⭐ Big Five Games - Week 8, 2017 ⭐
1. Monona Grove (7-0) at Stoughton (7-0) - Badger South (Airing on The Big 1070)
2. Sun Prairie (7-0) at Verona (5-2) - Big 8
3. DeForest (5-2) at Mount Horeb/Barneveld (6-1) - Badger North
4. Watertown (4-3) at Oregon (4-3) - Badger South
5. Lodi (7-0) at Luther Prep (5-2) - Capitol North
Honorable Mention: Madison West (5-2) at Janesville Craig (4-3), Belleville (5-2) at Cuba City (5-2), Turner (5-2) at East Troy (4-3)
Big 8 (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#3/#4 Sun Prairie (7-0) at Verona (5-2): Sun Prairie clinches a share of the Big 8 with a victory. Verona can be a near-lock to host a playoff game if they can topple the Cardinals. Verona's had trouble with consistency offensively this season, with only really a couple of games where it was really clicking both in the pass and run. Moving the ball against Sun Prairie is difficult, but it's the key for Verona. Sun Prairie will need to stay sharp passing the ball, although with a deep stable of running backs, it's hard to fault the Cardinals for pounding away with the ground game.
Madison West (5-2) at Janesville Craig (4-3): It'll be a playoff-like atmosphere when West meets Craig, as both teams are very likely in to the playoff field. However, Craig needs a win to clinch that playoff spot (although if they lose their remaining two games, they're still almost certainly in at 4-5). Craig hangs their hat on their defense, which will need to be ready for a team that runs 80% of the time. West finds success on corners and seams, and if the Cougars crowd the box, watch out. West will try to shorten this game as they are playing with a little over two dozen varsity players this week by keeping the chains moving.
Madison East (0-7) at Madison La Follette (3-4): La Follette can likely secure a playoff berth with a victory against winless East, but that doesn't mean that the Purgolders are going to roll over and let the Lancers take it. In a battle of former stadium-mates at Lussier Stadium, East will be trying to see if their program-building this season is starting to pay off. Coach Jeremy Thornton returns to the field he starred at as a former quarterback at East. La Follette will look to end a four-game losing streak on Friday night.
Beloit Memorial (2-5) at #8/#14 Middleton (6-1): This is a playoff game for Beloit Memorial: If they win out, they're likely into the playoffs. Middleton, however, has been on a tear since losing in Week 2, as they were a little short-handed against the very good Sun Prairie Cardinals. Middleton is not a team anyone wants to see this late in the year, rolling along and getting healthy at the right time. For the Purple Knights, two Big 8 victories qualifies as a big step forward, but the opportunity is there for them to make the playoffs by winning out.
Janesville Parker (1-6) at Madison Memorial (2-5): Like Beloit Memorial, who the Spartans will see next week, Madison Memorial has strong playoff aspirations. 4-5 is nearly a lock to get in to the postseason. They'll have to get past the Vikings of Janesville Parker, who have struggled through a season in which they attemped to replace about 85% of their starting lineup from a solid team from a year ago. Madison Memorial will need to win out to make the playoffs.
Badger North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
DeForest (5-2, 4-1) at #7/#6 Mount Horeb/Barneveld (6-1, 4-1): While a conference title is a longshot at this point, home playoff games will be important in deep D2/D3 fields this year. This game will likely guarantee a home playoff game for the victor in whichever division they end up in. DeForest has lost to strong playoff contender Oregon, and both have lost to conference-leading Waunakee. Mount Horeb/Barneveld gets another key game on their home field.
Portage (2-5, 2-3) at Reedsburg (1-6, 1-4): Even at 1-4, Reedsburg can win out and make a run at the playoffs, courtesy of a playoff field that will be looking for a dozen-ish sub-.500 conference teams to round out the field. So, this game is a playoff game for each school. Portage getting a third win ahead of their Week 9 match-up with DeForest places them squarely on the playoff bubble, while also eliminating Reedsburg from contention. Reedsburg has winless Baraboo next week, so to give themselves that slim chance for a playoff spot, they'll have to win out.
Sauk Prairie (2-5, 1-4) at Beaver Dam (3-4, 3-2): Like Reedsburg, Sauk Prairie needs to win out to make it into the tiebreaker group for a playoff spot. Unlike Reedsburg, the Eagles will have to do it against Beaver Dam (already on the playoff bubble) this week, and then upset Mount Horeb/Barneveld next Friday. Beaver Dam locks in that playoff spot with a W here, but if they lose, they'll need to upset Waunakee next Friday in order to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. There's a good chance they will play Waunakee in back-to-back weeks if they get into the playoffs too, as a likely #7 or #8 seed.
#1/#3 Waunakee (7-0, 5-0) at Baraboo (0-7, 0-5): Waunakee clinches a share of the conference title with a win. For the Warriors, winning out gets them a slight advantage to claim a top seed in the playoffs, even if they are tied with Stoughton or Monona Grove record-wise if they end up in the same D2 region. Their cause would be bolstered if more than only DeForest and Mount Horeb/Barneveld made the playoffs from the conference. However, Monona Grove and Stoughton are squarely on the D3 cut line, so it may not be an argument to have.
Badger South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#5/#8 Monona Grove (7-0, 5-0) at #7/#13 Stoughton (7-0, 5-0): Our Madison Taxi Game of the Week, the winning team claims a share of the conference championship. A longer preview is above. Stoughton can claim a conference championship for the first time in over 40 years, while Monona Grove could pick up the program's 400th all-time victory. History at stake in this Badger South epic.
