A new decade reigns in 3 conference champions. 3. With Nebraska joining the Big Ten and a conference title game in place next year, there will never be a co-champion again. Unless it's within a division, in which case gets decided via tiebreakers.
From 2000 to 2010: What happened? Well, Iowa shared a pair of Big Ten titles, Ohio State had an amazing run of success after Cooper's downfall from 99-2000, and Michigan went downhill. Wisconsin went from mediocre 7th place or worse team at the beginning of the decade to a team that was in the mix for the conference just about every year. Indiana didn't contend. Illinois actually won the Big Ten outright but then had a run of futility that lasted the better part of a decade. Michigan State went through a run of mediocrity equal to Wisconsin's. Minnesota was Minnesota. Penn State went through the dark years before rising from the grave and winning the conference. And Purdue was always in the middle of the conference, never really rising to the top or sinking to the bottom.
After the jump: A look at Wisconsin, a team that didn't win the conference from 2000 to 2009 but was usually a factor in the race nonetheless.
Part Two: The Teams Wisconsin didn't face as much (Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois)
Part Three: The Rest of the Big Ten (Michigan, Penn State, and Indiana)
Part Four: Wisconsin's Infamous Nonconference Schedule
Wisconsin Coaches: Alvarez from 1990 to 2005, Bielema from 2006 to present
2000 record: 9-4, 4-4 Big Ten, Won Sun Bowl over UCLA
2001 record: 5-7, 3-5 Big Ten, no bowl
2002 record: 8-6, 2-6 Big Ten, Won Alamo Bowl over Colorado
2003 record: 7-6, 4-4 Big Ten, Lost Music City Bowl to Auburn
2004 record: 9-3, 6-2 Big Ten, Lost Outback Bowl to Georgia
2005 record: 10-3, 5-3 Big Ten, Won Capital One Bowl over Auburn
2006 record: 12-1, 7-1 Big Ten, Won Capital One Bowl over Arkansas
2007 record: 9-4, 5-3 Big Ten, Lost Outback Bowl to Tennessee
2008 record: 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten, Lost Champs Sports Bowl to Florida State
2009 record: 10-3, 5-3 Big Ten, Won Champs Sports Bowl over Miami
2010 record: 11-2, 7-1 Big Ten, Lost Rose Bowl to TCU
Wisconsin finished with an overall losing record once, a losing conference record 3 times, and .500 in conference play twice. From 2000 to 2003, the Badgers finished no higher than 5th in the Big Ten (2000), and at worst 8th (2002). Without the 9-0 run in 2004, there's no guarantee at all that Alvarez would have even remained for the 10-win 2005 season.
Rivals: Iowa and Minnesota, arguably Northwestern and Ohio State
vs. Iowa: 5-6
2000 W 13-7
2001 W 34-28
2002 L 20-3
2003 L 27-21
2004 L 30-7
2005 L 20-10
2006 W 24-21
2007 W 17-13
2008 L 38-17
2009 L 20-10
2010 W 31-30
Iowa really had Wisconsin's number. The Badgers weren't able to beat on the really bad Iowa teams (2000-2001) and got flat-out beaten by the good Iowa teams (2002, 2004, and 2008). The 2005 game was an exercise in frustration, and it was Barry's 4th consecutive loss to the Hawkeyes. Fry and Ferentz could beat on Alvarez like few others.
vs. Minnesota: 9-2
2000 W 41-24
2001 L 41-23
2002 W 49-31
2003 L 37-34
2004 W 38-14
2005 W 38-34
2006 W 48-12
2007 W 17-13
2008 W 35-32
2009 W 31-28
2010 W 41-23
Wisconsin was enormously successful against Minnesota. Unlike Iowa, Minnesota simply wasn't good enough to contend with Wisconsin in most seasons, but they still managed to give the Badgers fits in Minneapolis. When good Wisconsin teams took on Minnesota in Madison, the Gophers usually got rocked. Minnesota hasn't won in Madison since 1994.
vs. Ohio State: 4-5, 4-4 vs. Tressel
2000: L 23-7
2001: W 20-17
2002: L 19-14
2003: W 17-10
2004: W 24-13
2007: L 38-17
2008: L 20-17
2009: L 31-13
2010: W 31-18
Wisconsin managed to make Jim Tressel's life quite hectic. Even in 2007, when the Badgers lost by 21, they still managed to take a 17-10 lead before the overwhelming Ohio State defense and special teams shut down Tyler Donovan. One of the worst Wisconsin teams of the decade hung with the Buckeyes for 4 quarters in 2008 before Allan Evr*dge happened. And the Badger defense shut down Terrelle Pryor in Columbus the next year, holding the Buckeye offense almost completely in check. However, Ohio State's opportunistic defense made Scott Tolzien pay dearly for a pair of interceptions and Ray Small who back a kick for a touchdown.
If Bielema made Tressel's life hectic, Alvarez made it miserable. The Badgers beat the Buckeyes 3 out of the 4 times Tressel and he faced off, 2 of them in Columbus. Including 1999, Alvarez's teams won each of his final three trips to Ohio Stadium.
vs. Northwestern: 3-4
2000 L 47-44
2003 L 16-7
2004 W 24-12
2005 L 51-48
2006 W 41-9
2009 L 33-31
2010 W 70-23
This is one bizarre series. Northwestern managed to win the games in Ryan Field; Wisconsin won the games at Camp Randall...with the exception of the 2000 game. And considering the crazy scores of the 2000, 2005, and 2009 games, it's surprising that all of them DIDN'T involve multiple overtimes (2000 required double overtime). The 2010 game was crazy as well (because Northwestern insisted on giving Wisconsin the football repeatedly).