Let the Title Chase Begin

With Nebraska out of the way, for now, No.4 Wisconsin is conscious of its standing in the national polls, and how staying with the '1-0' mentality will get them where they want to go.

MADISON – Even though his program's national cachet is at an all-time high following Saturday's 48-17 victory over Nebraska, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema maintains it's a good time to have a week off.

Bielema and his staff have been able to catch up on recruiting, let injured Badgers heal and plan a Saturday spent in front of the TV instead of on the sideline. On the screen: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No.10 Texas in Dallas.

"That game might be on the agenda," Bielema said. "I hopefully am going to wear my remote out."

Wisconsin (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) has been on a steady climb in the polls since beginning the season No. 10 in the coaches' rankings with 829 points. After the rout of No. 8 Nebraska, the Badgers are No. 5 with 1,236 points and one first-place vote.

Bielema won't reveal if Wisconsin's first-place vote was his, citing that the votes in that poll aren't disclosed until the final week of the regular season, but admits he is conscious of how the polls – his team is ranked No. 4 by AP -- have a part in determining the participants in the BCS national championship game.

"In this profession, the polls matter," Bielema said this week. "I do think our kids, in the bigger picture, take one game at a time. That's our mentality. They also understand … at the end of the year, if you're sitting in a good spot, anything can happen. I continue to think our guys have gotten better every week. That's the exciting part."

So even though Wisconsin is going to be out of the spotlight this week, the Badgers are doing everything they can to hold the interest of the national media after being the talk of college football last week leading up to Nebraska's first Big Ten game. Bielema has been offered an appearance by ESPN officials for Friday, although nothing is finalized, and senior quarterback Russell Wilson made appearances Tuesday on the "Dan Patrick Show" and ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" to talk about his and the team's performance.

"I think if there is ever a time that you can let some of this national exposure be a little bit more than normal it's on a bye week," Bielema said. "And if there is a kid that can handle it, it is Russell Wilson. He's pretty composed in every venue we put him in."

As the Badgers take to the talk-show circuit, that same circuit has already started to break down Wisconsin's chances to participate in the national title game. No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Stanford are ahead of Wisconsin in the coaches' poll, and LSU (No.1), Alabama (No. 2) and Oklahoma (No. 3) are ahead of the Badgers in AP's rankings. The first BCS rankings will be released Oct. 16, and Wisconsin will spend the rest of its season both benefiting from playing in a conference perceived as weaker than the Big 12, SEC and Pac-10 – the teams in front of the Badgers are more likely to suffer a loss – and being hindered against those teams in the rankings if Wisconsin is involved in a beauty pageant of undefeated programs.

That's why Bielema this week dismissed the notion that adding a Big Ten championship game to his team's schedule this season will be a concern if the Badgers have positioned themselves for a berth in the national championship.

"I know there have been teams and situations in the past that teams lose that game lose that (BCS) opportunity, but the BCS is an elite level," Bielema said. "The more you can defend your right to be there, the better off everybody is."

In order for Wisconsin to get the chance for BCS fortune and glory, the Badgers will need to keep winning and get some help along the way. Wisconsin is standing strong in the preliminary BCS computer polls (which make up a third of the BCS formula), ranking sixth or better in three of the four polls that have released data. Problem is the Badgers have just two ranked opponents -- at No. 20 Michigan State on Oct. 22 and at No. 16 Illinois on Nov.9 -- left on their regular-season schedule, which means the computer numbers could take a hit and the strength of Wisconsin's lackluster nonconference schedule could play a factor.

But, as Wilson aptly puts it, Wisconsin can't win all the games until they win the next one.

"We know we have a great team, but we still have a lot more work to do," he said. "It's our goal to get better every single week. Every opportunity we get is a blessing. We just have to come out and win one game at a time and see what happens from there."

Even though there isn't a game this week to prepare for, Bielema stressed to his team Sunday how important this week is from a mental and physical preparation standpoint. Bielema revealed this week that Wisconsin actually practiced about 45 minutes less per day leading up to the Nebraska game than it did the a week earlier while getting ready for South Dakota.

"We practiced less against a higher competition, in theory, and performed, in my opinion, even better," Bielema said. "That made an impression to me that it's not the volume, it's how you work and how you prepare."

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