LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 04: A Wisconsin Badgers cheerleader runs a flag through the end zone after a Wisconsin touchdown against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium September 4 2010 in Las Vegas Nevada. Wisconsin won 41-21. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This post was supposed to be up days ago. Then, life got in the way and well... you know how that goes. It took me a long time to try to figure out what to write about this game. I started with a by-the-numbers preview, but it just felt kind of stale. Then I started writing ramblings about the great state of Wisconsin, but quickly got lost in a thicket of unrelated anecdotes.
So now I'm here. I don't have that much to say -- I woke up this morning a mixture of nerves and excitement. The first time since 1999 that Wisconsin has played in this game... of course I'm happy about it. But, of course, it's also the first time that a Big Ten team has taken on a non-AQ school. What if we lose? Or even lose badly? How will that look?
If we were taking on Stanford or, say, Oregon, today... a loss would suck, but it wouldn't have earth shattering implications for our claims of conference superiority. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. I mean, we'll always be better than the ACC and the Big East, just because... well.. it's sort of like gravity. It's an immutable principle of the universe.
But beyond my general anxiety over the implications of a loss, I've been feeling this weird sort of confusion over the fact that Wisconsin is such an underdog in this game. All the Vegas lines I've seen, and all the simulations seem to suggest that TCU will win handily this afternoon. But, I think the Badgers are a better team than that. I've watched them all season, and they have very few flaws. I've been backing them as the Rose Bowl team (if not the best team in the Big Ten) since way back when everyone thought that Ohio State would leapfrog them in the standings. So, I don't quite understand it. I'm sort of feeling crazy. I mean, we have three near 1,000 yard backs, a solid quarterback in Scott Tolzien, the best offensive line in college football, and a monster pass rush in J.J. Watt. And you're telling me we aren't going to win this game? What am I missing? I just don't understand...
So that's the question. Are all the oddsmakers and prognosticators wrong? Or am I just crazy?