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Badger Bits: Can a breakup with Iowa benefit Wisconsin?

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Good morning everybody! Here are your Badger Bits for Friday, August 27th!

Just in case you didn't notice, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Iowa Hawkeyes appear to be going their separate ways when the Big Ten adds the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the conference in 2011. This news precedes the (apparently) eventual split between Ohio State and Michigan, who both appear ready to be placed in different divisions. As of now, the Wisconsin-Iowa rivalry appears to be the largest casualty of a bigger Big Ten.

The largest benefit to Wisconsin and Iowa being in separate divisions is that the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will continue as scheduled for the foreseeable future, as Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez mentioned that Minnesota will be paired with Wisconsin in the new divisional setup.

The possibility remains that the Wisconsin-Iowa series will be continued annually through a protected crossover game, which was also confirmed to be a part of the Big Ten's expansion plans by Alvarez. If that is the case, then the Badgers might still benefit from the divisions in the Big Ten according to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

All in all, I am glad that Wisconsin-Minnesota is ensured to continue for years to come. It still strikes me as unfortunate that Iowa will have to choose between the Badgers and the Gophers for a protected crossover game, because in either scenario the Big Ten loses a historic rivalry on a yearly basis.

More Badger Bits after the jump!

Over at Off Tackle Empire (formerly The Rivalry, Esq.), they have their 'Closing Arguments' up for the Badgers. The piece is designed like a court case and has references to Lady Gaga, so it's definitely worth the read.

Moving on to more season previews, The Sporting News has Wisconsin ranked at No. 8 in the country, and their season preview can be found here.

Fall camp is still going, but more focus is being put on the upcoming season opener at UNLV. Here are the practice reports from Wednesday and Thursday.

Reprising his old role at Central Michigan, defensive end J.J. Watt has been getting some reps at tight end during camp. Watt has been working with the goal line set in a Jumbo formation.

Speaking of JJ- Mel Kiper has him ranked as the 4th best non-senior defensive end in the country, along with mentioning punter Brad Nortman and kicker Philip Welch as the second and fifth best, respectively. (ESPN Insider required).

Two Badger freshmen are stepping up at the wide receiver spot and adding depth to the roster, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

And finally, Wisconsin will be hosting Michigan State in men's basketball on a CBS national broadcast this season. The Badgers have as many as 12 games scheduled to be shown on one of ESPN's networks.

Only 8 days until kickoff!