Badger Bits: Wisconsin Rebounds From Sluggish Start, Now The Fun Begins

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Wisconsin has emerged from the depths of an ugly start to the season. Whether the team is "good" by any stretch will be determined over the final four games of the season, beginning with Michigan State this week.

After the last nine quarters of football, it's safe to say that, at the very least, Wisconsin isn't a bad team. That's an important distinction to make when you consider what the team looked like early in the season, squeaking by Northern Iowa and Utah State, and collapsing in the second half against Nebraska. That Badgers squad, a month and eons ago, was en route to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, if any bowl game at all.

Whether Wisconsin is really any good will be determined over the final four games of the season, starting with Michigan State on Saturday.

The Spartans held an improving Michigan offense to 326 total yards, stifling the running game until the Wolverines were able to get Denard Robinson on track in the second half. James White and Montee Ball have made a strong case that they are the best running back tandem in the country after the last two weeks. You will see little argument if they can light up Michigan State like they did Purdue and Illinois.

Wisconsin would rejoin the national conversation, as well, with a trap game against Indiana before litmus games against Ohio State and Penn State still to go. It's going to be a fun stretch run to the end of the regular season, with everything still left to prove.

Monday's Links

Injury report: Devin Gaulden tweets he is out for the season with an ACL injury. The secondary will be a big concern should anything happen to Devin Smith or Marcus Cromartie.

More post-game notes: Jerry Kill forgives Chris Borland, Devin Smith is great, Derek Watt is not his brother but is also great, Kyle French takes hold of both kicking jobs, Ryan Groy plays great at left tackle, Montee Ball is not hurt and in fact is doing just great.

Wisconsin's Adopt-a-Rivalry program enters the final year of its sequence with Michigan State before a four-year hiatus due to Wisconsin-hosing conference realignment. The game will be played in Camp Randall for the first time since 2009, and that's exciting. The Journal Sentinel writes something about mutual respect.

More on The Barge (oooOOOOoooOOhhhhHHHHH) from the State Journal and the Journal Sentinel. Synopsis: Happy big people, happy James White, unhappy Gopher.

Tom Oates writes on the maturation of Joel Stave, the considerable distance he has come and the considerable distance he has yet to go as a quarterback.

Dave Heller returns with his numbers portrait of Saturday's game.

Badger Roundtable discusses the Minnesota game, and looks ahead to a home game (finally!) against a reeling MSU squad next week.

Jeff Potrykus is always worth a listen, but I'm finding it harder to cope with the dead smile of whoever the heck Justin Shackil is.

Wrapping up: Holly Anderson's Week 8 recap via social media.

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