“When you commit the University of Wisconsin, you’re a special person,” Biegel said Wednesday. “When the University gives you a scholarship here, it’s for a reason. It’s for guys who can handle these big time moments. Obviously this is uncharted territory for our football team to be ranked seventh in the college football rankings. We’re proud of that. We’ve got mature young men on this football team that can handle it.”
The scenario is simple for No.7 Wisconsin: win the final three games to win the Big Ten West and advance to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Dec.3. More likely than not, the Badgers will face one of the two teams that beat them in October – Michigan or Ohio State.
If UW (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) wins that game, the Badgers have a great argument to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.
Lose against Illinois (3-6, 2-4) on Saturday, the playoffs are gone and the Badgers again need a loss by Nebraska in the final three weeks of the season.
“Fans think the brunt of our schedule is done, that can’t be further from the truth,” Biegel said, as UW finishes at Purdue (3-6) and home against Minnesota (7-2). “Our room for error is very small. We have to go out there and execute. Every single week we have to take care of business, get wins, if we want to be Big Ten West champions.”
According to Biegel, head coach Paul Chryst addressed the team prior to position meetings, reminding them to focus on each day and the carrot at the end of the road.
“To be able to be ranked seventh in the country right now, representing this great university, we’re very proud. We’re going to go out there, continue to play good Wisconsin football and that’s taking care of business every week so we can be in those conversations about the playoff.”
Depth Chart Debut
Bradrick Shaw appeared on the depth chart for the first time this season. The redshirt freshman is listed as the co-No. 2 running back with Dare Ogunbowale.
Shaw had 11 carries for 54 yards in UW’s win at Northwestern on Saturday after only receiving four carries through the Badgers’ first five conference games.
Saying he feels he’s able to go out and compete without hesitation, allowing to hit the hole at full speed and have more self-control, Shaw’s emergence gives UW another option in the backfield
“I think (three tailbacks is) going to benefit us because we’re finally starting to pick up our running game,” Shaw said.
Wisconsin’s 2017 Opener Moved
The polarizing Big Ten Friday night schedule was released on Tuesday afternoon and Wisconsin finds itself as one of the eight teams participating.
Along with Washington traveling to Rutgers, Wisconsin will open the 2017 season against Utah State on Friday, Sept.1 as part of the conference initiative to play six games over the next six years on ABC/ESPN, FOX or the Big Ten Network on Friday nights.
The other Friday night games in 2017 include Ohio at Purdue (Sept.8), Nebraska at Illinois (Sept.29), Northwestern at Maryland (Oct.13) and Michigan State at Northwestern (Oct.27).
It will be the first time Wisconsin played a regular season home game not on Saturday since opening the 2011 season on a Thursday.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said the school would be willing to participate but only willing to host a home game if it was the Friday before Labor Day.
The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association released a statement shortly after the announcement expressing the disappointment.
“The plan by the Big Ten to televise six games on Friday nights next year is very disturbing,” WFCA Executive Director Dan Brunner said in a statement. “The thought of the Badgers being involved in one of those games is especially upsetting. Many of our coaches and their players look forward to attending or viewing Badger games on Saturdays. A lot of them have former players playing for the Badgers. It would also have a negative effect on attendance at high school games, especially in Madison, when the Badgers are playing.”
The statement added that the organization was not consulted on this decision by the Big Ten or Wisconsin in regards to how the Friday night games will negatively impact high school football in the state. Other high school associations across the Midwest have also released statements expressing their disappointment in the move.
“(Fridays) are about high school football,” Brunner said. “The Big Ten’s decision to infringe on that deeply-rooted tradition creates obstacles to the long-term success of the game at every level.”
While he won’t be involved in the game, Ogunbowale – a former in-state athlete at Milwaukee Marquette – will be an interested observer.
“I was joking with the young guys about it and they’re glad that it’s early in the season,” he said. “You want to be able to fill the stadium up. It’s going to be cool. It’s going to be different. I know when we’re in the hotels on Friday, it’s cool to watch the Friday night games. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.”