LOS ANGELES - I've arrived in cloudy, damp and cool Los Angeles where the Badgers are preparing for their first Rose Bowl since 2000.
If you're back in Wisconsin, I'm sure you don't want to hear me complain about the weather, but come on, Southern California should not be this cold and rainy!
Unfortunately all the media availability today was this morning before I got here so we'll have to wait until Media Day tomorrow to hear from the coaches and players. Since I live in Chicago, I haven't had a chance to talk to the players since they beat Northwestern last month, so there are a lot of topics I want to cover in the morning.
Here are some of the storylines I can't wait to see play out in the next few days:
- I'm not buying the Badgers' running back rotation. The coaches insist Montee Ball is still No. 1, James White is No. 2 and John Clay is No. 3. They also insist Clay is back to 100 percent. I find it hard to believe a healthy John Clay doesn't receive the majority of the carries Saturday. But Bret Bielema also hasn't been sentimental towards players in his tenure. He rewards guys for performing well and Ball has played well enough to start in the Rose Bowl. Personally, I think you will see all three a lot. The Badgers are trying to keep TCU guessing.
- Has Wisconsin's coordinator situation been distracting at all? No one will admit that it has and this is something that probably won't be evident until the game is played, but you have to think it has had at least a small effect on the players in the last month. Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren accepted the Northern Illinois job a few weeks ago and has basically been doing two jobs ever since. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was reportedly offered the Texas offensive coordinator job.
- Is Wisconsin's defense poised to have its best game of the year? Jay Valai played the last four games with a slight tear in his calf. Mike Taylor was not 100 percent at the start of the year or at the end of the year, but seemed to improve throughout the season. Guys like J.J. Watt (shoulder) had small injuries that didn't cost them any playing time, but needed a month off to heal. UW's defense enters the Rose Bowl the healthiest it has been all year and it needs to put together its best effort of the season to stop the Frogs.
- TCU's 4-2-5 defense. I've spent a lot of time the last month studying and watching Gary Patterson's 4-2-5 defense. What makes it so unique is that the back-seven get split up on two halves of the field and get two different play calls on every play. There are three safeties. One gets the call for one half of the field and another gets the call for the other. It's unique and successful. I'm curious to hear the TCU players describe their defense and the Wisconsin players describe how they are going to attack it.
- TCU fans are edgy. They feel disrespected and underappreciated. I know a couple TCU fans who have come off this way in the last month and also from our "Get to Know TCU" series with Ben Findley. He had some pretty angry reactions to some national assumptions about the Frogs. Do the players feel the same way? How much will prove with a win over Wisconsin? It's a legitimate factor in this game and I hope to get a good read from players on both sides on this subject.
For now, be sure to follow me on Twitter @B5Q for up to the second updates from California. Tomorrow morning we'll have our final installment of the "Get to Know TCU" series (which will include my long-awaited prediction) and I'll have a lot of coverage from media day.
If you have any questions you want answered over the next few days (whether they are for me or questions I can ask the players/coaches) please e-mail them to me, send them to me on Twitter or leave them in the comments below.