WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Packers 10-point favorites tonight over Chicago
The Green Bay Packers are a 10-and-a-half-point favorite over the Chicago Bears tonight at Lambeau Field. The Packers have won four straight, while the Bears expect to be more energized after coming off their bye week. A Chicago victory would create a three-way tie atop the N-F-C North Division with the Packers, Bears, and Detroit all at 5-and-3. The Packers lead the North at the moment by a half-game over the Lions and a game over the Bears. Both Green Bay and Chicago have injury problems. Veteran Josh McCown will start for the Bears as Jay Cutler continues to nurse a groin injury. Bears' linebacker Lance Briggs is also out. The Chicago defense is not the powerhouse of recent years. They rank 31st in the N-F-L in sack percentage, with a total of nine sacks. The Bears were 11th in that department a year ago. The Packers' receiving offense has bent due to injuries to James Jones, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley. But the Green Bay running game has stepped up with a solid rookie year from Eddie Lacy and James Starks' return last week from a knee injury. Jones remains questionable for tonight.
The Wisconsin Badgers remain a dark horse for a BCS Bowl berth. The Badgers are again 24th in the new BCS Standings, following their 28-9 victory at Iowa yesterday. Wisconsin remains a game behind unbeaten Ohio State in the Big Ten. The Badgers rose one place to 21st in the new A-P media poll, and they jumped one spot to 22nd in the USA Today coaches' survey. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he was most impressed with the Badger defense. He said they made it hard for the Hawkeyes to move the ball consistently. The Iowa offense was held to 294 total yards on Saturday, its second-lowest of the season. The Wisconsin offense also remains strong -- third in the Big Ten in scoring, with just over 38 points a game. The Badgers will host a non-conference game on Saturday against BYU.
U-W Whitewater remains at Number-six in the new national Division-Three poll from D-Three-Football-Dot-Com. The undefeated Warhawks took sole possession of first place in the W-I-A-C with a 35-to-16 Homecoming win over U-W Platteville. The Pioneers suffered their first loss and dropped from 8th to 11th in the new poll at 7-and-1 overall. U-W Oshkosh moved up two places to 8th, after a 35-to-20 win over Stevens Point. Mount Union of Ohio is still in the top spot at 8-and-0.
Matt Kenseth of Cambridge dropped back to second in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup with two races left. Kenseth recovered from a speeding penalty on pit-road, to finish fourth in yesterday's Triple-"A" Texas-500 in Fort Worth. Jimmie Johnson won the race, leading for 255-of-the-334 laps. Johnson moved back into sole possession of first place in the Chase standings with 23-hundred-42 points. Kenseth is second, at seven points back. Paul Menard of Eau Claire, who started fourth, finished 15th. He remains in 17th in Sprint Cup standings for the year. Beloit-born Danica Patrick took 25th at Fort Worth, and she moved up three places in the point totals to 25th. Travis Kvapil of Janesville took 31st yesterday. He remains 32nd for the year. The Sprint Cup circuit wraps up its schedule next weekend in Phoenix, and the week after near Miami.
After three games, Milwaukee Bucks' coach Larry Drew admits having a hard time setting a rotation -- but he says he can't do anything until his two point guards return. Drew hopes starter Brandon Knight can be ready for the team's next game on Wednesday night at home against Cleveland. Backup point guard Luke Ridnour is still out with a sore back. While Gary Neal and rookie Nate Wolters share time at the point, Drew says other players are being forced out of their natural positions -- like forwards Caron Butler and Khris Middleton. Meanwhile, center Larry Sanders tells N-B-A-Dot-Com he's not getting enough playing time. He had foul trouble in the season opener at New York, and struggled against his opposing centers in Friday night's win at Boston and Saturday's home-opening loss to Toronto. Sanders said quote, "When you sit the last three-quarters of each game, I can't have carryover -- and it's hard." Drew says the larger centers pose problems for Sanders. The coach also says Sanders is trying to learn his new system, and new teammates. For now, Drew says he wants Sanders to play with energy -- and the other things will fall into place.
The Wisconsin women's basketball team topped Division-Two Winona State 80-to-49 in an exhibition game in Madison yesterday. Seven Badgers scored. Redshirt junior Michala Johnson had 24 points in 24 minutes, as the Badgers shot 51-and-a-half percent. Fifth-year senior Taylor Wurtz had eight points in her first game since missing most of last season with a back injury. Kate Hartman scored 12 for Winona State, which shot 34-percent. The Badgers will have a second exhibition contest on Thursday night at home against Division-Three U-W Stevens Point.
The U-W Milwaukee women crushed Division-Three Wisconsin Lutheran 89-to-62 yesterday. The game was tied at 36 at the half before the Panthers pulled away. Five Milwaukee players scored in double figures, led by Angela Rodriguez with 23. Jenna Swopshire had 11 rebounds to go with her 17 points. Kristen Schultz scored 14 for Wisconsin Lutheran.
In hockey, the Milwaukee Admirals won at Iowa yesterday 5-to-2. Milwaukee remains the only American Hockey League team not to have a regulation loss yet. Mark Van Guilder had a goal and two assists, as Milwaukee improved to 6-0-2-and-0. Goal-tender Marek Mazanec had 28 saves for the Admirals. He improved to 5-and-0 on the young season.
The Wisconsin women's hockey edged Ohio State 3-to-2 yesterday in Madison. The second-ranked Badgers have won six straight, after a two-game sweep of the Number-10 Buckeyes. Junior Blayre Turnbull scored twice, as Wisconsin improved to 6-and-2 in the W-C-H-A and 8-and-2 overall. The Badgers are now 51-9-and-6 lifetime against their conference rivals from Columbus.
Wisconsin ended a string of 14 Big Ten men's cross country titles yesterday. The Badgers placed third in the conference meet at Purdue. Indiana won its first men's championship since 1980, with 51 team points. Michigan was second with 66. Wisconsin had 71 points, its highest since 1980. The Badgers did claim the individual crown. Redshirt freshman Malachy Schrobilgen won the gold medal with a time of 24 minutes, 16-point-9 seconds. He was the third Badger in the last four years to win the individual title. Michael Van Voorhis was the second-best Badger, placing 13th. On the women's side, Wisconsin tied for sixth with 158 points. Michigan State won its second league title in three years, with 43 points. Emma-Lisa Murphy was the top Wisconsin finisher for the women. She was 17th in 21:28-point-two. Erin Finn of Michigan took first in 20:48-point-three.
In golf, Rhinelander native Dan Forsman finished 37th for the year on the P-G-A senior Champions Tour. That's after he placed 29th at the Charles Schawb Cup finals in San Francisco. Forsman shot a five-over-par 76 in his fourth-and-final round yesterday, to finish at five-over-292. His final standing of 37th was two places higher than before the tournament began. Fred Couples won the event at 17-under-267. Kenny Perry won the Schwab Cup season title with 32-hundred-73 points. Forsman had 284 points with three-Top-10 showings during the year.