There was absolutely nothing Wisconsin could do on Friday vs. Western Kentucky to gain the national spotlight in a positive way. Even if the Badgers were to match a performance like Oklahoma’s 63–14 win over Florida Atlantic, you know it wouldn’t produce the same hype because Oklahoma is a bigger brand and FAU is currently a more interesting program than Western Kentucky.
As the sun set on Camp Randall, a moderately chaotic weekend of college football rose to chip away at the ego of several major programs. Many of these programs are seeing their teams getting raked by the national press.
Jonathan Taylor’s Heisman Trophy candidate counterpart Bryce Love struggled against San Diego State in Stanford’s 31–10 win.
Michigan lost its 17th consecutive road game to ranked teams, falling seven points short to No. 12 Notre Dame. Former Michigan standout and BTN analyst Braylon Edwards was suspended for being a little too mad at Jim Harbaugh.
Texas again showed that it’s Rutgers with lipstick after losing another season opener to Maryland, and coach Tom Herman isn’t the savior that the Longhorns originally prophesied. It’s getting so bad over there that they are quoting common high school English class novels. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Lennie or George on my football team.
Penn State nearly got Michigan’d by Appalachian State on the 11-year anniversary of the Mountaineers’ upset win in Ann Arbor, and Michigan State needed a top-10 worthy play to avoid the upset by Utah State.
Miami made it four consecutive losses, and the turnover chain hype seems to have faded.
Florida State didn’t even show up in its 24–3 loss at home to Virginia Tech.
Of course, an Ohio state university is still in the media for all the wrong reasons in spite of its 77–31 victory over THE Oregon State University. Wait, these Buckeyes gave up 31 points? Maybe that’s not a national story, but their defense is a significant local concern.
Overall, one of the major national talking points is the rapid depreciation of offensive line play, specifically at major programs (mostly the ones listed above).
Maybe my biggest takeaway from Week 1 is how much offensive line play has dramatically declined at so many "name-brand" programs. Whether it's recruiting, development, combo of both or just reality, programs must re-evaluate who they're getting and what they're doing with them.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) September 4, 2018
The teams that are noted for having good-to-great offensive lines are a pretty small list, and that has given teams like Alabama, Ohio State, and, yes, Wisconsin some national radio love early this week.
This is a critical development for Wisconsin, as teams like Florida State, Texas, USC, Miami, LSU, and Michigan are all second-fiddle when it comes to the trenches. Sure, Wisconsin’s offensive line did not play its best game Friday night, but that unit certainly is not the unmitigated disaster found on teams like Florida State and Michigan.
The national media isn’t there yet, but offensive line play is perhaps the spark that will cause a re-ordering of traditional college football powerhouses.
Apart from Wisconsin’s brief praise for having a good line, its victory over Western Kentucky did get some national attention, but not for a reason you might expect.
And there is Paul Chryst, somehow avoiding the distraction of the national spotlight. Surely it is easier to avoid attention at Wisconsin than, say, Florida State, but notice how Chris Petersen and Washington can’t get seem to get a break.
There will be plenty of opportunities for Wisconsin to make national headlines in the coming months. For certain matchups, the limelight is going to be unavoidable. But for now, the Badgers should be content to continue flying below the radar.