After a week-one victory in the Nevada desert, the Badgers are back in Madison, set to open their home schedule with a matchup against the San Jose State Spartans.
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1: Something in the air
When your average starting offensive lineman checks in at 6'5"" and 323 pounds and your starting tailback is the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, it's only natural that the lion's share of attention centers on running the football.
It seems only natural that, instead of using my first sports column to sound off on something that I've always had a strong opinion on, I'd feel obligated to begrudgingly admit something I hoped would never, ever be true.
Many UW sports, including women's soccer, jumped in to their regular season schedules before regular production started. Here is a look at where the team has been already this year, and what lies ahead.
As soon as the Badgers defeated the Miami Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl last December, all eyes in Wisconsin shifted to this week. For the returning players, it is a chance to get back into game action. For Badger fans, it is the first chance to see a highly touted group that is expected to contend for a Big Ten championship.
The Big Ten announced divisional alignment Wednesday for the conference starting in 2011 when Nebraska officially becomes a participating member. Since Nebraska officially joined the Big Ten in June, there has been much speculation and anticipation as to how a divisional setup would look.
With expectations high for this year's football team, many are projecting the Badgers to have a win total in the double-digits. It is easy enough to run down the schedule and assign wins and losses on a first-glance basis, but here is an overview of Wisconsin's conference schedule following a preseason featuring UNLV, Arizona State, San Jose State, and Austin Peavy to aid in your pre-season prognostication.
CHICAGO—At the 2010 Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, plenty of talk centered around the addition of Nebraska as the conference's 12th team and the impact it will have on the league. While much of the conversation revolved around topics like division alignment, competitive balance and preserving rivalries, one key detail that impacts all three could be emerging as a potential source of disagreement.
Many of the Badger sports programs have high expectations for the upcoming season. In order for each team to be successful they must stay healthy, play together, do the little things right and other cliches anybody could tell you. At the end of the day, though, certain key players are going to have to come through in big moments.
Head coach Mike Eaves will not be able to immediately replace all of the departing pieces of his roster, but the 2010 Wisconsin men's hockey team is certainly still talented. That point was highlighted on June 26 in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, as sophomore defenseman John Ramage and freshman forward Jason Clark were selected by the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders, respectively.
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Students new to the sports scene on campus in Madison will come to know Barry Alvarez as a guy who, in his role as Athletic Director, should fire this coach or that coach and push ahead plans to improve athletic facilities. He is more recognizable, though, as the football coach that helmed the Badgers during their return to respectability through the 1990s and into this decade.
Change was imminent this offseason for men's hockey head coach Mike Eaves, who had seven seniors graduate from a team that played in the national title game and lost two more underclassmen (so far) who decided to forgo a year of eligibility and sign professional contracts.
One year ago, the Wisconsin football team entered the fall as a damaged product. The team underachieved in 2008, head coach Bret Bielema appeared to be on the hot seat, and many expected another lackluster year. What a difference 10 wins can make.
The record books will list Mike Eaves as head coach of the men's hockey team during its recent run to the national title game, but make no mistake about it: This team belonged to the senior class.
Any time three players with the combined talent of junior running back John Clay, junior wide receiver Nick Toon and sophomore linebacker Chris Borland are not on the field, the game is sure to be less exciting. When that game is essentially a glorified practice, excitement can be very difficult to find.
Inconsistency plagued the Wisconsin men's soccer team at times this last fall, but the squad still had a chance to win the Big Ten championship before falling off late in the season, finishing 7-9-2 overall and 3-3-0 in conference play.
DETROIT—Between bowl games against the SEC and basketball matchups with Michigan State, Wisconsin fans grow tired of the comparison and the notion that Badger sports are more ""grind"" than ""go."" But the men's hockey team has been an exception this year, combining a physical style of play with dynamic athletes and top-tier talent. In Saturday night's national championship contest, however, Boston College put a level of speed on display that UW just could not keep up with for a full 60 minutes.
DETROIT—On paper, Wisconsin looked a lot like the first two teams that Rochester Institute of Technology knocked out of this year's NCAA tournament, hailing from a power conference and possessing top talent, hockey tradition and championship aspirations.