MADISON, Wis. - When the Badgers' 2011 schedule was announced last fall, the Michigan State game stood out in the Big Ten slate. The Badgers would have to go to East Lansing in back-to-back years; a daunting proposition, as the home team has won the last six games. Throw in the Badgers' 34-24 loss last year, and it seemed like the Badgers wouldn't be too eager to make a return trip so soon.
But in his weekly press conference Monday, Bret Bielema seemed to relish the chance to go back to the site of his team's only regular season loss last year.
"To me it's better for us to almost able to go and prove ourselves better than we were a year ago, than maybe to have them here in our environment and have the ‘revenge factor' come into it," Bielema said. "To me the challenge is, [it's] just how I'm wired and the way we try to wire our kids is: ‘Now go prove that you're better.'"
If the Badgers can leave East Lansing undefeated, they'll have certainly proved that they're better than they were a year ago. The Spartans own one of the nation's top-ranked defenses, which should provide a high-octane Badger attack with its biggest test yet.
"Anybody that played a certain way last year, let's go show what we can do better," Bielema said. "And hopefully that's going to carry forward. The bottom line is Michigan State is an excellent football team, and the opportunity to do that on the road is really special."
-- Wide receiver Nick Toon probably could have played Saturday against Indiana, but Bielema wanted an opportunity to rest his senior wideout and give some younger players a chance to play. Toon will be back to practice on Tuesday, as he is in New York for his father's induction into the New York Jets' "Ring of Honor."
-- It looks like Pat Butrym's injury is not as serious as it could have been. Butrym's ankle is feeling better, and while he might not practice until Thursday, Bielema said he would still be comfortable playing his senior captain anyway.
News and Notes
-- After defeating Michigan last Saturday in a game that saw a lot of personal fouls and penalties, the Spartans made it known that they would be coming after the Badgers. But Bielema is not overly concerned about his team taking the Spartan's bait, and letting them get inside their heads. But just to be safe, he's letting the defensive scout team get into it a little more than usual with the first team offense in practice.
"I want guys to have the reaction that they need to have on Saturday," Bielema said. "Unfortunately the only way to do that is to practice it and rep it."
"We'll do our talking with our pads, [and] we'll do it between the whistles."
-- While Bielema said he's not a computer person in the first place, he's not overly concerned about the computers penalizing his team for their strength of schedule.
"It's all gonna sort itself through in the end," Bielema said. "Unless you keep winning, it's immaterial anyway."
-- ESPN's "Depth Chart" will air Wednesday at 6 p.m. central time, and Bielema said it should be a must-see for any Badger fan.
"We let them have some all-access at very unique times during fall camp and leading into that UNLV game was pretty special," Bielema said. "It should be a really good show."
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