Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Erickson: Sizing up Big Ten season

Ever since I was a little kid I have celebrated four major holidays: My birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving and the football season opener.

Football is that beautiful time between summer and my birthday where – in the days of my youth – Brett Favre shouted “Blue 58” every down like his life depended on it and a hot chocolate awaited me at every Packer game.

As the years have gone by some things have changed – Aaron Rodgers anyone? – but football season still holds a special place in my heart. With every touchdown I celebrate as if I just got the best birthday present ever and yell at the coaches with every poorly called play. It truly is a love affair.


Up until I committed to being a Badger all I ever cared about was professional football and my beloved Packers, but after paying closer attention to the Badgers, I proceeded to fall in love with Wisconsin football and ultimately Big Ten football.

Instead of waiting for Sunday or the occasional Monday night, my weekends in the fall have become fully devoted to football.

While I do have this new-ish love for Big Ten football, non-conference games against small teams that Wisconsin should handle with ease isn’t exactly the most exciting football of all time. But the Big Ten season itself hosts some of the most competitive football where it seems almost impossible to predict a winner with 100 percent confidence.

On the other hand, some games are just too easy to call.

With the Big Ten season starting this weekend it’s time to get down to gritty, tough football.

Through four games, six Big Ten teams find themselves in the AP Top 25 – No. 2 Ohio State, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 17 Iowa, No. 19 Michigan, No. 22 Penn State and No. 24 Michigan State.

While the other five teams may not be recognized nationally they’re still very capable of creating upsets – need I remind you of Nov. 21, 2009 when Northwestern outplayed Wisconsin to a 33-31 decision.

Much like last season, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa are the teams to beat this year in the Big Ten.

With Terrelle Pryor in serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy and his stunning performance in the Rose Bowl last year, Ohio State seems like the runaway favorite as the Big Ten Champion. While anything can happen in any Big Ten match up, Iowa and Wisconsin are the only teams who, at this point, seem to stand a chance in bringing down the strong Ohio State squad. With home field advantage on both Wisconsin and Iowa’s side, Ohio State will definitely be tested and have to prove they’re as good as the nation believes.

That being said, if the Hawkeyes or the Badgers have any hope of knocking the Buckeyes off their Big Ten throne then they have to upset them at home.

So can it happen?

It’s pretty common knowledge that Camp Randall is a hard place to visit and leave with another check in the win column. Last season the Badgers only dropped one game at home, which was against Iowa. In the past five seasons the Badgers have only lost four times at home.

The last time Ohio State entered Camp Randall they walked away with a 20-17 victory, and if it weren’t for their special teams and defense last year the Badgers could have easily made that game a lot closer.

If the Badgers can keep it together and stay strong there’s always a chance they could defeat the Buckeyes and find their way to another Rose Bowl.

But before I get too ahead of myself, Iowa is still a good team, despite their ranking. In fact, Iowa is a team Wisconsin and Ohio State need to keep an eye on.

Although Iowa lost to Arizona earlier in the season they’re still a tough team that has the fire power on offense to put a lot of points on the scoreboard and the nation’s best defense to keep the opponent out of the endzone. While there’s still a question mark as far as the depth at the running back position, the Hawkeyes don’t seem too concerned that it will keep them from winning games.

Honestly, I think Iowa still has a better chance than Wisconsin at knocking Ohio State off their Big Ten throne – though I hate to admit it. Last season the Hawkeyes went into Ohio Stadium and fought for a second half comeback that drove the game into overtime. While they lost by a mere field goal, imagine how the game will play out when the Hawkeyes have home field advantage. Let’s just say I believe and strongly hope the Hawkeyes are able to pull off a victory over the Buckeyes this year.

Ultimately I have this nagging feeling Ohio State will most likely be the Big Ten champion, but I also can’t ignore the fact they could play in the National Championship game – at this rate anyways. But don’t worry Badger fans, we still have Rose Bowl hopes.

First things first though, Wisconsin needs to travel to East Lansing and prove to the Big Ten they are one of the top three teams. Iowa has to host Penn State and show they are still a strong squad worthy of the No. 9 ranking they started the season out with. As for the rest, they know anything can happen any given Saturday, they just have to hit the gridiron and show that I’m most likely underestimating all of them to some extent.

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