UW in position for a BCS bowl
Just don't expect the Badgers to talk about it any time soon.
Wisconsin returned from a much-needed bye week with the highest ranking for a Big Ten team in The Associated Press Top 25. It moved up two spots to No. 7, one ahead of Ohio State.
Previously undefeated Michigan State lost 37-6 at Iowa on Saturday, improving the Badgers' chances of making it to a BCS bowl for the first time since the 2000 Rose Bowl.
"That doesn't affect anything we do," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Monday, talking about the Spartans' loss. "It obviously puts us into a tying position in the Big Ten race, with where we stand right now. But if we don't take care of our business this week, it's all for naught."
After a four-game stretch that included trips to Michigan State and Iowa and home victories against Minnesota and Ohio State, the Badgers' schedule seems to ease up for the next month. Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1) is at Purdue on Saturday, then home for Indiana and at Michigan before finishing the regular season with a home game against Northwestern.
Even with the bye, the Badgers will carry some momentum into the game against the Boilermakers. Wisconsin is coming off consecutive victories over the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes.
"They invested a lot into that Ohio State game and to go out and play the way they did ... I was worried about them responding going back into the Iowa week," said Bielema, whose team won 31-30 in Iowa City on Oct. 23. "We knew it was going to be a dogfight going into the Iowa game, and then the way certain guys had to respond, I knew that they were just going to be emotionally drained."
With that in mind, Bielema gave his team a couple days off after the victory at Kinnick Stadium. After the extra rest, he was encouraged by their response last week in practice.
With several major contributors expected to return from injuries, Wisconsin looks primed for a strong finish.
"It's good to be back in game week," Bielema said. "I think our kids are going to be excited to play."