MADISON, Wis. - After a two-week break from the national stage, the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers will step right back into the spotlight this Saturday, when they travel to play No. 15 Michigan State Spartans. The game is scheduled for primetime on ESPN, which announced yesterday that "College GameDay" will travel to East Lansing as well.
ESPN's flagship college football program has already made an appearance at a Badger game this season. GameDay was in Madison for the Badgers' 48-17 win over then-No. 8 Nebraska, so being in the spotlight is nothing new to the Badgers this year.
The Badgers will play in their first true road game of the season, and will be looking for revenge against a Spartans team that handed the Badgers their first and only regular season loss last year.
"You can't ever truly get that out of your head," Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash said Sunday. "This is a different team, they're a different team, same stadium, things like that, but they'll have that in the back of their minds. We've just got to worry about ourselves this year, and go out and prepare and play the way that we're capable of."
Mark Dantonio's team has extra motivation for the game as well. After finishing the season in a three-way tie for the Big Ten Championship, the Spartans were left out of a BCS bowl, as Wisconsin won the league's automatic berth to the Rose Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl invited Ohio State to play Arkansas. Since only two teams from each conference can play in a BCS bowl, the Spartans were relegated to the Capital One bowl.
Roles reversed on touchdown pass
Montee Ball already has 16 rushing touchdowns on the season, but don't let that fool you. The junior running back from Missouri is a little more versatile than that. In the second quarter against Indiana, Ball and quarterback Russell Wilson found out what it's like to be in the other person's shoes.
Ball took the hand off from Wilson and faked a rush to the sideline, before pulling up and tossing the ball to a wide-open Wilson, who showed off his athleticism and scampered into the end zone. The play wasn't unlike one by Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who reeled in a catch while tiptoeing down the sideline.
Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said the fake play was something they thought they could do going into the game, but the game set itself up in a way where they could give it a shot.
"I thought it would work, I called it, and hoped it worked," Chryst said Sunday.
Chryst also doesn't buy into the idea of saving a play like that for later in the season against an opponent like Michigan State.
"Every game is important, every drive is important, so I have no hesitation about that."
Wilson's versatility creates another play the Spartan defense will have to account for on Saturday. Chryst certainly showed he's not afraid to get creative with his new quarterback, so Badger fans and opposing defenses will be on the lookout for more creative play calls in the future.
News and Notes
-- Badger fans should be on the lookout for the first BCS standings which will be released later this evening on ESPN. The Badgers held onto the No. 4 spot in both human polls, but speculation is that the computers will penalize Wisconsin for a weak strength of schedule. Stay tuned to B5Q for updates.
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