The Wisconsin Badgers and little kids have something in common: They both love cream puffs.
Wisconsin is notorious for playing such tough nonconference opponents like the FCS's Northern Iowa Panthers. With the infinite wisdom of the BCS rewarding wins over crumby teams more than close losses to tough teams, the Badgers' cakewalk of a nonconference schedule was excusable. Change is coming though, and opening the 2013 season against such fearsome foes as UNLV may cost you in the final polls.
In all fairness, the Badgers are aware of how absurdly easy their nonconference schedule has become. They broke their all-patsies trend the past two years by scheduling a home-and-home series with Oregon State. They have also pursued series with Texas, Notre Dame and Alabama. While the Texas and Notre Dame deals seem to have fallen apart because of logistics, Alabama apparently refused to play Wisconsin if it meant they would have to travel to Camp Randall.
Of course Alabama has the right to refuse coming up north to play a Big Ten football team at home. Calculating supercomputer Nick Saban realized a trip to Madison offered very little value. However, the SEC bills itself as the king of college football, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world—and a king needs to defend its crown.
Wisconsin needs to boost its nonconference schedule, and to do that, it needs to book the best programs in the country. If those teams will not agree to play Wisconsin in Madison in a home-and-home series, maybe it is time loquacious athletic director Barry Alvarez sell that narrative to the media. While the SEC loves winning, it also loves its reputation as the best conference in the country and would most likely defend its title if it was called out.
I am not saying Wisconsin would easily dispatch any and all SEC teams. It is very possible that even middling SEC teams could come into Madison and steamroll the Badgers. But it's about time we stopped theorizing about these questions and started getting actual proof.
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