Having covered high school football the past two Friday nights, I feel like we're closer to the heart of the football season than the start.
The University of Wisconsin will start its season tonight (Thursday) hosting UNLV. It's a season of high hopes for the Badgers as they have a preseason ranking of anywhere from ninth to 11th depending on what poll you're looking at.
As part of a schedule anomaly, Wisconsin hosts eight of its 12 regular season games this season. The first six Badger games are to be played at Camp Randall Stadium.
In the last five years under coach Bret Bielema, the Badgers have a record of 49-16. In the last six years, Wisconsin has a ridiculous home field record of 43-4. Bucky likes playing in Madison... Bielema also has earned a reputation of running up the score on opponents. That's something that was unheard of under Barry Alvarez. However, after Wisconsin put up 83 points against Indiana last year, it's hard to deny Bielema wants the BCS to know Wisconsin exists.
Thursday night's game against UNLV will be Broadcast on ESPN.
The Big 10 is quite a bit different this year as it has added Nebraska and split into two divisions.
The Big Ten will include a "Leaders" division featuring Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin; and a "Legends" division featuring Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern.
How does this make sense? It's difficult to say. Obviously an east-west alignment would seem logical. West being Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Northwestern; and East being Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana. But, we're talking about conferences and athletic associations, so logic just doesn't figure into the picture.
Under the new alignment, each school will play the other five schools within its division and will also face three teams from the other division, including one cross-division matchup guaranteed on an annual basis. The guaranteed cross-division matchups are Illinois-Northwestern, Indiana-Michigan State, Ohio State-Michigan, Penn State-Nebraska, Purdue-Iowa and Wisconsin-Minnesota.
The regular season winner of the Leaders and Legends divisions will play in a league championship game each year. The first has been scheduled for Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.
The Badgers get the first crack at Nebraska as a member of the Big 10 Conference on Oct. 1. The Cornhuskers are a perennial powerhouse. In Nebraska, they have one, sport - football. And the whole state has one team it cheers for - the Cornhuskers.
There are all sorts of jokes out there about Nebraska football fans...
Things you'll never hear a Nebraska football fan say:
-- I'll take Shakespeare for $1,000, Alex.
-- I thought Graceland was tacky.
-- We're vegetarians.
-- I've got it all on the C: drive.
-- Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
-- Has anybody seen the sideburns trimmer?
-- Let's go to the museum.
Q: Why don't Cornhuskers eat M&M's?
A: They're too hard to peel.
Q: How do you keep a Nebraska fan busy?
A: Write ‘Please turn over' on both sides of a piece of paper.
Q: Why did the Nebraska fan get rid of his freezer?
A: He got tired of cutting the ice into little squares to fit into the trays.
Q: How do you get a Nebraska graduate off your front porch?
A: You pay for the pizza.
Q: How many Nebraska students does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: One, and they get four credits for it.
Isn't it funny how these jokes would apply to Ioweigans, too?
E-mail Matt Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.