Neighborhood barbershops, it seems to me, are the keepers of universal truthes. Whatever prevailing wisdom happens to be blowing through disseminates from their clippers, with pearls like women, right? and God those guys in Washington are making a mess and you know, this economy is just terrible putting you at ease while sharp objects glance about your head. These wisdoms can change on occasion, and if/when they do the only way to know for sure is to sit down for a haircut. Which I did. And had this conversation. (Paraphrased for my convenience).
Barber: You excited about that game in a couple weeks?
Me: Yeah! We'll finally get to see what the Badgers are really made of. Nebraska too.
Barber: I think they're going to find out what Big Ten football is really like and that every week is a pounding.
Me: Unfortunately the conference seems kind of down this year.
Barber: Yeah, between that guy that Michigan used to have and the way Ohio State and Michigan State got beat up last week, it's like we forgot how to be tough. They are all a bunch of little fast guys now. They forget that everyone is the same speed laying on their back.
For better or for worse, Wisconsin has become the standard bearer for the conference, not only in terms of talent but for the B1G ideal as well. Not that my barber is right, per se. Playing in the same conference as Woody and Bo doesn't give you some responsibility by divine right to uphold the tenets of smashmouth football. But ESPN has narratives to shoehorn into everything and the truth is the B1G will be seen as even weaker than it already is if someone somewhere isn't forcibly trying to knock Indiana's teeth back into its tonsils.
So while every other conference tries to redefine itself in terms of demographics, TV markets, revenues, etc., Wisconsin is currently spearheading the B1G's drive to maintain its manhood. Luckily, the Badgers appear more than willing to oblige, starting in two weeks in what could be the conference's showcase matchup of the season.
No offense to South Dakota, but I'd be okay if Wisconsin's mind was elsewhere this week.
Confirming what John wrote yesterday, Josh Oglesby will likely sit out Saturday's game despite an MRI showing that his injured ankle was only a sprain. He should return for the Nebraska game.
Oglesby seems to get injured just when a promising young backup is ready to blossom. This week's made man is Rob Havenstein.
BadgerBeat does a good job as always previewing this week's matchup.
Here's last week's run/pass breakdown from the Journal Sentinel. Jared Abbrederis has yet to have a pass not hit his hands this season, with 11 catches and a drop on 12 targets.
You know you're playing an FCS opponent when: Their travels plans are the most interesting thing you can think to publish during game week. Get this: they're taking a bus. Wild!
The Big Ten Digest returns with a Week 4 preview and some sage gambling advice. Namely, take the over in the over/under. Don't even ask what it is just do it.
Off Tackle Empire makes the case for Nebraska as the best team in the conference over Wisconsin (Ed. note: the fact that this is considered a radical notion this early in the season is insane).
Russell Wilson pops up at No. 6 in ESPN's Heisman Watch. I'm disappointed that Robert Griffin III isn't higher on this list. I mean, the man has thrown as many touchdowns as incompletions (answer: 8) this season. The State Journal has a nice write-up on his chances and more even links to click.
The site Stadium Journey does reviews on pro and college gameday experiences, and unsurprisingly has a lot of nice things to say about Camp Randall.
Wrapping up: No surprise here. Wisconsin women are once again tabbed to win the WCHA title by coaches, with Hillary Knight taking home preseason Player of the Year honors.