Wisconsin Football: Why the Big Ten Is Both Making and Breaking the Badgers

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Wisconsin Football: Why the Big Ten Is Both Making and Breaking the Badgers
John Gress/Getty Images

Badgers fans have seen this move before.

In 2006, first-year head coach Bret Bielema led the Badgers to an 11-1 record and a berth in…the Capital One Bowl?

Despite Wisconsin’s stellar record that season, the Badgers were left out of the BCS.

Fast forward to 2011, and fans in Madison are getting nervous.

It’s still early, but the first round of BCS rankings revealed that the Badgers are, again, getting no love from the computers because of their weak SOS.

In a down year for the Big Ten, don’t expect the machines to sweeten on Bucky anytime soon.

After this weekend’s matchup with Michigan State, Wisconsin doesn't play another ranked team until November 19, when they travel to Illinois—and that’s assuming the Illini are still in the Top 25 a month from now.

Surely the Badgers’ schedule has helped them to an impressive 6-0 start, but is it going to end up hurting them in the end?

Before going too crazy, it’s important to remember that four of the five teams ahead of the Badgers in the BCS standings are going to face off before season’s end.

Alabama plays LSU on November 5, and Oklahoma meets Oklahoma State to close out the season on December 3.

Will a Big Ten title secure a spot for the Badgers in New Orleans?

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And don't forget, the winner of Alabama-LSU will still have to win the SEC title game to finish undefeated.

It’s also worth noting that even if the other team currently in front of Wisconsin in the BCS—Boise State—finishes unbeaten, history has shown us that by the end of the year, the Badgers will inevitably jump the Broncos (possibly even with one loss).

Say what you want about the Big Ten, but the BCS will always show deference to the “Big Six” over the WAC or Mountain West, machines be damned.

Finally, there is still half a season left to play, and there is plenty of time for the Big Ten to improve its image.

By the time all is said and done, the Badgers could very well claim victories over an 11-2 Nebraska team (loss number two coming in a Big Ten title-game rematch with Wisconsin), a 10-2 Michigan State team, a 10-2 Illinois team, a 10-2 Penn State, or an 11-2 Michigan team, should the Wolverines make the conference championship game.

The Badgers have been burned before, and it could definitely happen again. It’s okay to be mindful of the possibility, but it’s way too early to panic.

Voters, computers and anything else that decides the BCS will have a hard time keeping a 13-0 team with a Heisman winner under center out of New Orleans in January if that is how the Badgers’ season plays out. 

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