

Williams can catch the ball as well, as he has five catches for 45 yards. Overall for the season, Williams has run for 101 yards on 31 carries, which averages out to a very pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry average. Williams also has a rushing touchdown.

The Packers decided to load up at the running back position in the 2017 NFL draft, when they drafted Williams in the fourth round, Jones in the fifth round and Devante Mays in the seventh round.

Expect to see Mays getting some carries on Sunday backing up Williams versus the Ravens.

Speaking of Baltimore, although their defense has been fairly solid in 2017 (6th in total defense), the Ravens struggle in stopping the run, as they are ranked 28th in the NFL, as they give up an average of 125.9 yards per game.

Jamaal Williams II

Getting back to Williams, NFL scout Chris Landry was very impressed with what he saw of Williams at the Senior Bowl.

This is what Landry said about Williams after the first day of practice at Mobile that week:

“BYU’s Jamaal Williams entered as the expected top running back and looked the part after Day 1. Williams is a smooth runner, and was making nice cuts during team drills and was consistently the most productive of the running back group. Williams simply looked natural.”

This is what Landry said about Williams at the next practice:

“I was surprised by the speed and quickness Williams showed. He hits the hole with authority and ran hard all day.”

This is what Landry opined about Williams the following day at practice:

“Williams was one of the better backs of the day. He ran the ball well on the inside, picking his way through the traffic and he also looked terrific catching the ball out of the backfield. He was the best of all the backs in blocking drills.”

And after the Packers selected Williams in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft, here is what Landry said about the former BYU star:

“A decisive, downhill grinder on college tape, Williams is a two-down back with a ceiling in the Alfred Morris range. That said, he could find himself with a big rookie role behind Ty Montgomery.”

In his career at BYU, Williams rushed for 3,901 yards (5.4 average) and 35 touchdowns. Williams also added 60 receptions for 567 yards and another score.

In 2016, the 6’0″, 212-pound Williams rushed for 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns, which includes one game when Williams ran 287 yards and five touchdowns before an ankle injury sidelined him.

The bottom line is that there is still a lot of upside for Williams to be very successful in the NFL.

This is what running backs coach Ben Sirmans said about Williams being the man toting the rock for the Pack.

“He’s a downhill runner,” Sirmans said, “trying to get four yards-plus, very aggressive. I think it just took him some time to get a comfort level just with what we were doing. And once that happened, he just relaxed and stopped being as conservative as he was as a runner, and figured, ‘Hey man, this is just like running in college,’ at least from the way he goes about his business.

“The things that we thought he possessed is what he showed.”

We shall see how Williams plays this Sunday against the Ravens and later on in the season, but based on the insightful comments I’ve heard from from people in the know like Landry and Sirmans, I like his chances of succeeding.

Michigan vs. Wisconsin: By the Numbers

Wisconsin-vs-Michigan

When the No. 5-ranked (College Football Playoff) and the 10-0/7-0 Wisconsin Badgers take on the No. 24-ranked (CFP) and the 8-2/5-2 Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon, a lot will be on the line.

For the Badgers, they need to remain unbeaten for a chance to be in the four-team college football playoff. Right now, Wisconsin sits behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Miami (FL.) and No. 4 Oklahoma.

Of the top five teams in the CFP, only Wisconsin is playing a ranked opponent.

Wisconsin has already clinched the B1G West and will play in the B1G championship game.

Michigan also has something on the line. The Wolverines can win 10 games this year by beating the Badgers on Saturday and then Ohio State (8-2/6-1) next week at Ann Arbor. If that does indeed happen, the Wolverines would still have a slim chance of also winning the B1G East.

But for that to happen, both Penn State (8-2/5-2) and Michigan State (7-3/5-2) must each lose one more game this season, as both the Nittany Lions and Spartans beat the Wolverines in a head to head matchup this season.

But before we look at how the two teams stack up against each other statistically in the upcoming game on Saturday in Madison, I wanted to look at some historical numbers of how this rivalry has played out over the years.

In the big picture, the Wolverines have dominated, as they hold a 50-14-1 edge over the Badgers in the all-time series between the two teams. The first game between the two teams was in 1892, when Michigan won 10-6. Yes, you read that correctly. The Badgers and Wolverines first played 125 years ago.

In recent years, like in the past quarter century or so since Barry Alvarez arrived on the scene at Wisconsin, first as head coach and now as athletic director, and the Badgers have become a force in the Big 10, the rivalry between the two schools has been more even-handed.

In the 15 games that the two teams have played sine 1993, the Wolverines have won nine of those games, but the Badgers have won two out of the last three.

Harbaugh and Chryst

In terms of the 2017 matchup, both teams are led by head coaches who once played quarterback for the schools they now coach.

