Montee Ball will not be able to pound the rock to victory in the Badgers' biggest game of the season. Mostly because he will be thousands of miles away when the contest most crucial to Wisconsin’s season is played.
The Badgers’ showdown with Nebraska in Lincoln, as well as their Big Ten title game rematch with Michigan State are important, but they all pale in comparison to the ramifications that the Michigan vs. Alabama game will have on Bucky’s season.
The SEC may be, as its supporters claim, the most dominant conference the world has ever seen, or may merely be perceived as such. It does not really matter, as perception is reality.
Currently any undefeated or one-loss SEC team is viewed as superior to any other undefeated or one-loss team not named USC. If Michigan prevails over Alabama, the aura of the SEC’s utter dominance may crumble.
Last season Alabama was deemed the second-best team in the land because its only loss was in conference to LSU. The consensus was that one loss in the SEC was significantly superior to any other loss.
A Michigan win would show that the SEC hype is less fact and more hyperbole. The shattering of the SEC myth would give Wisconsin a legitimate shot at the title game. Currently, with the rankings swarming with SEC teams, and the Badgers nestled in at No. 12, it is highly plausible that no matter how well Wisconsin plays, the crystal ball is out of reach.
For Wisconsin to have its best possible season, at least mild Big Ten-SEC parity needs to be achieved. Therefore a Michigan win is imperative.
If Michigan wins, the status quo instantly becomes absurd, an Alabama win will further cement the SEC’s supremacy. While Wisconsin trounces its traditional opening week patsy at Camp Randall, its season will hang it the balance at Cowboy Stadium.
This week's epic SEC-Big Ten showdown is forcing the Madison faithful into an awkward conundrum: what is best for Bucky happens to be a victory for the team wearing those atrocious maize and blue helmets.