It's really long but ok.
Wisconsin is the girl next door. You know the type: smart, dependable and pretty in an average sort of way -- not the drop-dead gorgeous looks of Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson or Halle Berry. Guys don't dream of a date with the girl next door. The girl next door is taken for granted and ignored. To the BCS, the 10-1 Badgers are the girl next door and won't likely get a date to the BCS party.
The soon-to-be 11-1 Badgers (after facing Buffalo on Saturday) sit at No. 9 in the current BCS Rankings -- with five other one-loss teams ahead of them (USC, Florida, Notre Dame, Arkansas and West Virginia). And hardly anyone outside of Madison is screaming that the Badgers aren't being treated fairly.
The most cited reason for casually dismissing the Badgers from the BCS discussion is that their schedule isn't as strong as the other one-loss teams. After all, the Badgers didn't have to play Ohio State this year and their nonconference schedule was soft (Bowling Green, San Diego State, Western Illinois and Buffalo).
But there is a case to be made for Wisconsin. That "soft" schedule is comparable to the schedules of West Virginia and Rutgers. The only ranked team West Virginia faced was Louisville, and Louisville was the only ranked team that Rutgers faced. Similarly, Wisconsin faced 10-0 Michigan.
Ah, Meeee-chigan. Michigan provides an interesting comparison between Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Both played Michigan. Both have one loss. But that's where the comparison ends. Michigan blew out Notre Dame 41-26, and the game wasn't even that close. Michigan jumped out to a 34-7 lead in the first half. On the other hand, Michigan struggled with Wisconsin. That game was tied 10-10 until late in the third quarter before Michigan went on to win 27-13.
So why is one-loss Notre Dame ranked ahead of one-loss Wisconsin? Because Wisconsin is the girl next door and Notre Dame is the sexy, glamorous woman every guy wants to date. Wisconsin doesn't have an NFL top pick and cover boy quarterback like Notre Dame's [link=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/player/profile?playerId=150329]Brady Quinn[/link]. There's no All-American wide receiver/Chicago Cubs pitcher like [link=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/player/profile?playerId=150332]Jeff Samardzija[/link]. But one can make a strong argument that Wisconsin should be ranked ahead of No. 5 Notre Dame. Notre Dame hasn't played a tough opponent since its loss to Michigan and should have three losses, if Michigan State and UCLA had not snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by blowing fourth-quarter leads to the Irish.
And the girl next door doesn't compare to the new gal, either. Rutgers and Wake Forest both found glass slippers and might join the BCS party. Wisconsin isn't Cinderella. Nor is Wisconsin college football royalty, like one-loss USC or undefeated Michigan and Ohio State -- teams that are expected to attend the BCS party every year. Even though Wisconsin spent most of the '90s dominating the Big Ten and Rose Bowl under Barry Alvarez, the Badgers aren't currently considered college football royalty. Wisconsin is overshadowed regularly by Ohio State and Michigan; it's hard to be considered royalty when two of the biggest members in the royal court reside in the same conference.
Nope. Wisconsin isn't any of those things. Rather, Wisconsin is wide-bodied freshman running back [link=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/player/profile?playerId=180057]P.J. Hill[/link] (5-foot-11, 245 pounds). He's not a breathtakingly fast runner like [link=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/player/profile?playerId=174468]Steve Slaton[/link] of West Virginia. He's just steady and powerful and has cruised quietly to fifth in NCAA rushing with 1,447 yards. Wisconsin is steady, solid defense (allowing just 13 points per game), without the exciting picks (just six interceptions) or caused fumbles (ranked No. 60 with 19 takeaways -- far behind Ohio State's 31 takeaways).
Apparently, good, old-fashioned, solid play isn't sexy enough to be invited to the BCS party. More than likely, Wisconsin will have to take its spectacular record to the Capital One Bowl. That's too bad because the girl next door and her thousands of cheesehead fans would look awfully good in a BCS bowl. Rod Gilmore is an ESPN college football analyst and a regular contributor to Insider.
"If I caught 756, I'd take a sharpie out of my pocket and draw on asterisk on it then hand it to Barry for free."