Wisconsin somehow managed to stroll through Oregon State on Saturday while the rest of the conference was busy stamping out well-sprung infernos throughout the day. Ohio State nearly became Toledo's latest mounted Big Ten trophy head, Nebraska took 45 minutes to wake up against Fresno State, Penn State got rolled by a national title contender and the last five minutes of Michigan-Notre Dame was fed live from my Playstation. In another universe, Russell Wilson yawned for 189 yards and three touchdowns and the running game hit snooze twice before picking up 208 yards.
Ted Glover at Off Tackle Empire made an apt analogy in comparing the B1G to America's Gilded Age when opulence reigned and the rich were rich and the poor were poor and an emerging middle class was only a rumor. There are no content, well-rounded middling squads in this conference. Most seem to be a volcanic coupling of enormous potential with one or several crippling flaws, making every game a study in schizophrenia. Somebody will have to finish 7-5 or 8-4 and .500 in the conference, though right now it is difficult to imagine how anyone will finish simply "average."
Wisconsin is the obvious exception. The Badgers so far look like the B1G's John D. Rockefeller, having disposed of their over matched foes in mechanical fashion. The key phrase is "so far," but in allowing just 23 yards rushing and zero points against the Beavers, the Badgers emphatically answered any questions about the defense. Granted, their opponent was comically inept. That's no reason not to take comfort in the fact that, so far, Wisconsin has looked as good as one could reasonably hope against inferior competition. If the rest of the conference is any example, it isn't as easy at it looks.
Marcus Cromartie played well in placed of the injured Devin Smith, but now the Badgers will be forced to adjust their nickel and dime package while Smith sits against Northern Illinois. Against the Beavers, Shelton Johnson moved down to play corner over the slot while Dezmen Southward manned Johnson's safety position.
Michael Hunt says the Badgers are ready to take on the B1G. No more cupcake-eating needed.
Nick Toon enjoyed a nice Saturday afternoon, and seems to be developing a decent rapport with Wilson. Wisconsin is now 7-0 whenever Toon catches at least one touchdown pass.
Tom Oates on the improvement on defense from UNLV to Oregon State. Players seem to be brimming with confidence. Hopefully that confidence will carry over into the conference season.
Bret Bielema and several players have high praise for Northern Illinois head coach, and former Badger defensive coordinator, Dave Doeren. Bielema also hints at some new wrinkles for the game.
Dr. Saturday asks if it's okay to hop on the Russell Wilson bandwagon. No need to hold back the excitement here, Wilson has stepped up better than anyone could have hoped.
Off Tackle Empire's Week 2 bowl projections has Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks.
Badgers Roundtable dissects Saturday's game and looks forward to the game at Soldier Field. The consensus? This week's game will be uncomfortably close early on but the Badgers win going away.
Wrapping up: A nice piece from Tom Mulhern and Andy Baggot with recollections from Chris Borland, Barry Alvarez and Sherard Cardogan on September 11th.