Column RICK SOLEM
It’s Thanksgiving. And in the grand scheme of things, being thankful for sports is way down on the list.
But, wow, what a weekend for Wisconsin fans – and maybe Minnesota depending on how the football game goes.
It all kicked off Wednesday night the No. 2-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team (27-2) clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 2001. They wrap up the regular season looking for win No. 19 in a row against Purdue at the Kohl Center.
It continued when the Milwaukee Bucks walked all over the injury-riddled Minnesota Timberwolves.
Shortly after that, the also No. 2-ranked Wisconsin men’s basketball team nearly doubled up UAB. La Crosse, Wis., native, however, continues to struggle from the field, going 1-for-3 in 20 minutes.
The sophomore is seventh on the team in minutes, but shooting just 33 percent and 18.2 percent from beyond the arc. He does have 11 assists and just two turnovers, so there’s no need to fret. He’s doing the little things. The shooting will come.
Wisconsin continues play today against 4-0 and unranked Georgetown.
The fun continues Friday with the Badgers wrapping up their Bahamas trip – game TBA – and the Bucks taking on the struggling Pistons at 6:30 p.m. Milwaukee plays again Saturday night against the Rockets.
The highlight of the weekend is a tossup. Is it the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Camp Randall where so much is one the line or the Green Bay Packers-New England Patriots game Sunday?
With a win Saturday, the Badgers keep Paul Bunyan’s axe – for the 11th time. They take the Big Ten West title and punch their ticket to the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State.
Melvin Gordon is already a Heisman Trophy candidate. But the junior is also chasing a legend. In 1988, Barry Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards in 11 games.
If the Badgers keep winning – that’s important – and Gordon averages over 191 yards a game, he will overtake Sanders as the FBS’s single-season leader. Right now, Gordon has 2,163 yards.
It’s a tough feat and Gordon would need three more games to break the record at that pace, which just goes to show how legendary Sanders was at Oklahoma State.
OK, deep breath, the weekend’s not done.
Arguably, the two best teams in the NFL kick off at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The trash talking has been, well, it has been weird.
It’s consisted of Patriots coach Bill Belichick saying the comparison between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers is “They both wear No. 12.” Packers coach Mike McCarthy fired back with, “They’re both from California,” and that, folks, is coaches talking trash. I guess.
The game should be better. It better be. The Packers have won seven of their last eight, almost all of them blowouts (they beat the Dolphins in the last seconds and squeaked by the Vikings).
The Patriots have won nine of 10 – seven in a row – and, too, have blown out just about everyone. They snuck by the Raiders 16-9 and Jets 27-25, probably playing down to their competition.
What a weekend. I’m thankful for other, more important things, but this is one amazing weekend of Wisconsin sports – unless the Gophers and Patriots win.