⭐ Big Five Games - Week 6, 2017 ⭐
1. Clinton (5-0) at Turner (5-0) - Rock Valley
2. Oregon (3-2) at Stoughton (5-0) - Badger South (Airing on The Big 1070)
3. Lodi (5-0) at Lakeside Lutheran (4-1) - Capitol North
4. Madison Memorial (2-3) at Sun Prairie (5-0) - Big Eight
5. Portage (2-3) at Beaver Dam (2-3) - Badger North
⭐ = BIG FIVE SPOTLIGHT
✔ = PLAYOFF CLINCHING SCENARIO
Big 8 (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
Verona (3-2) at Madison La Follette (3-2): Both teams have matching two-game losing streaks, so which one can stop the bleeding? And which team will drop three in a row? With the conference title now probably off the table, it's time to push for the playoffs for both squads. Verona's defense looks to get back to form, but the Lancers have some weapons at their disposal.
Madison Memorial (2-3) at #3/#4 Sun Prairie (5-0): Despite an 0-3 start, the Spartans still have a shot at the playoffs if they sweep the Janesville schools and Beloit Memorial, even with a loss Friday. Sun Prairie presents a formidable challenge, but Madison Memorial has faced some very good teams already. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been absolutely rolling in every game so far, with a fantastic defense leading the way, and some balance now offensively as depth builds at the running back position.
Janesville Craig (2-3) at Beloit Memorial (1-4): Beloit Memorial will get a good chance here to prove that they are indeed a team on the rise and one to watch perhaps into next year if they can get by the Cougars here and put together a few wins after going nearly four years without a conference victory. Craig, meanwhile, could get to .500 and put itself in a solid position to sneak into the playoffs, perhaps even clinch a spot with an upset or two. This may be one of the better contests in Week 6.
#10/UR Middleton (4-1) at Janesville Parker (1-4): Middleton's line play has been dominant in their past three games, after letting the Sun Prairie game slip away in the final 18 minutes or so back in week two. The Cardinals are on a tear. Parker needs to win out to clinch a playoff spot, but it won't be easy against a rejuvenated Middleton team that has looked every part the contender they were projected to be, despite some heavy injury losses earlier in the season.
Madison East (0-5) at Madison West (4-1): Madison West's celebration of the 1977 state title team might pale in comparison to the fact that the Regents could wrap up a playoff spot in week six, with their only setback a pasting at the hands of a surging Middleton Cardinals team that took apart Verona in the second half last week. The Purgolders are taking this season to build a culture and while it hasn't resulted in any victories on the field, there are usually growing pains when there's a coaching change.
Badger North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
Portage (2-3, 2-1) at Beaver Dam (2-3, 2-1): The winner of this game will be a step away from the playoffs, and should be a fun battle for the teams separated by 40 miles of Highway 33. Portage has experienced a solid start to the turnaround under Bob Hepp, while Beaver Dam has earned some tough wins with a better-than-average defense coming in from the now-defunct Little Ten.
Reedsburg (1-4, 1-2) at #9/#8 Mount Horeb/Barneveld (4-1, 2-1): While the Vikings continue to rebound nicely from their loss against Waunakee, Reedsburg has struggled a bit this season. Reedsburg needs to win one of their two games against the Vikings or next week against Waunakee to stay eligible for the postseason, so their playoffs begin tonight. Mount Horeb/Barneveld's balance on offense will be a handful for any team they see the rest of the way. This is Mount Horeb/Barneveld's Homecoming.
DeForest (3-2, 2-1) at Baraboo (0-5, 0-3): Baraboo needs to win out to make the playoffs, while DeForest has come on strong since an early-season loss to Oregon (and a setback against Waunakee). Baraboo hasn't been able to keep up with the firepower of the teams they've played so far, and DeForest can score in bunches. Baraboo will try to pull the upset on Homecoming.
Sauk Prairie (1-4, 0-3) at #1/#3 Waunakee (5-0, 3-0): If Sauk Prairie wants to make the playoffs, they'll need to pull a huge upset of the Waunakee Warriors to start that playoff run. Waunakee will clinch a playoff spot with a victory. Plenty has been said and written about the Warriors, but there is no way to otherwise state how they've dominated every opponent this year so far, with the exception of Mount Horeb/Barneveld to some degree (although the Warriors were able to overcome double-digit penalties for over 100 yards in that one). It's also Homecoming for Waunakee.
