Coming into this season I wasn’t convinced that Wisconsin’s talent was good enough to deserve the #9th overall ranking they were given. They had lost too many good players in the offseason, either due to injury, the draft or eligibility and hadn’t really replaced them at the level I had hoped. I was convinced, however, that they had a team that could still compete for a National Championship simply because they are being coached by Paul Chryst. If you’ve ever heard Coach Chryst speak, he always says the right thing, not because he has to or because it’s what the media wants to hear. He says it because it’s what he actually believes. I saw last year that he is capable of making good players great and in turning a difficult schedule to his favor. That’s why I wasn’t completely afraid when I saw that the Badgers actually had what looks on paper to be a cakewalk in 2017. To the casual fan that seems to be a good thing but in a league that doesn’t have a legitimate playoff system it can be devastating. Winning just isn’t good enough. You have to control every game and blow out the opposition. If you don’t, you can fall back in the standings even after a “W” as was evidenced by the Badgers in week 2. The first thing a weak schedule can do is make you relax as it appeared Wisconsin actually did in the opening game. It can also make you panic and try too hard to score points, as it appeared the Badgers may have done last week. The good thing is that they are coached by a levelheaded man who never seems to let them get too “up” or too “down” no matter what the scoreboard or the standings say and that played in their favor today as they dished out a whooping to what many thought was their toughest opponent so far. The reality is that the Badgers benefited more from a win against BYU than they would have suffered from a loss or a lower scored victory. The Cougars aren’t as good this year as they have been in the past but they still carry some prestige. If the Badgers hadn’t blown them out they would only be affected by the Cougars results and schedule. Now that they beat them solidly, they not only get the win, they also get a boost from their opponents reputation.
There is still a long way to go in the schedule and as any true sports fan knows, anything can happen. This team is focused on a much higher goal and Coach Chryst will make sure that they don’t lose sight of it. Next week they have a much more solid test and we will see if they are up to the task of putting away the rest of the easy teams on their quest for the Championship.