For about 28 minutes Friday night, Wisconsin looked like a football team that wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to be ranked in the top 10 nationally or the top 10 in its own conference. But the Badgers moved so swiftly and with such dominance in an eventual 59-10 blowout victory against Utah State that they can be forgiven for a jittery start in their season opener.
That’s why I have placed Wisconsin third in our initial Land of 10 Big Ten Power Poll, right behind Penn State and Ohio State. The poll, released Sunday night, consisted of 13 voters — each of whom covers teams across the conference for our website. In the overall vote, Wisconsin came in fourth behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan.
The Badgers trailed 10-0 in the first half against the Aggies before reeling off 59 consecutive points to showcase the very best of this team’s capabilities. That second-half performance resonated when it came time to cast a vote.
Wisconsin appears as though it will be the class of the Big Ten West again, particularly after teams such as Northwestern, Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois struggled to put away their respective opponents until the fourth quarter. Purdue looked more impressive in a 35-28 loss against Louisville and reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson than some of those other division schools. Outside of Wisconsin, only Iowa didn’t have to sweat out a close game late among West division teams.
All those results help to place the Badgers firmly near the top of the Big Ten. If Wisconsin plays up to the level of preseason expectations, the Badgers very well could meet one of the top three East division teams Dec. 2 in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship.
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
Land of 10 vote
- Ohio State (10 No. 1 votes)…166 points
- Penn State (3)…152
- Nebraska…62 (Nebraska had two No. 6 votes to Michigan State’s one No. 6 vote to break the tie)
- Michigan State…62
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