See no BCS, lose no focus

Badgers are far from looking ahead

So you are No. 6 in the BCS, how does that feel?

"Sixth in the BCS," began Wisconsin cornerback Scott Starks, who had over the past few minutes told reporters more than once that he was avoiding the national title rankings, let alone the hype that followed their initial release Monday. "We could be 27th in the nation at the end of the year if we don't finish out the season strong, finish out this game strong.

"It doesn't matter where we are at now. It matters where we are at in December and January."

Starks paused, thought for a moment, then continued, as if answering an unspoken question.

"I know it sounds repetitive but that's the truth and that's how it is in the locker room," he said.

For the 7-0 and sixth-ranked Badger football team, the only concern is this week's preparation for an Oct. 23 date with Northwestern.

"All we have to worry about is being the best team in Camp Randall on Saturday," quarterback John Stocco said. "That's it."

What about the Rose Bowl? Or the Orange Bowl, this year's BCS Championship Game?

"The only thing we are paying attention to is Northwestern," defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne said.

Even with the national spotlight shining brightly on Madison these days, the song remains the same. It is all about being 1-0.

"We're just taking one game at a time cause that's all we can do," Stocco said. "When we do that we will be in the position we want to be in. But right now we have to take care of business and right now it is Northwestern."

"We put the other games behind us," Starks said. "Of course we won the last couple games but that doesn't have anything to do with this week. We have to go into it with a whole different mind frame. We just want to be 1-0 this week."

Wisconsin is No. 6 in the BCS, just four-ten-thousandths of a point ahead of No. 7 Utah. If the season were to end today, the Orange Bowl would match No. 1 USC against No. 2 Miami (Fla.). The top two teams in the initial BCS rankings have never ended up in the BCS title game, however. The Trojans and Hurricanes are two of six remaining undefeated teams in the BCS' top seven. One-loss Florida State is No. 5. A seventh unbeaten, Boise State, is No. 14.

It has never happened in the six years the BCS has existed, but much attention has been placed on the possibility that more than two teams from BCS conferences (Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC) could end their regular seasons undefeated. Utah, which plays in the Mountain West Conference, must be thrown into that mix this year. A mere three additional points in the coaches' poll, for instance, would have put the Utes ahead of the Badgers in Monday's release.

So the possibility certainly exists that an undefeated Wisconsin team could be shut out of the title game.

"I don't even want to address that," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "I just want to concentrate on this football game. I don't want to get out ahead and talk about anything further in the BCS. I don't think that's fair and I don't think that's wise to do."

Why not glance down the street a bit, to the teams that follow Northwestern on the path to Orange Bowl?

If that happens, Hawthorne said, "I think people tend to lose focus on the objective at hand."

After Northwestern (3-3 overall, 2-1 Big Ten), Wisconsin has its bye week, then hosts Minnesota (5-2, 2-2) before traveling to face Michigan State (4-3, 3-1) and Iowa (4-2, 2-1).

"I know Northwestern's a heck of a football team and a very dangerous football team, and that's the only remaining schedule that I'm looking at," Alvarez said, when informed that commentators were cooing at the Badgers' ease of schedule. "Guys, I really don't want to get any further than that. You can ask me any question that you want about the remaining schedule, the BCS and all that, but I'm going to stay on track with this game and I'll discuss that. I'm thrilled because of the fact that this far along in the season that we're ranked as high as we are, but this is an important game for us."

"We could end up 7-4, 7-5 and then everybody would be, ‘what happened to Wisconsin?'" Starks said. "We just have to look forward just to the next [game].

"BCS rankings and where we are right now doesn't have anything to do with where we are going to be at the end. We have to take one game at a time."

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