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Badger Bits: Wisconsin accused of lacking scheduling courage

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In anticipation of this Saturday's game against Oregon State, the Wall Street Journal printed an article (subscription required) entitled "Why Beavers Are Braver Than Badgers." The article notes that the Beavers have had the toughest non-conference schedule since 2003, while the Badgers have had the softest. The writer frames Wisconsin as 'lacking the courage' to play difficult non-conference games. What can we look to as proof that the Badgers' non-conference schedule has been incredibly easy lately? Firstly, keep in mind that UW has won 29 straight regular season non-conference games.

"Of Wisconsin's 29 victims, 13 either were non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools or teams that went on to lose double-digit games. The last time a regular-season non-conference opponent of Wisconsin's ended the season in the AP top 25 was West Virginia in 2002 — which finished 25th."

Okay, so no one's arguing that the schedule out-of-conference lately has been pretty lackluster. But why? I find it to be a confluence of multiple factors. The Badgers are catching teams on down years. Wisconsin has not scheduled many traditional powers who would in theory be good every season. Will that change in the future? Home-and-homes with Virginia Tech and Washington later in the decade are promising. But the tradition of playing one FCS team a season likely won't end. And what will happen when the Big Ten goes to nine conference games? No team ever has actual control over the strength of their opponents, but the Badgers would be wise to work on strengthening up the out of conference portion of the schedule in the future.

The Badgers moved up to 8th (from 11th) in this week's AP Top 25. And in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, they moved up one spot from 10th to 9th. Clearly, Russell Wilson made an impression on voters.

The week one Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week goes to Russell Wilson. Not sure why, all he did was rack up 317 total offensive yards and three touchdowns. Yawn.

John reported this yesterday, but just another reminder that Ryan Groy will be starting at left guard in place of an injured Travis Frederick this Saturday. Frederick is expected to miss at least two games with a sprained MCL. The Badgers' amazing offensive line depth is very helpful when injuries occur to that position group.

The Packers preseason game garnered three times as many television viewers as the Badgers game in the Milwaukee television market this past Thursday. Would the competition have been closer if Wisconsin's opponent was more formidable than UNLV?

Former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien was signed by the San Francisco 49ers. He will be the Niners' third-string quarterback behind Alex Smith and fellow rookie Colin Kaepernick.

Jeff Potrykus's chats are always informative and he usually has a well-measured view of the Badgers. He's not afraid to tackle a stupid question by immediately pointing out the stupidity, either.

Oregon State has a very similar offense to the Badgers. If in fact both defenses are familiar with the offenses from practice, we could see a defensively-dominated game this weekend.

Finally, I highly suggest you check out Spencer Hall's 'The Alphabetical', detailing the first week of college football letter-by-letter. He relates Russell Wilson to a kind of wine that is best enjoyed after four years of aging.