Badger Bits: How far can the Badgers go in 2011?

Welcome to the eve of the 2011 Badger football season, everyone.

I realize we're less than 36 hours away from kickoff, but before I get into football I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself, as I'll be writing Badger Bits twice a week henceforth. 

Born and raised in southern Wisconsin, I moved to Madison in 2008 and have attended UW since then, studying journalism and political science. I've followed the Badgers as long as I can remember and have written about them for a few different outlets over the course of the last couple years. I hope to work in sports communications after I graduate in spring. My all-time favorite Badgers (biased due to my age, obviously) are Kirk Penney, Devin Harris, Ron Dayne and J.J Watt. 

Now, on to the Badgers.

Tom Oates prepared a hypothetical in which the Badgers go undefeated and reach the national championship. Even in this situation, at No. 11, Wisconsin would need several teams to suffer upsets in order to make it to the 'ship. And of course, they'd likely have to beat Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska and everyone else on their regular season schedule to make it as well.

As Oates points out, only five of the past 20 national championship teams came from outside the preseason top 10 AP poll, and only one (Auburn, '11) has done so in the last six seasons. Will the Badgers be the next? This is arguably the best chance they've had in recent memory, so why not?

CBS Sports' Mike Dodd thinks they have a chance, listing them among seven other teams as national title "favorites." However, the CBS Sports team slotted the Badgers in the Rose Bowl in their preseason bowl projections.

Speaking of bowl projections, Off Tackle Empire released their own Tuesday. Wisconsin and Ohio State are both picked to go 11-1 and receive Fiesta and Rose Bowl invitations, respectively.

In Andy Baggot's UNLV preview, both the Runnin' Rebels' head coach and starting quarterback admit their program is still "rebuilding."

New Badgers co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash will join offensive coordinator Paul Chryst in the press box this season. Ash says he'll miss the energy of the sideline, but looks forward to working in the controlled environment provided by the press box.

It looks like the Badgers will be pretty healthy for Thursday's opener. Chris Borland and Brandon Kelly will be back on the field, both of whom were identified by Bret Bielema as having "big play potential."

ESPN's Brian Bennett identified the top seven Big Ten games in 2011. The Badgers will be appearing in three of them. Bennet seems especially high on Wisconsin's conference opener against Nebraska, which he says "could set the tone for the entire league season."

This isn't an article, but check out the weather forecast for Thursday. It's going to be very hot, which might make conditioning and fatigue a factor in the game, even though it's at night. 

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