If you are not familiar with college sports, you would most likely be asking me how can Bo Ryan do something Urban Meyer did? Well, Urban Meyer was the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, that knocked off Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the National Title game to win the first ever College Football Playoff.
The odds however were stacked against the Buckeyes, as they suffered key injuries to important players. The most notable were Braxton Miller. Miller, who was going to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback, injured his right shoulder in a practice right before the season was set to start. The injury forced Miller to miss the rest of the season, which resulted in back-up quarterback J.T. Barrett becoming the starter.
Many people expected the Buckeyes to have a down year as a result of the injury, but J.T. Barrett lead the Buckeyes 12-1 record while throwing for 2,834 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. However, Barrett then went down with an injury. During the Buckeyes 42-28 win over the Michigan Wolverines, Barrett suffered a fractured ankle, which would then end his season right before the Big Ten Championship game.
“We lost a Heisman candidate today,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said after the game as a result of Barrett’s injury.
In steps Cardale Jones. Just like with J.T. Barrett coming into the season, many people thought Ohio State would fall off and miss the College Football Playoff. That also wasn’t the case. Jones lead the Buckeyes to a 59-0 rout of the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game as he three touchdowns for 257 yards in the game.
People still did not believe in the Buckeyes after their blowout of Wisconsin, as the Buckeyes received the 4th seed in the first ever College Football Playoff, which most people called a dumb decision by the committee. No one really gave Ohio State a shot to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl as well. Cardale Jones came up big for Ohio State again, as he threw 1 touchdown for 243 yards in Ohio State’s 42-35 win over the Crimson Tide.
Many people still called Ohio State a “fluke” after their Sugar Bowl win, but the Buckeyes just kept on showing out. The Buckeyes dismantled Oregon 42-20, as Jones threw one touchdown again for 242 yards and rushed for 38 yards on 21 attempts with one rushing touchdowns.
Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bo Ryan has found himself with a very comparable situation as well. In Wisconsin’s 65-62 lost to Rutgers in which Frank Kaminsky did not play, Ryan’s starting point guard Traevon Jackson went down with a broken foot. Jackson still has not returned from the injury, but just like Ohio State, someone has taken big strides in his absence.
Wisconsin Badgers guard Bronson Koenig is the man who has stepped up for Bo Ryan that no one saw coming. You could argue that Koenig’s play has been better than Jackson’s this season as well, that’s how good he’s been. Koenig has been like a Traevon Jackson 2.0, hitting clutch shots for Wisconsin and not turning the ball over for the Badgers.
Koenig’s amazing performance with Jackson being hurt is comparable to what Urban Meyer had to deal with at Ohio State. The players that had to fill in weren’t expected to play great like they have, and both teams were expect to take step backwards. They also both play in the Big Ten, and with Wisconsin getting a number one seed out of 4 other one seeds in Kentucky, Duke, and Villanova, you could argue that Wisconsin is the 4th best team just like Ohio State was.
Koenig’s big play can be tracked back to wanting to be a role model for American Indians, as Koenig embraces his role as being one for his culture, as he spoke on many different thoughts he had on American Indian culture in a recent interview.
Koenig on the area he lived in during his life:
“I don’t remember everything but I remember it was a place you don’t want to go back to.”
“I’m always curious because I didn’t know all that much, and in history classes we’d only talk about it a little bit,” he said, referring to his days at Aquinas. “But I would be really interested because that is my people and we don’t learn much about them.”
Koenig gives Bo Ryan a tough deciscon to make. Who should be his starting point guard? Jackson has proven to be a closer for Wisconsin in the past as he has hit countless clutch shots to lead the Badgers to be wins before, but now Koenig is starting to do just that as well.
There’s more where that came from, as Jackson silenced the Penn State crowd.
Jackson’s most notable shot came against a hard fought game versus the Michigan State Spartans.
Bronson Koenig also shared his thoughts on a big day for him, as he help lead Wisconsin to their first Big Ten Tournament Championship win since 2008.
Bronson also can’t wait until Traevon Jackson returns.
“He’s a senior leader and I’m gonna be really happy for him when he comes back. And it’s gonna very nice to have that extra depth and it’s gonna be nice for someone to give you a break.”
While we may not have expected it, Koenig was confident he could match Jackson’s great play.
“I was confident that I could step in and be the floor general for this team,” Koenig said. It’s nice when you have Sam Nigel and Frank in there to get a bucket pretty much whenever you really need one.”
Bo Ryan recognizes what Koenig has done for him as well, as he spoke on him following Wisconsin’s 72-48 win over Ohio State in which Koenig hit two critical three’s to ice the game for the Badgers.
“That’s Bronson. He is a gamer, no question about that.”
Bronson’s great play in the Big Ten Tournament has been a result of the game, as he struggled in Wisconsin’s lost to Maryland, where he shot 2-12 from the field.
“The last couple games I feel like every time I drive it just rolls around and goes out,” he said. “So it was nice to get to get some confidence going to the hoop again.”
“I thought that is what Ohio State was trying to do ,” he said. “They were trying to crowd me, make me turn the ball over. My first step was working for me.”
Jackson’s also helped the Badgers from the bench as well. If you were watching CBS’ broadcast of the Michigan State-Wisconsin game, before Bo Ryan even arrived in the locker room after the Badgers were down 35-30 at the half, Traevon Jackson was talking to the team and showed them things he saw and what they need to improve on.
While it’s not certain Jackson will return at the start of the NCAA tournament, that is his goal.
“I’d say I’m about 90 percent right now,” Jackson said. “I definitely have a way to go on some things, but I feel good mentally.
“The only reason why I wouldn’t [be ready for the NCAA tournament] is if it [his foot] is still bothering me,” Jackson said. “We’ll see. It’s a day-to-day type thing, but this has definitely put things in perspective as to where I want to be at.
“I don’t want to be hobbling around. I want to be out there competing.”
Koenig has also spoke on how much Jackson has helped him.
“He’s been very helpful,” Koenig said. Before the game, after the game, in timeouts, he just tells me to keep pushing the ball, go to the rim, keep shooting,” Koenig said of Traevon Jackson. It helps to have a senior leader like Trae who has kind of been through it all.
“If I come back, I wouldn’t see any reason for us to shuffle things up with the way we’ve been playing,” Traevon Jackson said. “I just want to try and help out the team as much as possible in whatever role that can be.”
Bo Ryan also hopes Jackson can play for the Badgers again.
“I just hope he gets to play again with his teammates and put the uniform on and get out there and be a part of it, no matter what happens. I know he doesn’t want to finish his college career without playing another game or more. He’s rehabbing and doing his best and the medical people will clear him when he’s ready, hopefully it’s soon.”
Wisconsin’s comparison to Ohio State’s run at a title could be a little bit different if Traevon Jackson does indeed return, but it’s still a very comparison to make if Bo Ryan and the Badgers are cutting down the Nets and passing around the trophy in early April.
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