I have really enjoyed the conversations happening in the comment sections here, even if I think some of you could stand to be hugged by your nearest father figure before hitting "Reply" again. Bubbling angst boiled over on Facebook, Twitter, and message boards, and was no doubt carried over to local supermarket floors and barbershop chairs following Wisconsin's 30-27 loss to Nebraska on Saturday. I didn't take to the web, but I did find a find a buddy and several beers to commiserate with. Hugs were had.
In some ways, I think it's good that fans are taking the loss this hard. It is, in part, a sign that expectations are extraordinarily high for the program, thanks to a build-up of success culminating in a pair of Rose Bowls. This year we are looking at what feels like an 8-4 team. Wisconsin has suffered through worse, as have a lot of good teams coming of great stretches of winning. The fact that anyone is up in arms means that the program has won enough to make leaner times seem far away. Winning is good and fun.
The last five weeks haven't been particularly fun for Badger fans (minus the 30 seconds we were allowed to enjoy the Utah State game). We've had to deal with a coach being fired, budding quarterback controversy, injuries to star players and one particularly gut-wrenching loss. There is a bit more to the angst than just losing a couple games, but the prescription is easy: Kick the snot out of Illinois.
The Illini are reeling at 2-3 overall with all three loss coming by at least 28 points. Penn State cruised to a 35-7 victory last week by forcing three turnovers and enjoying arguably their best offensive performance to date. Wisconsin needs something they can definitively feel good about, and a 20-plus point, 60-minute win over a rival would be just that. Forget the anxiety, the Badgers have improved in some way each week of the season and it's time they put all of their best bits together for a warm, flannel down comforter of a victory at home before heading to West Lafayette for a key intra-division bout.
Wisconsin is about a two-touchdown favorite over Illinois this weekend. I'm skeptical because we still haven't seen the Badgers play that far above an opponent this season outside of the good parts of the Nebraska game. I'm hopeful though, because--fergodssake--I could us the peace of mind.
BREAKING: Zach Bohannon petitions Barack Obama to play ball at the Kohl Center.
ESPN's B1G blog previews the Illinois-Wisconsin.
A reminder that Wisconsin has lost road conference openers before and gone on to do good things.
Montee Ball remember Wisconsin's immense struggles in the first half of last year's Illinois game. Ron Zook decided to hold QB tryouts in the second half instead of stick with an effective edge rushing attack, and Wisconsin was eventually able to win walking away.
Bret Bielema insists that he is staying patient despite the early struggles.
OTE Power Poll has Wisconsin at No. 7, drawing comparison to Tom Cruise's promiscuous ways.
Wisconsin is placing an emphasis on early recruiting for the Class of 2014, which is looking to be strong year for talent in the state itself.
Wisconsin is ranked No. 17 in the Sporting News' preseason college basketball Top 25. Indian, Ohio State and Michigan are all ranked in the Top 5.
Three men were ordered to stand on trial for attacking Montee Ball over the summer.
Spencer Hall and Brian Cook take to the Georgian tailgate landscape to find out what the SEC really knows about the Big Ten.
Wrapping up: Daily Affirmation ... with Jim Tressel.