It's finally here, folks. The first BCS rankings of the college football season.
Entering the season, plenty of expectations were placed on the 2010 Wisconsin Badgers team.
Be the best rushing attack in the Big Ten.
Show your offensive line is the strongest in the country.
Scott Tolzien needs to prove he's still the most efficient passer in the Big Ten.
John Clay needs a Heisman.
All of these aspirations, and the hype that came with them, built up the Badgers as a top 10 team through Week 4.
Week 5, however, the No. 11 Badgers fell to the Michigan State Spartans.
Clay has been slowed by injury. His backup James White, a true freshman, is showing the nation just how electric he is, averaging nearly eight yards per carry. Both stepped up big in Saturday's win over Ohio State.
For head coach Bret Bielema and the Badgers, the season has been a mixed bag so far.
They've held off injuries for the most part but have been wildly inconsistent. They nearly lost two out-of-conference games that should have been blowouts.
After their loss to Michigan State, they rebounded nicely, squaring up on and beating down rival Minnesota, 41-23 at Camp Randall.
Oh, and they played the role of David against Goliath nicely, beating former No. 1 Ohio State under the bright lights on Saturday
So, where do the Badgers go from here, entering BCS season?
Click "next" to find out where Wisconsin enters the BCS in the first poll.
The Badgers have put together a very respectable season thus far, with the only blemish coming in a defeat to the undefeated Big Ten co-leading Michigan State Spartans.
As a team, the Badgers struggled to be cohesive on offense and special teams earlier this year. Their play was either off sync or just wrong. A wide receiver would zig, while Tolzien thought they would zag, etc.
John Clay's ankles have been the talk of the season, when he'd have rather thought about his Heisman hopes coming into the year. He had an offseason surgery to repair his worn down ankles and never fully seemed "back" until this past game against Ohio State. He has totaled 796 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns this season, three of those scored coming against the Buckeyes.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien has been very effective this year for Wisconsin, passing for 1,353 yards and seven touchdowns, good enough to net a 159.29 efficiency rating.
The Badgers defense has been a question plenty of times this year, but it's certainly stepped up more times than not. The Badgers held off a threatening Arizona State team, with safety Jay Valai's blocked PAT which secured a 20-19 win, and now with the defense stepping up to the challenge of Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State's offensive attack.
I'm going to pretend there was some build up when you read the title of this slide.
It should be no surprise that the Badgers' best win came Saturday against the No. 1 team in the country, previously undefeated Ohio State.
Under the bright lights of Camp Randall for a night game on ESPN, the Badgers stepped up in a big way.
The defense, which has been the subject of questioning in recent weeks, stepped up to the challenge who's name is Terrelle Pryor. They bottled him up. Kept him uncomfortable in the passing game. JJ Watt showed all of his defensive skills, sacking Pryor multiple times on key downs.
The defense played against Pryor's passing attack well too. Pryor's passing was off rhythm all game, hitting only 14 of 28, for just 156 yards and an interception. His running game wasn't all that effective either, totaling just 56 yards on 18 attempts.
The Badgers got a very quality win over the Buckeyes and shook up the BCS nicely on Saturday, as well as the Big Ten.
With the release of the first BCS standings, Wisconsin's season can start to take shape going forward.
Who is ahead of them? Who's behind them?
Can they break into title contention?
The Badgers enter BCS season at No. 13, with a .535 BCS score.
Not bad, considering the Badgers have been rather inconsistent this season.
This ranking could rise though, as the Badgers (coming off of at home win against Ohio State) still have room to improve their ranking, if they can defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes in Kinnick this next Saturday.
The Badgers find themselves in the middle of the pack and that's pretty fair. They're behind Ohio State, whom they just beat and ahead of fellow Big Ten team Iowa at No. 15. The Badgers have a legitimate chance to completely ruin the BCS picture for them next week.
We can safely say, the Badgers are still playing meaningful games the rest of the way this season, as they are just outside the top 10.
The Badgers had a chance to enter conference play strong, against an up-and-coming Michigan State team. Unfortunately, they lost, falling to 0-1 in conference play.
The Badgers have since turned it around, beating Minnesota and Ohio State, bumping them back to the upper echelon of the Big Ten at 2-1.
As a top three team in the Big Ten, it figures to be that the third best team would be in the top 15, so i'm not all that surprised they find themselves ranked at No. 13.
You could make an argument that the Badgers should be ranked higher than No. 10 Ohio State, since they just beat them, but as we all know,the BCS rankings can shuffle like a deck of cards in a matter of weeks. Complaining about the Badgers ranking now, would be like complaining how your first test of the year is going to wreck your grade, when it's Week 2 of a sixteen week semester.
There's just too much time left to whine.
Although, if you're interested, i've got some fine Wisconsin cheese to go with that wine.
As I've said in this slideshow, the Badgers have plenty of time to improve their ranking, and with some help, could find themselves in the single digit rankings by bowl season.
For the rest of the season, the Badgers' year shakes out like this:
at No. 9 Iowa
at No. 25 Michigan
Out of that remaining schedule, the Badgers should be favored in three out of five of the games.
Those matchups would be their games against Purdue, Indiana and Northwestern.
I'd also suspect a close game against Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines, even in the Big House.
The Badgers are coming off of their biggest win since 2003.
Under coach Bret Bielema, they've finally gotten the marquee win the program has been building toward.
Going into the latter weeks of their season, i'm going to call this one a tie. For obvious reasons, both games will be tough tests for Wisconsin.
Defending against Denard "shoelace" Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines offense will be a daunting task for the Badgers.
Not to mention, it's an away game, in one of the hardest places to play in the nation. Tell that to the 2008 No. 9 Badgers team who entered Michigan and blew a 19-0 lead...
Also a tough test coming up this week for the Badgers is a trip to Kinnick to play the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes may have lost running back Jewel Hampton, but they've kept on moving into Big Ten play, every bit as effective. Defensive line stud Adrian Clayborn should have his hands full rushing the passer and trying to stop the Wisconsin run game, against one of the best offensive lines in the country. Of course, the reverse is true for Wisconsin as well.
The Badgers will have to be ready for Clayborn 40-plus plays.
The Badgers are a very good team. Through the coaching staff, they've had a serious emphasis on the following: Be mentally tough. Bend but don't break. Fight for every yard. Do all things right, and the wins should find their way into the Badgers column in the box score.
The Badgers were not perfect Saturday, but no team is. They did everything they needed to (including a much improved special teams unit) to secure a win.
The team is playing with a swagger. You can see the confidence in quarterback Scott Tolzien's eyes. He's confident, poised and leading the Badgers.
John Clay and James White lead one of the best running games in the nation.
And of course, the big boys up front enjoy their role of bulldozing over the often smaller defensive lines.
This team has swagger, and maybe it's due to "teach me how to bucky" sweeping the net. The viral video, supporting the Badgers and Bucky, has hit Youtube in the last month and already has over 400,000 views. You can check it out here.
Needless to say, the Badgers are enjoying playing spoiler for Ohio State and potentially Iowa their next game.
The Badgers tend to be early season "sexy picks" to make some noise in the Big Ten, but after a loss, the bandwagon analysts and fans jump off very quick.
Lather, rinse, repeat, and you're right in the middle of 2010's Badgers season.
The Badgers were a top 10 team entering the season, and once they lost to Michigan State (who rank as the No. 7 team in the BCS poll, the Badgers' media love became nonexistent.
Now, beating Ohio State helps the Badgers gets some of that early season love back.
The Badgers can continue to make noise this season with games remaining against Iowa and Michigan yet, so their climb in the rankings may not be over just yet.
The team had been struggling on special teams all season, but it appears that Wisconsin has remedied most of the issues it had face previously in that facet of their game.
In the passing game, Tolzien has continued to be efficient.
*As an aside, I'd compared Tolzien to Chad Pennington of the NFL's Dolphins and Jets. He doesn't need to be the center of the offense, and you don't expect him to push the ball down field, you just expect him to make the 5-10 yard slants and simple checks. Tolzien does that in every way.*
The defense has come back nicely since stumbling against Michigan State and has recovered from the loss of stud linebacker (and Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2009) Chris Borland for the season.
Wisconsin will need to continue this roll they're on if they hope to move higher up the BCS rankings and push to the top of the Big Ten and make a Rose Bowl appearance.
Can Wisconsin's fans make reservations in January for the BCS championship game?
Let me just say this first...I love the Badgers as much as the next person, but I'm also a realist.
Unless the Badgers go undefeated the rest of the season, and nearly all of the top five lose at least once, the Badgers have no real chance at getting into the BCS championship game.
However, if you're a gambling type, Vegas has odds on Wisconsin, should you profess your love for Bucky in dollar form.
The Badgers are slated as +4000 odds to win the BCS championship. Not very likely. But, that'd be one nice payday if you put $50 down on them.
More realistically, the No. 13 Badgers have a shot (albeit slim) at a major BCS bowl, if they can win the remainder of their games. If that were to happen, Iowa would have two losses, leaving the Badgers having the tiebreaker over a possibly one loss Ohio State team for tops of the Big Ten. The only roadblock here, aside from next Saturday's Iowa game, is Michigan State being potentially undefeated and if that happens, the Badgers won't be going to the Rose Bowl.
On the converse, if the Badgers win out and Michigan State were to lose two games, the Badgers would be able to book their January flights to Pasadena.
Final Bowl Projection: Non-BCS Bowl, Capital One Bowl
The Badgers certainly showed Saturday that they are more than capable to make a run with the best team in the nation. I believe that coach Bielema can get his players to finish their season strong (with or without a win over Iowa next week) and get into a very respectable bowl, the Capital One Bowl.