The Wisconsin Badgers aren't going away any time soon.
No, really. I'm not sure how many people out there have Wisconsin's 2011 schedule memorized, but those who don't should know that each of Wisconsin's first six games this season are home games.
Well, except for this weekend's game against Northern Illinois, which will be played at Soldier Field. But because it technically counts as a game at a neutral site, and because Wisconsin is going to be well-represented, I'm going to allow it. Let's call it half a home game.
In any case, not a bad way for the Badgers to start their 2011 season. Their first six games offer a great opportunity for the Badgers to get off a quick 6-0 start. If they do, they'll be on a fast track to BCS glory.
Make no mistake, this Badgers team, currently ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll, has lofty aspirations. They made it to the Rose Bowl last year, and this year they are a legit contender for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. And out of all the other contenders, you could argue that theirs is the easiest road.
The fact that the Badgers get to open with six winnable games has a lot to do with that. It also has a lot to do with the fact that this stretch also happens to include the biggest bump in their road to the BCS title game.
That would be the No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Taylor Martinez and Co. will be in Madison on October 1, and they will meet the Badgers in a clash of titans that will have implications galore. At stake will not only be control of the Big Ten, but the coveted distinction of being the conference's best team.
If the Badgers do emerge from that game 5-0, they stand to climb as high as the top five-assuming they aren't that high already entering the game, of course. At that point, Wisconsin's BCS destiny is going to be in its pocket.
True enough, having to play back-to-back road games against No. 15 Michigan State and No. 17 Ohio State later in October is not going to be easy. You probably don't have to tell the Badgers that.
But let's face it. Wisconsin is a better team than Michigan State, and it is certainly a better team than Ohio State. The Spartans of 2011 are not the same Spartans that took Wisconsin apart last October, and we're talking about a Buckeyes team that could crumble like a house of cards at the slightest breeze. Something tells me that breeze will blow before Wisconsin comes calling. It might even blow this weekend at Miami.
After those two games, Wisconsin is pretty much home free. It will take a major, and I mean major, upset from Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois or Penn State for the Badgers to stumble before they reach the finish line.
Will the Badgers go undefeated, as I am so heavily implying? Believe it or not, I actually think they will. I think they are without a doubt the best team in the Big Ten, and I think they have the added luck of catching the conference during a down year. Wisconsin wasn't so lucky last year, and it still managed to emerge as the Big Ten's best squad.
If that happens again this year, the BCS title game may be waiting. If not, the Rose Bowl will have to do.
If Wisconsin wins, it can't lose.
(Courtesy of the Bleacher Report)