Final Axe test for Wisconsin seniors

first_imgFor years they’ve been playing the Axe game, but for years it has been a one-sided affair. It’s been more than a decade since Minnesota took Paul Bunyan’s Axe from Wisconsin, and years since the game has been competitive. But with both teams ranked in the BCS and owning matching 8-2 records, change could be on its way.It will be the 123rd time the Badgers take on the Golden Gophers, the most played series among FBS schools. Arriving just weeks after Wisconsin’s second rivalry against Iowa, it’s clear this one means a little more.“It’s incredible the tradition behind it, and I think that’s just what sets it apart,” senior linebacker Ethan Armstrong said. “Just the ferocity of it being a rivalry game. They always say, ‘throw out the records.’”That’s what the last few games in this rivalry have required. At the time of its last three meetings, Wisconsin has been a combined 16-5 while Minnesota has arrived 7-13. The combined scores in those games have finished in the Badgers’ favor, a combined 121-49. And the beginning of the 2013 season didn’t seem like much had changed when the Gophers opened the Big Ten season with back-to-back defeats.But even as head coach Jerry Kill’s intermittent seizures caused him to leave the team indefinitely, the Minnesota season has turned with four straight conference wins, vaulting them into second place in the Legends division, giving them faint hope for a Big Ten Championship game birth. Although they might be new to the BCS standings, this is a much different Minnesota team from the beginning of the season.Likely the most noticeable difference is in the running game. The Gophers were run-oriented, splitting carries between four hands — two running backs, Roderick Williams Jr. and David Cobb, and two quarterbacks, Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner.Since then, Cobb has taken over sole possession of the running duties while Nelson has solidified himself as the lone signal caller. Not surprisingly, both are playing their best football during the Gophers’ four-game winning streak.Nelson hasn’t thrown an interception since September, completing more than 63 percent of his passes and tossing seven touchdowns during that span of games. The 6-foot-2 sophomore from Mankato, Minn. is also an offensive threat in the running department.Nelson has rushed 78 times this season for six scores and 335 yards, a heavy load for any quarterback. Nonetheless, his running back is still getting plenty of touches.Over their four-game winning streak, Cobb has taken more than 26 carries for 142 yards on average. Needing just 58 yards Saturday, he would become the first Gopher to run for 1,000 yard since 2006.Minnesota’s attack brings memories of that Iowa game, with tough tight ends and bulky running backs. Armstrong said that type of game is either a linebacker’s dream or a linebacker’s nightmare, saying the pressure is put on wrapping up and finishing tackles.Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda noted the Badgers don’t want to let the Gophers into short third down situations. It’s that type of battle guys like Pat Muldoon enjoy, however.“It’s different, but it’s nice for us as d-lineman. We prefer it,” senior defensive end Muldoon said of the hard-nosed football decided in the trenches. “It’s going to come down to who is tougher, who’s going to be more physical at the point of attack … it’ll be important in this game.”That’ll come down to the likes of Muldoon and guys like Beau Allen, Ethan Hemer and Tyler Dippel, to name a few. Brendan Kelly’s name could also be in the mix. For guys like Kelly and Allen, this game has extra meaning. They are two of six Minnesota natives on the Wisconsin squad, joined by cornerback Keelon Brookins, offensive lineman Tyler Marz and long snappers James McGuire and Connor Udelhoven.“I know it means the most to the guys from Minnesota who can go home with bragging rights, like Beau,” Muldoon said. “He talks about this game nonstop. I know it’s important to him and guys like Brendan Kelly, all those guys.”The axe game will have an interesting coaching feel surrounding it. Kill will remain in his emotional role for the Gophers while it will be the first axe game for Wisconsin’s generally new set of coaches.The group has been around rivalries in previous positions — like BYU-Utah for head coach Gary Andersen — and will undoubtedly reference them in prep for Saturday. If they follow the players’ lead, though, most of them will have acclimated well.“In the beginning of practice, specialists will go out and we’ll have a 10-minute walk through and then we’ll start practice,” Aranda said. “The linebackers came out to my station during the specialist period to get extra work … the only time they’ve done that was before Ohio State and this week. So when I’m sitting over there by my trash cans in specialist period and the linebackers come running out there to get a head start, then you know it’s a different week.”Yeah, it’s the Axe week.last_img read more

Read More →

An in depth look at Great Lakes cruising coming to the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisAlpena, Mich. — Great Lakes cruising is beginning to take over the Sunrise Side.Last year, we saw massive ships stop in Alpena. Tomorrow night you can learn more about the cruising industry and how it effects small port communities like ours. Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes Senior Project Administrator Michael Beaulac will present the history of Great Lakes cruising and what is considered to be the golden age of the industry.His research has come to unveil some of the social and economic implications of these massive vessels. Not to mention that Michigan has very unique cultures at every small port.“It’s something that’s pretty important to us here, ” said Beaulac. “Also, just the maritime culture here is pretty unique, very different than the coast of New England or even Norway and Iceland and places like that, so what’s here that’s unique? I mean that’s what we need to embrace, that’s what we need to promote here.”Catch this fascinating lecture tomorrow night at the great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.thunderbayfriends.orgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: alpena, Cruise Ship, Great Lakes, Great Lakes Cruising, GREAT LAKES MARITIME HERITAGE CENTER, maritime culture, Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes, Port, Sunrise SideContinue ReadingPrevious Glennie man killed in rollover car accidentNext Hope Shores new executive director focused on ‘access’ for sexual abuse survivorslast_img read more

Read More →