The No. 1 University of Wisconsin-Madison women’s hockey team (23-2-1, 13-2-1 WCHA) has only spent five weeks of the season not atop the USCHO.com rankings. The team taking their place at No. 1 for those five weeks was none other than rival Minnesota (20-4-3, 12-4-2 WCHA).Earlier in the season, the Badgers and Gophers matched up in Minneapolis for a series that saw Wisconsin grab only one out of a possible six standings points and give up the top spot in the rankings for the first time all season. That meant the Badgers were seeking revenge at LaBahn Arena this past weekend, and they definitely found what they were looking for.Women’s Hockey: Badgers advance into 2020 with comparatively dominant recordWisconsin’s women’s hockey team (20-1-1) is setting themselves up for yet another deep postseason run. There is no doubt the Read…In the opening game of the series, Wisconsin came out with a lot of energy from the sold-out crowd in Madison and grabbed the first goal of the game courtesy of senior Abby Roque. This stood as the only goal of the opening frame, as the Badgers led 1–0 heading into the second period. Minnesota responded with a goal of their own in the second period to knot the game up at 1–1. But the second half of the period was dominated by the Badgers as they responded with three straight goals, including two from Roque to complete the hat trick, the second of her career. Heading into the third, Wisconsin held all the momentum with a 4–1 lead, but Minnesota would not back down. The Gophers carried the play in the final frame, leading to three goals to tie the game. The game would remain tied through the remainder of regulation, leading to a sudden-death overtime period.In overtime, Sophie Shirley cut to the front of the Minnesota crease and deposited a pass past the Minnesota goalie to win the game for the Badgers in overtime, 5–4.Women’s Hockey: Badgers reclaim No. 1 national ranking after Country Classic victoryAfter three weeks sitting at the No. 2 spot in the national rankings, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team Read…The second game of the series yielded a scoreless first period behind strong starts by each goaltender. In the second period, Wisconsin got a pair of goals from senior Presley Norby to snag a 2–0 lead going into the second intermission.In the third period, Kristen Campbell continued her stellar play, stopping eight more shots on her way to a 22-save shutout, her sixth of the season. The Badgers added another goal from Daryl Watts in the third period to cap off the 3–0 win and the weekend sweep of the Gophers.This was the final regular-season matchup against Minnesota for the Badgers, a team they are likely to see again in the postseason. Wisconsin will be back in action at LaBahn Arena next week for a showdown with the St. Cloud State Huskies, a team the Badgers swept on the road earlier in the season.
After a vicious September, the Trojan football team was treated to a much friendlier October. Whether it was an easier schedule, a change at quarterback, a blitzing defense or a combination of all of these factors, the Trojans took care of business throughout this month. The Trojans’ schedule this month was definitely an advantage compared to Cal’s, which draws attention to a larger problem within the Pac-12.They did what they had to do, which was beat inferior teams. The victory against Cal followed a familiar script, albeit with an improved rushing attack. It is hard to tell whether or not sophomore running backs Ronald Jones II and Aca’Cedric Ware have found their groove, or if Cal’s run defense was just abysmal. More than anything else, redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold continues to add a new dimension to his game every week. Although he overthrew junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster early on a deep ball, he was significantly more accurate on deep throws than in his previous start against Arizona. His rapport not just with Smith-Schuster, but with receivers sophomore Deontay Burnett and senior Darreus Rogers and tight end redshirt freshman Daniel Imatorbhebhe improves each week.If he has one flaw that needs extra attention, especially before Washington, it is his penchant for fumbling. While the turnovers do hurt the momentum of the game, it is Darnold’s exciting style of play that has gotten the Trojans this far. Whatever Darnold gives up with his fumbles, he more than compensates for by extending drives with his feet and improvisational skills. After four straight victories, I think an occasional fumble is a fairly small price to pay for the masterpieces he orchestrates with his unique brand of quarterbacking.Other than Darnold’s continued ascent and the brilliance of other skill position players like Rogers and junior three-way player Adoree’ Jackson, the Trojans’ performance offered more of the same. This welcomed consistency left plenty of time to notice an inexcusable error by the Pac-12 conference.It is great for USC to win, and I am confident they would have still run through Cal if the Golden Bears were fresh, but there was no need for the Pac-12 to schedule Cal on a Thursday night against a team coming off a bye. This time it favored the Trojans, but luck has a way of reverting back to the mean, and one day commissioner Larry Scott’s disregard for player safety and welfare will haunt the Trojans. With less time to rest and prepare for their next game, the chance of injury increases.Thursday night was another example of the Pac-12’s, and by extension the NCAA’s, hypocrisy regarding the well-being of student athletes. The only reason Cal was in this predicament was because of the TV deal struck by Scott with ESPN and FOX a few years ago. While a landmark deal was great for the conference as a whole, the TV deal didn’t exactly do the Trojans any favors.The TV money is great for Washington State up in Pullman and Oregon State in Corvallis, but USC is a marquee program whose brand recognition generates way more revenue for the conference than they receive in an equally distributed share. That is why watching the Trojans on Thursday was so frustrating; because the roles could have been just as easily reversed.It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point though, as neither the NCAA nor the Pac-12 care about anything other than TV and sponsorship money. This is the same NCAA that unjustly leveled crippling sanctions on the Trojans. Disregarding the blatant bias in that ruling, the sanctions put the health of USC players at risk in the 2013 season when they fielded an NFL-sized roster for certain games.This is the same Pac-12 that didn’t defend USC against the sanctions once Oregon and Stanford became the primary brands of the conference. It’s also the same conference that has engineered technological innovation to allow the widely recognized eager Utah and Colorado fan bases in Shanghai, China to watch the Utes and Buffaloes on the Pac-12 network, but cannot strike a deal with Direct TV. Time and time again, the Pac-12 and NCAA have let down players and teams by focusing solely on their TV deals. This time it didn’t cost USC, and actually helped them. However, much like the NCAA sanctions unfairly penalized the Trojans, inequity ultimately affects every team.It would behoove the powers that be at USC and other major conference power brands to flex their might and force some changes from Larry Scott and company for scheduling games as well as the next TV deals and beyond. Or else in a few years USC might have a potential playoff trip ruined by a scheduling commitment beyond the team’s control. Jake Davidson is a senior majoring in accounting. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” runs Mondays.