Paul Chryst has done a fabulous job since taking over the reins at Wisconsin and now has 31-6 record with the Badgers in three seasons, which includes two straight B1G West championships, two straight bowl wins (Holiday and Cotton) and also winning the Big Ten Coach of the Year award in 2016.

Jim Harbaugh is now in his third year at Michigan as head coach and has a 28-8 record, which includes two bowl appearances (Citrus and Orange), as Michigan split those two bowl games, winning the 2016 Citrus Bowl.

Chryst and Harbaugh coached against each other last season, as the Wolverines beat the Badgers 14-7 at Michigan Stadium.

As both teams get ready for the game on Saturday, the focus will be on each of the defenses, as both Wisconsin and Michigan are exceptional on that side of the ball.

Michigan is ranked No. 3 in total defense in the country, which includes being ranked second in passing defense and ninth in rushing defense.

Wisconsin is ranked No. 1 in total defense, which includes being ranked first in rushing defense and seventh in passing defense. And this is a defense that is being led by Jim Leonhard, who is a first-year defensive coordinator and in only his second year of coaching.

In terms of other defensive categories, Wisconsin is ranked third in scoring defense (13.4 points per game), while Michigan is ranked ninth (16.4 points per game).

The Badgers are ranked fourth (3.50 per game) in the country in sacks, while the Wolverines are tied for seventh (3.30 per game).

As one might be able to see just by a quick glance at the numbers put together by each of the defenses in this game, both the Wisconsin and Michigan offenses will have their work cut out for them.

By the numbers, the Badgers have an advantage here.

Wisconsin is ranked 36th in total offense in the country, which includes being ranked 17th in rushing offense and 96th in passing offense.

Meanwhile, Michigan is ranked 94th in total offense, which includes being ranked 31st in rushing offense and 113th in passing offense.

In terms of time of possession, Wisconsin is ranked second in the country as they hold the ball for an average of 35 minutes per game.

Michigan is ranked 18th in the country in that category, as they hold the ball an average of 32 minutes per game.

The reason that both teams can hold the ball so long is their ability to run the ball so effectively.

Jonathan Taylor vs. Iowa

The Badgers are led by freshman Jonathan Taylor, who is third in the nation with 1,525 yards rushing and also has 12 touchdowns.

Michigan’s top running back is junior Karan Higdon, who has rushed for 854 yards and 10 scores.

A game like the one we will see on Saturday could come down to turnovers and also the play of special teams.

The turnover battle is where Wisconsin has to be concerned. Alex Hornibrook has thrown 12 interceptions this season, while Michigan as a team has thrown just seven.

Now Hornibrook is ranked 12th in the country in passing efficiency (155.6), as he has also thrown 17 touchdown passes and has thrown for 1,863 yards. But his recent propensity to throw picks has to be concerning.

Meanwhile since Brandon Peters has taken over as quarterback of the Wolverines, the team has won three straight games and he has thrown four touchdown passes without a pick.

Both Wisconsin and Michigan have coughed up the ball at inopportune times, as each have fumbled seven times.

The weather forecast for Saturday’s game won’t make things any easier for each team in terms of holding onto the ball, as the forecast is calling for a 90 percent chance of a rain/snow mix with temperatures in the 30s. The wind will also be a factor (18 mph).

That could also effect the kicking game of each team.

Michigan is ranked 88th in the country in net punting (36.91), while Wisconsin is ranked 95th in that category (36.62).

The return games of both Wisconsin and Michigan are a bit mediocre. The Wolverines are ranked 54th in punt returns (8.19) and 100th in kickoff returns (19.57), while Wisconsin is tied for 85th in punt returns (6.00) and is 50th in kickoff returns (21.90).

It’s also important to note that Michigan has blocked two kicks and one punt, while Wisconsin has not blocked any kicks or punts.

In terms of the kickers, the Badgers seem to have the advantage.

Rafeal Gaglianone of Wisconsin is tied for 30th in the country in field goal percentage, as he has made 10-of-12 field goals for an .833 percentage.

Meanwhile, Quinn Nordin of Michigan is tied for 60th in the country, as he has made 14-of-19 field goal attempts for a .737 percentage.

So what do I expect in this contest? I see the defenses of each team dominating for the most part in this game, although the Badgers do have the advantage on offense. But in a tight game like this one should be, not turning the ball over and being solid in the kicking game will the key factors in this game.

Whoever does the best in those two categories will most likely win the game.

I do see the Badgers winning, but it won’t be easy and mistakes (turnovers and penalties) must be kept at a minimum.

A Scout’s Take on Whether the Wisconsin Badgers Will Be in the College Football Playoff

Badgers College Football Playoff

The 9-0/6-0 Wisconsin Badgers head into their huge matchup against the 6-3/3-3 Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium knowing that they have a great opportunity to move up in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Currently, the Badgers are ranked No. 8 in the rankings. Wisconsin is also ranked No. 6 in the AP Top 25 and No. 3 in the Coaches Poll. But the most important one is CFP rankings.

