Much has been made of Wisconsin's notoriously soft non-conference scheduling in recent years and rightfully so. The Badgers play four non-Big Ten opponents each season and haven't faced a BCS foe in that department since beating Washington State in their 2007 home opener. The reasons for this are too numerous to get into here, ranging from a generally conservative head coach and athletic director to a college football system that discourages teams from challenging themselves during the early portion of the season.
As a result, Badger fans have usually been able to get away with keeping only one eye open during what amounts to Wisconsin's preseason and eagerly anticipating Big Ten play. But don't sleep on Fresno State. While the media has been all over the USC-Ohio State showdown in Columbus and the "who-will-get-fired-first" clash between Charlie Weis and Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor, the game in Madison will be one of the better match-ups of week two. The Bulldogs have been one of the most consistently successful teams in the WAC over the past several years and frequently crush the BCS dreams of the heavyweights. They have beaten 12 BCS teams since 2000, the most of any mid-major, including wins over Colorado, Oregon State, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Washington, Kansas State, Virginia and, yes, Wisconsin.
In many ways, Fresno State comes into Camp Randall in a situation similar to that of Wisconsin. Both teams went into the 2008 season with enormously high expectations and senior quarterbacks. The Bulldogs and Badgers came out of the grind with identical 7-6 records, both considered extreme disappointments. After losing their bowl games, Fresno State got off to a hot start in 2009 with a 51-0 victory over UC-Davis, while Wisconsin held on against Northern Illinois. The teams are both 1-0, hungry and underappreciated, which should make for a dandy this Saturday.
Here are your Badger Bits for Thursday: