It's that time of year again- summer is here and so are the preview magazines for the 2010 NCAA Football season. And to say the least, our Badgers are pretty highly regarded this year. Mike Lucas over at Madison.com gives the details on where the Badgers rank across the preview magazine spectrum, and the results are very positive. UW is ranked in the Top 25 in all of the mags with two magazines putting the squad in the Top 10, at #6 (Lindy's) and #8 (The Sporting News). While across the board Ohio State is regarded as the team to beat in the Big Ten, the Badgers certainly seem to be getting some respect as one of the teams most likely to dethrone the Buckeyes.
On the flip side, however, its important to note that the players are keeping things in perspective and just trying to take things one game at a time. Badger fans remember all too well the 2008 season, where the team started off with high expectations, but ended up with a 7-6 record after being blown out by Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
"It’s a good thing that Wisconsin is getting noticed again as one of the elite teams in the Big Ten," said tailback John Clay. "But we still have to go out and prove it now that we have a target on our back and everybody is looking at us to be good."
Senior guard John Moffit also gave Lucas his take:
"In the past, I’ve noticed some people get complacent when we’ve had big expectations. You expect certain things and maybe the work doesn’t back it up. That’s something the coaches have been stressing since the Miami game. We have to stay humble and hungry."
We can only hope that the team can keep their heads about them and actually live up to the lofty expectations that the media has created for them this year.
If you love preview magazines, be sure to buy Badger Kickoff 2010 from Maple Street Press this year!
Speaking of John Clay, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN's Big Ten Blog has him ranked as the 4th Best player in the Big Ten this year, moving up from his post-season rank of #9. Rittenberg has 6 Badgers in his Top 25, with Gabe Carimi listed at No. 11, John Moffitt and Chris Borland at 15 and 16, Scott Tolzien at 19, and JJ Watt at 25.
Parker Gabriel at The Daily Cardinal has come out with a list of his Five Badgers To Watch in 2010-11. Jordan Taylor on the UW Basketball team and Craig Smith of the Men's Hockey team top the list as the players that will need to be successful for their teams to have productive years.
Speaking of the Men's Basketball team, Jon Leuer is starting to make some noise as a NBA Draft prospect. Jedsports has him listed among the Top Prospects for 2011.
And for those of you looking ahead of the football season to the NFL Draft, Kevin Paul over at The Wife Hates Sports has his Top 20 list for the best Big Ten draft prospects. Gabe Carimi, John Clay, and John Moffitt are listed at 2, 9, and 16, respectively. However, Clay is a red-shirt junior who may decide to return to Wisconsin for his senior year. Whether or not he enters the NFL Draft may depend on how well he performs this season.
Finally, Rittenberg wrote a piece on Nebraska's developing rivalries. UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez was quoted in the article:
"I don’t think you just say, ‘We’re going to be rivals,’" Alvarez said. "That grows. That’s your fans and the teams and the coaches, they establish a rivalry. You don’t just mark it on your calendar that we have a rivalry. [Wisconsin and Nebraska] haven't played since 1974."
Alvarez's main point is that rivalries don't just spring out of the ground, and I can't help but agree with him. With the Nebraska joining play next year the biggest mistake the Big Ten could make would be to designate rivals for the new team without any history behind them, much like what happened when Penn State joined in 1993. The Big Ten is known for its rivalries, and the last thing it needs is a reincarnation of the Land Grant Trophy between Michigan State and Penn State.
And as usual, it's a great day to be a Badger!