Profiles of the Big 10: Wisconsin

Let's start this one off with my favorite Wisconsin joke: 

What sign do you see on a gas station in Wisconsin if there isn't another one for 15 miles? 

Last chance for beer! 

That pretty much sums up the state - the land of beer and cheese. 

I do a fair amount of work in Wisconsin and I can attest to the fact that it's a great place to visit. They seriously do beer and cheese better than any state in the nation. If you ain't into cheese curds and have never heard of Leinenkugels, you're missing out. Every bar is a restaurant and every restaurant a bar, and Happy Hour starts at three no matter what day it is. The state is sixth in per capita beer consumption at 37.4 gallons per citizen per year (for comparison, Nebraska is eighth at 36.2), and it seems like everywhere you look there's a microbrewery. 

Oh, yeah, this is a Badgers article, isn't it? 

The Wisconsin Badgers have always seemed like a northern branch of Nebraska football since Barry Alvarez came along. Alvarez played his college football at Nebraska under Bob Devaney from 1966-68 (along with Frank Solich), and later coached high school football at Lexington. He became Wisconsin's head coach in 1990, won three Big 10 titles and three Rose Bowls, while establishing a 118-73-4 record, making him the winningest coach in Wisconsin history. In 2004, he assumed the position of athletic director, allowing Brett Bielema to take over as head coach. Bielema has done a good job for them, going 12-1 in his first season after taking over from Alvarez in 2006 while establishing a 38-14 record over his career. 

The Badgers' home stadium is Camp Randall, a place that should be on everyone's must see list of stadiums (see aforementioned beer consumption and happy people) for the simple fact that they always look like they're having fun. They do this "Jump Around" thing in the fourth quarter that's supposedly to get everyone fired up, but I suspect it's to determine who's too drunk to stand and have their ass carted out of the stadium. Maybe some Badger fans can fill us in on how that started. 

Some more similarities on the "Nebraska North" thing. They're red, they have a red "W" on their helmets instead of a "N", and they still play a bruising brand of football, with big backs running behind big offensive linemen. They like beer, Nebraskans like beer. Camp Randall seats around 80,000, although I've never heard of Badger fans referring to themselves as "A Sea of Red". The only possible negative about them is that Kevin Cosgrove was their defensive coordinator before coming to Nebraska. Note that Cosgrove's wikipedia entry contains this information: 

Kevin is most noted for his ability to take a relatively well performing defense and modify it to allow higher numbers in Rushing Defense, Passing Defense and Scoring Defense.

so it's probably a given that Badger fans were happy when he left for Nebraska. If that's the case, then they owe us way more than one. More like they owe us a case or two at the least. 

Wisconsin basketball isn't too shabby either. They advanced to the Final Four in 2000 under head coach Dick Bennett, and won the conference as recently as the 2007 season. They regularly make the NCAA tournament, so they'd probably beat us most of the time in basketball. 

How would Nebraska football fair against the Badgers? The two teams have met only five times, with Nebraska having a 3-2 record. The last meeting was in 1974, a 21-20 Husker loss. I would suspect that we'd beat them more than they beat us going forward. 

Wisconsin plays Minnesota for Paul Bunyan's axe (before 1948 they played for a "Slab Of Bacon"). They also play Iowa for the Heartland Trophy. As far as a trophy between Nebraska and Wisconsin - do you really have to think too hard about what I might suggest? 

(Incidentally, I had an encounter with a badger as a young un'. When I was about nine, some older guys encouraged me to jump out of the pickup we were in and "chase that badger to his hole". Being eager to please, I did. Everything was fine until it stopped about five to ten feet away from it's hole. Not being a complete fool, I stopped as well. The badger turned around, and in a moment of non-verbal communication between man and beast, I sensed a change in our relationship. It proceeded to chase me back to the pickup to the sound of uproarious laughter, and then slowly walked away having proven it's point.)

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