Iowa is now ranked No. 20 in the CFP rankings, due to their 55-24 blowout of Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium last Saturday.

So a win against Iowa would definitely add some credibility to the record of Wisconsin, who have been criticized by some for playing a soft schedule on their way to a so far undefeated season.

But no matter who is on the schedule, the Badgers have been playing with a one game at a time mantra and it’s paid off so far in 2017.

The Badgers will also be helped by the fact four of the teams in front of them in the CFP rankings will be playing each other.  No. 3 Notre Dame will travel to Miami to play the No. 7 Hurricanes, plus No. 6 TCU travels to Norman to play No. 5 Oklahoma.

If the Badgers beat Iowa, they should move in front of the two losers of the matchups listed above.

Also, No. 1 Georgia will have a very difficult matchup against No. 10 Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Is if that wasn’t enough, No. 2 Alabama travels to No. 16 Mississippi State in another Top 20 CFP matchup.

Bottom line, something is going to give in the CFP rankings after this weekend.

All that being said, I wanted to get a read on the CFP rankings by talking with one of the best in the business, NFL scout Chris Landry. I had another opportunity to talk with Landry on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show on Wednesday.

Before Landry gave me his take on the CFP rankings, I told him that I basically agreed with a comment recently made by Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez.

“There’s no part of me that says if you go undefeated as a Power 5 (Conference team) and win our conference championship, and you’re not going to be in the final four?” Alvarez said. “I don’t see that. That would shock me.”

Landry then offered a lengthy opinion about the matter.

“Here’s the thing about that,” Landry said. “Barry is politicking because he’s not on the committee. Are we going to pick the four best teams or are we going to have these rules like having an unbeaten team in there? There are no such rules. That just goes to tell you where the politics are. Barry was part of the politics [formerly a CFP committee member] and that’s why the system is flawed and you can’t trust those guys.

“If you are picking the four best teams in the country, I’m sorry, but Wisconsin is not one of them. 13-0 and 14-0, their not. I don’t care what they do, they [the CFP committee] are going to put in who they want to put in. And if you don’t think that there is politics or pressure from the likes of Jim Delany [Big 10 Commissioner], you are fooling yourself.

“The bottom line is that Wisconsin is not one of the four best. They don’t look like one of the four best. Right now they would not be ranked any higher than seventh in terms of film evaluation. I like the team and I think they are a good team. But I don’t think they are close to a Georgia or an Alabama. Are they going to get in? I don’t know. I don’t know what 13 other people are going to vote to put in.

“But if you put them in because they are unbeaten and they are a Power 5 school, what does that really mean? That’s great, that’s fine. But you are not picking the four best. To me, it’s just be straight with everyone. And make the rules. You have to win your conference or take the conference champion and expand it. But don’t sit there and say, because it’s sort of nebulous as to who the best four teams are. Well, a lot of these people who are voting don’t know how to determine who the four best teams are.

“So they are going to say that this team went unbeaten and it’s not their fault who they played. Yes, it’s not their fault, but don’t you think that it contributes to their unbeaten record as opposed to going through a more difficult schedule. To me, this will play it’s way out. I think Michigan is going to be a tough game for Wisconsin. They are starting to play better offensively with their new quarterback. So, we’ll see.

“I think if they are able to beat Michigan State or Ohio State [B1G title game], I think that’s great. It’s a great season. But because you go unbeaten in one given conference doesn’t make you automatically one of the four best teams in the country.

“I don’t know how people determine the four best, but for me, it’s on film. Others are going to look at it differently. I can’t tell you who the four best will be in December. I’ll answer that then. But right now, it’s Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson. And quite frankly, it’s not even close.”

Jonathan Taylor shakes Paul Chryst's hand

That opinion might jolt some in Badger Nation, but it comes from someone who is one the best in his craft in terms of evaluating players and teams on film. We are also talking about a scout who has been very high on the Badgers going back to July when I first started conversing with him about how Wisconsin would play in the upcoming season. Back then, Landry considered the Badgers the best in the Big 10 West and one of the top four teams in the conference.

Landry also talked about the games this weekend and the possible future of the Badgers in the College Football Playoff.

“Let me say this, I think Miami is not as good as people think,” Landry said. ” I think that will be proven this week. Also, Oklahoma and TCU are playing one another. So Wisconsin is going to move up, Bob.

“I’m going to look and see if they beat a good Iowa team and then they go ahead and take care of Michigan, I’m going to be impressed by that. And if they beat Minnesota and then beat Michigan State [or Ohio State], they will move up. And it’s very possible that at that time, the fourth best team in the country is Wisconsin. But right now, they’re not.”