Three straight Rose Bowls is usually worth some cred, though last year was admittedly wonky. Wisconsin is back to being the plucky underdog in the eyes of scribes, however. Suddenly, they're hoping to be the rat riding the ox's back.
Ohio State would be the ox, according to oddsmakers and Andy Staples, who left Wisconsin off his post-Spring top 25 while tabbing the Buckeyes as the No. 4 team in the country. Ohio State is apparently looking ahead to bigger things than a Leaders Division title. Several players told Stewart Mandel that they think they can be the ones to end the SEC's streak of national championships. Cue
Brandon Bradley Roby:
"The SEC has won, what, seven [BCS titles] in a row?" said Roby. "What better than for Ohio State to be the team that ends it? That's what we're looking to do this year."
Roby's chutzpah isn't misplaced. Ohio State returns a ton of offensive starters, including Braxton Miller and four out of five offensive linemen, and Roby spearheads a secondary that should be one of the country's finest. The front seven has to replace six starters, but there's no question that Urban Meyer has recruited like Hell since stepping on campus. Coming off a 12-0 season, Ohio State is an understandable preseason title game contender.
The fact that few are mentioning Wisconsin as a conference challenger is surprising, however, especially given the inordinate number of 50-50 games they lost late in the season. There will be new starters along the offensive line and in the secondary, but otherwise every position group should hold serve or improve in 2013. Ideally, the starting quarterback won't break his collarbone and new coaches will mesh seamlessly with players and each other. On paper, Wisconsin deserves more credit than a mention in the 21st paragraph as one of two "potential speed bumps" along with Northwestern.
If this Wisconsin team wants to say "no one believes in us," I think they are officially within their rights. Too often the term has been mishandled by teams who, in actuality, had several people who believed in them. When sports books are giving the other guy 1-to-8 odds to win the division, however, "no one believes in us" becomes fair game. Hopefully, Wisconsin will relish the underdog role as much as they have in the past.
Andy Staples leaves Wisconsin out of his post-spring top 25.
A bored high schooler explains Big Ten realignment.
Passing on third down good, doing the other thing bad.
That finance report thing: USA Today released it's annual look at athletic department finances. Wisconsin was 11th in the country having generated over $103 million in revenue last year. They weren't one of the 23 schools who turned a profit without the help of school subsidies, however.
That said, the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Schools define "subsidies" a lot of different ways, and universities also get to skim off athletic departments in some instances. USA Today's research is interesting but murky, and unfortunately not terribly useful.