MADISON, Wis. — Chris Orr talks. A lot.
He talks so much and so loudly and so passionately that if someone were to tell us that a player was speaking candidly–and perhaps, a little boldly–about what he expected to happen on the field between No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 11 Michigan ahead of their matchup at Camp Randall on Saturday, no one could blame us for thinking it could have been Orr.
But you know what they say about assumptions…
It was, in fact, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson who was quoted in the week leading up to Wisconsin’s 35-14 win as saying, “we’re just looking to go out there and make a statement, simple as that.”
Arguably, nothing too inflammatory. But Orr was bothered.
You see, this is the second time in two games that an opponent has waded into the territory of dissing the Badgers–Central Michigan head coach Jim McElwain said “they (UW) have no idea what’s about to come” before traveling to Camp Randall on Sept. 7.
It was the second time in two games Orr felt like his squad was being disrespected.
And it was the second time in two games that, despite having a frequent, loud, passionate voice, he let his performance on the field do the talking and kept his reactions to himself.
At least, until after the game when asked about it.
“It truly is disrespectful people saying, ‘we’re gonna come in and show out against y’all, we gonna run the score up against y’all,'” Orr said after the game.
“Come on now, show us some respect. We show everybody respect–no matter who we play, never take a game for granted, never take an opponent for granted.”
Through two games, the Badgers more than earned that respect, having climbed their way up to the No. 1 slot in total defense. And against Michigan, they only furthered that agenda.
The entire first half, the Badgers’ defense didn’t allow the Wolverines a single point, nor did they let them even get all that close. Meanwhile, the home team stacked one touchdown on another, and took a 28-0 lead into the locker room. By the end of the game, the Wolverines would have just 299 total yards of offense and 14 points, making this victory Wisconsin’s second-largest over Michigan.
Orr himself had a tackle plus two pass breakups and a pair of quarterback hurries en-route to a defensive effort that held Patterson to just 17 completions on 42 attempts. The Badgers as a team intercepted the Wolverines twice, forced three fumbles, prevented them from converting a single third down, and limited their offense to 18:53 on the field.
If not respect now, then when?
“I think going into this game,” Zack Baun said, post-win, “no one wanted to tell us we had the best defense in the nation. No one wanted to tell us we had the best O-line, the best running back.”
“I think that was a statement we wanted to make: that we do have the best team in the nation.”
Orr knows better than most why no team, ranked or unranked, winning or losing record, should be discounted the way he’s felt the Badgers have tended to be.
“There’s ball players everywhere,” Orr said. “Central Michigan has put out great players. My brother went to University of North Texas–they’re a non-power five and he was an All-Pro linebacker. Good players are everywhere, so we don’t disrespect anybody in that sense.”
“Hopefully this [win] gives us some respect,” Orr added.
But if the haters do continue to show up, or Wisconsin’s name gets left out of conversations about the nation’s best, well, this program has some experience with using that to their advantage.
“I see this team as similar [to the 2017 team],” Baun said. “We’re feeling pretty strong.”
“[This is] probably as motivated as I’ve ever seen this team, besides that 2017 team.”
Motivation carried that team all the way to 13-1.