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Badger Bits: College football's middle class takes the spotlight

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Wisconsin qualifies as a "middle class" college football program.
Wisconsin qualifies as a "middle class" college football program.

When you take a look at this week's BCS standings, there is a handful of unlikely teams ranked in the top 10. Missouri, Michigan State, TCU, Utah, Boise State, Auburn, Oregon, and Wisconsin all do not qualify as traditional powers of college football. Meanwhile, Penn State, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Florida are all nowhere to be found. Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! Sports has an interesting article out with an explanation of why the "middle class" programs of college football are finding success.

Wisconsin probably fits Wetzel's definition of a middle class program: a "traditionally solid, but rarely great major conference program." The major premise of the article is that today's recruits are most interested in early playing time, so instead of waiting their turn for playing time at a traditional power, they are seeking out teams where they can make an early impact. This isn't necessarily the case in Madison, as freshman and sophomore starters are somewhat rare. But the opportunity to earn early playing time may have influenced the decisions of James White and John Clay to commit to the Badgers. Wetzel also mentions that Internet and television coverage are factors that have evened the playing field. Wisconsin certainly has benefited from the hyperconnectivity of today's society; we're snagging recruits from way across the country on a regular basis. In any case, look for Wisconsin to continue to benefit from this middle class surge, as talented football players realize they don't have to go to a blueblood school to shine on the national stage.

Bucky's What to Watch - In lieu of a Wisconsin football game this Saturday, here's what football games Bucky Badger will have playing on his television this weekend:

Purdue at Illinois, 11 am, ESPN2 - A chance to scout his next opponent? Count Bucky in.

Michigan State at Iowa, 2:30 pm, ABC - If Iowa beats Michigan State, then Wisconsin is clearly superior to Michigan State because only one of the two could come up with the win at Kinnick (Bucky doesn't care about head-to-head results). So a Iowa win makes Wisconsin the leader of the Big Ten.

Auburn at Mississippi, 5 pm, ESPN2 - Will the number 1 team in the country stumble on the road for the fourth week in a row? Bucky's got his money on the home team pulling the upset.

Ohio State at Minnesota, 7 pm, ABC - Bucky's only watching because of the potential humor involved.

More Links:

Congratulations to Ron Dayne on being named one of the 50 Big Ten icons.

Barry Alvarez's preference is to hold the Big Ten championship game indoors, every year.

Scott Tolzien has been named one of 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. A well deserved honor for Scottie, and he gets to join Barry Alvarez at the 2010 NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC on December 7. Jim Leonhard and Joe Thomas also won this award.

Five good minutes with Brad Nortman. See if he thinks he has a future in the NFL.

The national perception of Bret Bielema is on the rise.

The Badgers are singlehandedly foiling Adam Rittenberg's plans of doing a good job predicting Big Ten outcomes.