Badger South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
Oregon (3-2, 2-1) at #9/UR Stoughton (5-0, 3-0): Our Madison Taxi Game of the Week, Oregon looks like it has come all the way back from an injury-marred 2016 campaign. After an impressive win over Milton, the Panthers will get the undefeated Vikings. Stoughton has used stellar defense and an offense with some real home-run threats to take down all five opponents thus far, and with a win would clinch a playoff spot. You can see our full preview at the top of this article.
#6/#9 Monona Grove (5-0, 3-0) at Monroe (2-3, 1-2): Last year, one of the oft-cited facts of the Silver Eagles' run to state was that they didn't win their own conference. Don't think that won't be a motivating factor in this one. Monroe lost a tough one against Stoughton last week, but will have a different sort of challenge in Monona Grove this week amidst a difficult stretch of schedule. Monona Grove clinches a playoff spot with a win. Monroe will try to get its offense going after being shut down against Stoughton a week ago.
Watertown (3-2, 2-1) at Milton (3-2, 1-2): When it comes to the playoff race, this one will loom large for each team. Watertown has higher aspirations, as they still face the conference's leading teams and could, by winning out, earn no less than a share of the conference championship, but they'll have to take care of business against a traditionally difficult Red Hawks program. Milton saw last week's game against Oregon slip away in the second half in a 41-6 drubbing.
Fort Atkinson (1-4, 0-3) at Edgewood (0-5, 0-3): One team will be eliminated from playoff contention next Friday. Edgewood looked better in their close loss to Watertown last week. Both teams have been blown out by Monona Grove. This could be a fantastic game with both programs looking to keep their seasons alive. Fort Atkinson can rack up the points, while Edgewood has reaped the benefits of having Jack McNeil developing at quarterback this season after having played tight end for his career. McNeil is one of the most talented arms in southern Wisconsin, although he lacks experience at the position. It's Edgewood's Homecoming.
Capitol North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#3/#2 Lodi (5-0, 1-0) at Lakeside Lutheran (4-1, 1-0): Lodi will return to Lake Mills to take on one of the area's most underrated teams in Lakeside Lutheran. Although the Blue Devils have played a difficult schedule, this one looms as a crucial contest as Lakeside Lutheran might be the prime challenger to the Capitol North title. Lakeside Lutheran still has a showdown with Lake Mills looming as well, and they've taken that match-up in some recent seasons.
#9/#10 Lake Mills (4-1, 0-1) at Luther Prep (4-1, 1-0): Luther Prep's loss was to St. Mary's Springs, so you can forgive them for having a blemish on their record. It's no time for Lake Mills to wallow in defeat either, since the trip to Watertown will present a difficult challenge for the L-Cats. With only five games on the Capitol North schedule, a second loss would put Lake Mills into do-or-die mode the rest of the way, which only six days ago seemed nearly unthinkable that Lake Mills could go from fourth-ranked in the state to playing with their backs against the wall.
Poynette (2-3, 0-1) at Columbus (1-4, 0-1): One of these teams will get back on track this week. Poynette is certainly hoping to get one past the Cardinals, who were 11-1 last year. The losing team will have to win out to make the playoffs, so again in a situation in which there's only five conference games in the Capitol North, every single game looms large.
Capitol South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
Waterloo (2-3, 0-1) at Belleville (4-1, 1-0): Belleville can become playoff eligible (and likely in to the playoffs) with a win over last year's second-place team in the conference. Waterloo, by falling to 0-2, would need to win their final two conference games to be playoff eligible. Waterloo suffered some big graduation losses from last year, while Belleville brought back several of its primary skill position players. While that doesn't always spell success, the Wildcats are motivated by missing the playoffs in 2016 despite a winning record, which they would clinch (on both fronts) with a W on Homecoming.
New Glarus/Monticello (2-3, 0-1) at Marshall (2-3, 0-0): It goes without saying that every conference game looms extremely large with no room for error: one loss means you need to win out to clinch a playoff spot. Marshall opens conference play against last year's conference champs, while New Glarus/Monticello needs to rebound from a tough loss to Belleville last week to open up conference play. Marshall has played a brutal schedule, so the 2-3 record belies how good the Cardinals are. It's also Marshall's Homecoming.
Darlington (0-5) at Cambridge (4-1, 1-0): Darlington, fresh off of four straight trips to Camp Randall Stadium, is now clinging to shreds of hope for a playoff berth. Cambridge, meanwhile, is dedicating the home field to Bob Nodolf, their longtime football coach who led the program from 1969 until 2000, in this game. It should be a big event regardless of the records. Neither team can advance their playoff agenda, nor be eliminated, but this is an important game for both schools.
Rock Valley (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#3/#11 Clinton (5-0) at #8/UR Turner (5-0): Clinton plays in nothing but big games, but has rolled past the top competition in the Rock Valley so far. Turner, meanwhile, has achieved a big goal in clinching a playoff spot. Now, they stand as one of the last teams to deny a conference title to Clinton, while looking to possibly secure one for themselves. Easily one of the biggest games in the area, if not the entire state, Clinton's state-leading rushing attack will have to counter the play-making of the Trojans, who boast the Reyes brothers (Juan and Nano) and their ability to put up points from anywhere.
Jefferson (4-1) at East Troy (4-1): How about this one for a Rock Valley undercard: one of these squads will clinch a playoff spot with three weeks to go. Jefferson just got a taste of Clinton's incredible run game, and now will see East Troy's version of it this week. East Troy will need to grind it out like they did against Whitewater to pick up a huge victory late in the season and solidify their rise to the top shelf of the Rock Valley. While the Trojans are sort of a sleeper from the conference, Jefferson was widely regarded as one of (and for some coaches, the) teams to beat, especially because of the Eagles' defense.
Big Foot (1-4) at McFarland (2-3): If either team has playoff hopes, this game will either put them a step closer to their goal, or put them nearly on the outside looking in. Big Foot was pegged as a conference title contender, but has played some difficult teams early on. McFarland is on a two-game losing streak, having narrowly lost last week to a desperate Brodhead/Juda team. The Spartans will face desperation once again as they turn the page from a close loss last week, as Big Foot will use Jackson Enz and their big play threats to keep their season going. This is McFarland's Homecoming.
Brodhead/Juda (1-4) at Edgerton (1-4): The losing team will not be guaranteed a playoff spot, so for Brodhead/Juda, with their 25-year playoff appearance streak on the line, this game looms large. Edgerton has been feisty in their games so far, but with much of their talent still in the sophomore and junior class, it may be next year before they can go from fun to contender. Still, a win here would accelerate that timetable a bit, and for the Cardinals, spell a possible end to that quarter-century-long playoff streak.
Evansville/Albany (2-3) at Whitewater (0-5): Evansville/Albany has some battle scars courtesy of tangling with three of the top four teams in the conference, but has played Clinton the closest of anyone so far and even at 2-3 won't be taken lightly. Whitewater held East Troy to 17 points last week, which, while a moral victory, shows that the Whippets haven't rolled over. Their slim playoff chances will be exhausted with a loss here, while Evansville/Albany would like to keep some margin for error as they make their run late in the season behind the arm of Zach Mielke.
Trailways Large: Dodgeland (2-3, 1-1) at Parkview (0-5, 0-3): Parkview needs a win here, or they are eliminated from playoff contention.
Trailways Small: #6/UR Johnson Creek (5-0, 3-0) at UR/#10 Fall River (4-1, 3-0): The winning team in this big-time clash will clinch a playoff spot and take sole possession of first place in the conference.
Trailways Small: Deerfield (1-4, 1-2) at Wayland Academy (0-3, 0-3): Playoff elimination looms for Wayland Academy if they drop this game, which could be their best shot at a win so far in 2017 after going 0-6 as an independent last year.
Great 8: #2/UR Oakfield (5-0, 2-0) at #9 Wisconsin Heights (2-2, 1-0) (Thursday): If you're looking for a showcase of 8-player football, it doesn't get much better than the Oaks heading west to take on the Vanguards. While Oakfield appears to be on track for the top Jamboree spot (and face Luck, potentially), the Vanguards have proven to be a difficult out for the teams they've played so far this year.
Great 8: Rockford Christian Life (IL) (0-3, 0-0) at #10/UR Abundant Life/St Ambrose (3-2, 1-1): RCL has scored just 25 points in three games while giving up 95, so there's a chance the Challengers could get back into the win column after dropping a pair of games this season.