Badger Bits: What a difference three years makes

The year 2008 was a rough one for a lot of people. The United States economy was in midst of one of the worst recessions of the last century, and people were losing there jobs and tightening their wallets left and right. It was a rather unhappy time for America. Despite all that, we still had football, and it looked like the Badgers were primed for a big year.

Or so we thought.

The Badgers returned most of their starters in 2008 and had gone 12-1 just two years before. Fans had high hopes for the team, which were only heightened by a 3-0 start. Wisconsin climbed all the way to No. 9 in the polls before dropping four straight and participating in one of the worse sporting events I've witnessed in person: a 48-7 home loss to Penn State. The Badgers finished 7-6 that year. They committed a ton of penalties, turned the ball over a lot and generally looked unprepared on a weekly basis.

But that was three years ago, and I think it's safe to say the Badgers learned their lesson. The 2011 team is so different from the 2008 one it's astonishing. Wisconsin is one of the top teams in the nation not only because they have talent and experience, but because they work extremely hard and play a disciplined brand of football. The Badgers don't even seem capable of beating themselves anymore, something that was the norm just three short years ago. It's been a complete turnaround.

Now if only I could say the same about the job market ...

The biggest Badger news yesterday came from the Big Ten, which announced Michigan State defensive end William Gholston would be suspended for Saturday's game after committing two unsportsmanlike personal fouls against Michigan last week.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about Russell Wilson's unique transfer to Wisconsin. Our very own Adam Hoge is quoted.

The Badgers are No. 6 in the BCS rankings, which means they might have a tough time getting into the national championship, even if they win out.

Freshman running back Melvin Gordon will miss three to four weeks with a groin injury.

ESPN's Depth Chart, which aired on Wednesday, was awesome. Even better, it showed everyone how great it was to be a Badger, something that could help the team in recruiting.

Brad Nortman is still haunted by the punt return touchdown that gave the Spartans the lead for good in last year's showdown in East Lansing.

ESPN's Mark May did a very brief video breakdown of one of Wisconsin's staple pass plays.

Jeff Potrykus says the Gholston suspension was the right call for the Big Ten. He also says the key to Saturday's game is controlling Michigan State's front seven when the Badgers have the ball.

Several top Spartans recruits will be in East Lansing Saturday for the game. 

To wrap up, here's a giant list of predictions for the game. A few people did pick against the Badgers this week, for once.

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