Watertown (4-3, 3-2) at Oregon (4-3, 3-2): How about this for an undercard in the Badger South: The winning team clinches a playoff spot. Watertown is reeling a bit, having run into some difficult late-season competition, but Oregon has already faced off against both Monona Grove and Stoughton. While both teams are on the bubble for the playoffs even without winning another game, the winning team is a guaranteed entry. Both have difficult opponents next week (Watertown at Monona Grove, Oregon at Monroe), so the urgency is high here.
Edgewood (0-7, 0-5) at Monroe (3-4, 2-3): Monroe needs a win to get into the playoff discussion this week, as the third win puts them in with a whole bunch of other projected 3-4 squads seeking entry to the playoffs. Edgewood has been frisky in most of their games, and will look to put their rough season behind them by sending the seniors out with a win over the defending conference champions.
Milton (3-4, 1-4) at Fort Atkinson (2-5, 1-4): Both teams need to win out to have even a slim chance to make the playoffs, so this is a knockout round game. Milton has lost four straight after starting 3-0. Fort Atkinson has displayed their usual knack for being a tough out, even for the games in which they've lost. Milton gets Edgewood next week while Fort Atkinson gets Stoughton, so there's a slightly easier path for the Red Hawks to make the playoffs with a win on Friday, if they can get another one next week.
Capitol North (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
#2/#1 Lodi (7-0, 3-0) at Luther Prep (5-2, 2-1): Lodi clinches a share of the conference title--and probably secures a home playoff game if it wasn't already a given--with a win here. Luther Prep has played an impressive schedule though, so this is by no means a breeze for the Blue Devils. The Phoenix' two losses have come to St Mary's Springs and Lake Mills, both top-five teams in the state in their divisions.
Lakeside Lutheran (4-3, 1-2) at Columbus (2-5, 1-2): This is a knockout game as a 2-3 record will not get a team into the playoffs. Lakeside Lutheran has now played the two top teams in the conference, and will wrap up the season with a possible win-or-go-home game against Luther Prep next Friday night. Columbus can still save their season by winning out, but it has to start Friday night.
#5/#9 Lake Mills (6-1, 2-1) at Poynette (2-5, 0-3): Lake Mills earns entry to the playoffs with a win, and sets them up for a push to a crucial #2 or #3 seed in an eight-team grouping that will almost certainly include Lodi in Division 4. That would mean that Lake Mills could avoid the Blue Devils until Level 3 if each team advance to that stage.
Capitol South (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
Marshall (2-5, 0-2) at Cambridge (5-2, 2-0): Marshall's long playoff streak is on the line here, as they will have to take down conference-leading Cambridge to set up a win-or-go-home Week 9 game against Belleville, who is already playoff-eligible. For the Blue Jays, a win clinches a playoff spot and at least a share of the conference championship, one week after a huge win over Belleville.
New Glarus/Monticello (4-3, 1-1) at Waterloo (3-4, 1-2): The top two teams in the conference last year play for playoff spots this week, as the second win by either team makes them playoff-eligible (and with a dearth of .500 or better teams this year, they're in). If Waterloo loses, they are eliminated from playoff contention.
Belleville (5-2, 2-1) at #5/UR Cuba City (5-2, 5-0): A tough loss last week for the Wildcats means they will have to wait one more week to clinch a playoff spot, although they already likely have it in hand courtesy of having two conference victories. Cuba City is a very good D5 team, and should present a good challenge for Belleville's big linemen and outstanding linebackers.
Rock Valley (Rankings are WSN Coaches Poll/AP Poll)
Turner (5-2) at East Troy (4-3): While Turner is in and East Troy is (almost certainly) in, playoff seeding becomes important here as a win moves whichever Trojans team gets the victory up a peg in the playoff pecking order. Turner has dropped two straight against really solid competition, versus the top two teams in the conference, while East Troy has done so against the top three teams in the Rock Valley. Expect yards and points aplenty in this one.
Brodhead/Juda (2-5) at Evansville/Albany (4-3): Evansville/Albany is likely in to the playoffs even if they lose their remaining two games, but the Blue Devils are hot right now, having won four straight after navigating a difficult early part of the schedule. Brodhead/Juda's state-best 25-season playoff streak comes to an end if they lose either of their remaining two games, against likely playoff teams Evansville/Albany and East Troy.
#3/#13 Clinton (7-0) at Edgerton (2-5): Edgerton has playoff hopes if they can win out, but they play the best two teams in the conference record-wise to close out the year. Clinton clinches at least a share of the conference title by winning on Friday night.
Jefferson (6-1) at McFarland (2-5): McFarland will need to win out to make the playoffs, but the Spartans have played some incredibly tough games as of late. An overtime loss and a one-point loss are the difference right now between the playoffs and fighting for their lives against the difficult Jefferson Eagles. Jefferson can stay a game back of Clinton in the conference race at a minimum, but more importantly try to take an 8-1 record into a seeding meeting and hope for a home game in a pod that might include some really good Milwaukee suburban and Badger Conference teams depending on how the divisional cut lines break down.
Big Foot (2-5) at Whitewater (1-6): Big Foot's playoff hopes took a spill by losing last week to Edgerton. They'll need to win out to get into the playoffs. Whitewater already dealt a major blow to one team's playoff hopes last week with their first conference win in a year and a half. Can they do it again?