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Badger Bits: Big Ten writers high on Wisconsin, Bielema

The Big Ten Conference will not be releasing a preseason poll this season, so Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Doug Lesmerises decided to take matters into his own hands and conduct a poll of 24 Big Ten football writers, two for each team in the conference (Tom Mulhern and Jeff Potrykus were the UW reps). Let's take a look at the results:

  • 22 writers picked Wisconsin to win the Leaders Division (Penn State and Ohio State received one vote each).

  • 12 votes for Nebraska to win the conference, 11 for the Badgers. One picked Michigan State.
  • Predicted Big Ten title game results for Bucky: 10- Nebraska beats UW. 7- UW beats Nebraska. 3- UW beats Michigan St. 1- Michigan St. beats Wisconsin. 1- Wisconsin beats Michigan (ballsy choice there).
  • Bret Bielema was voted the conference's best coach as of right now. Clearly, Bielema is earning respect around the conference, not just a reputation for being a bully.
  • James White has been getting more respect among preseason watch lists, but Montee Ball was 5th and White 8th in the preseason offensive POTY rankings. Russell Wilson ended up between his two backfield mates at 6th. (More Badger Bits after the jump.)

The NFL lockout is over, hallelujah! Time for the free agent signings to pour in. John Clay is a Pittsburgh Steeler, via Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Not too surprising, this one was rumored a while ago. Clay joins fellow Big Ten big boy Rashard Mendenhall (Illinois) in the Steeler backfield. Meanwhile, Scott Tolzien's agent reportedly says that Scott has picked an undisclosed team to sign with. Seahawks was the rumored destination last night, now the rumor is the Colts. Could Scott Tolzien's career path mirror that of former Badger and Colt quarterback Jim Sorgi? Being Peyton Manning's backup isn't the most exciting job in the NFL, but at the end of the day, you're still getting paid.

The Crimson Quarry (Indiana blog) as well as Hammer and Rails (Purdue blog) both released their early game previews for their respective matchups in Madison against the Badgers. Both consider it a difficult game for their team and are more or less resigned to blowout losses.

More NCAA football betting odds coming at you. And no, I'm not trying to turn the Bucky's 5th Quarter readership into a bunch of compulsive gamblers. For entertainment purposes only:

Wisconsin -3 vs. Nebraska, Oct. 1st in Madison. Pretty standard line for the home team in a big matchup.

Wisconsin PK at Michigan State, Oct. 22nd in East Lansing. This is troubling as Wisconsin was actually the Vegas favorite in this game last year. I'd like to figuratively punch the schedule maker who decided the Badgers should have to go to Spartan Stadium two years in a row.

Wisconsin 16-to-1 on winning the BCS National Championship. Best odds the Badgers have seen in this category in quite a while.

Big Ten might be going for a 9 game conference schedule starting in 2017. Not really a fan of this, especially since it seems like it wouldn't lead to a protected rivalry with Iowa. I'd honestly prefer 10 conference games to balance out home and road conference games, but that's just me.

Former Wisconsin football player Kraig Appleton was shot multiple times in his hometown of East St. Louis, IL this past weekend. He is reported to be in stable condition, so hopefully Kraig will be able to make a full recovery.