MADISON, Wis. -- The Badgers continued their steady climb in the national polls Sunday, after beating Northern Illinois 49-7 in Chicago. Wisconsin moved up one spot in each poll, and is now ranked No. 6 by the AP and No. 7 in the USA Today coaches' poll. But for Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash, the rankings don't matter. All that matters is the next team on the schedule, and in this case it's the South Dakota Coyotes.
"People can talk about rankings and wins - none of that stuff matters to us," Ash said Sunday. "It doesn't matter who we're playing or where we're playing them at. It's one day at a time, one game at a time, and this is another opponent that's in our way."
However, with a home game with No. 9 Nebraska looming on Oct. 1, it might be easy for the Badgers to overlook this year's FCS opponent. But Ash said he isn't worried - as long as the Badgers prepare for South Dakota like they would for any other team.
"The number one thing is just preparation," Ash said. "They prepared for Northern Illinois with great focus and great energy, paid attention to details, and that's really the formula for each week and they have to continue that."
"We're not concerned about the logo of the opponent on their helmet, we're concerned about ourselves."
The Coyotes, who play in the FCS Great West Conference, have upset a BCS team before. South Dakota shocked Minnesota 41-38 last year in Minneapolis, a loss that signaled the beginning of the end for former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster's regime.
Co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge echoed Ash's comments about preparation, and stressed that the Badgers wouldn't be caught napping on Saturday.
"[South Dakota] already has our attention," Partridge said. "The guys did a nice job all the way from early on Sunday right until game time. The kids were studying, and asking great questions- it's all in the preparation."
"They've beaten Division 1 teams before, and so far they're off to a great start too," Ash said. "We're going to have to be ready to play them. "
News and Notes
-- The Badgers committed several penalties Saturday, but offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said he was happy with how the team responded. The Badgers were not penalized in the second half, after committing six penalties for 45 yards before halftime.
-- Both Montee Ball and James White got in on the receiving game Saturday. Ball had two catches for 32 yards, and White caught three passes for 35 yards. However, Chryst mentioned they were just taking advantage of what NIU gave them on defense.
"We didn't say 'OK, this is a week for the backs, where as last week wasn't,'" Chryst said.
-- With cornerback Devin Smith (foot) sidelined for the rest of the season, Marcus Cromartie had to step up and show he can play consistently enough to help the defense. And for the second game in a row, Cromartie delivered.
"We're really happy with how he covered, how he tackled," Partridge said. "We knew they were going to try to attack [Cromartie], because last time Coach Doeren saw him he was a different player."
"We feel like for most of the day, Cromartie answered the call."
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