Captain Al Johnson wasn't aware the Badgers dropped two spots in the polls this week until a reporter brought it up Wednesday afternoon. He swore the subject never came up because the team was too busy getting prepared for the UNLV game.
Even though classes haven't started yet, the UW players are devoting every ounce of energy to getting the season off to a good start. Last season, early devastating losses against Fresno State and Oregon set the tone for what would be a disappointing season. The Badgers believe with a couple of early victories, things will begin rolling in the right direction.
And the way the season opening victory transpired might have drawn the team a little bit closer.
"We didn't want to be in that situation, down three times in the game and having to come back, but on the other hand, it's a good sign to see that," Johnson said. "Because you are going to have games like that where the momentum swings and it's good to see that we ended up on top."
Johnson said he's been around too many games where the Badgers didn't overcome adversity to not understand the importance of putting last week's game in the win column.
"Some of those games, we have been on the losing end. It's good to see this team has that competitive edge that never quits," Johnson said. "That just shows that we have something special here if we just keep working at it."
Senior defensive end Jake Sprague said many people underestimate how important beating FSU was in building confidence in the locker room.
"Some people think that, just because it wasn't a blow out, or we didn't win by a large margin, that it wouldn't help this team as much as it would if we came in and blew someone out," Sprague said. "But sometimes that can make a team stronger and closer, if you have to fight, scratch and claw down to the last minute. I think that really helped us more than anything that could have happened in that first game."
WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS
The Badgers arrive in Las Vegas this afternoon, where they will check into the Hyatt Lake Las Vegas Resort, then head downtown for a team dinner and bus trip around "The Strip."
But the coaching staff is being very careful to eliminate all distractions on the first road trip for many young players.
"For the little guys, you have to make sure you don't get into the whole awe of flying in and there's Vegas," Johnson said. "We'll have a little more time Saturday to get mentally prepared a little bit, where you can kind of relax on Friday. You don't have to get up at 6 a.m. for an 11 o'clock kickoff."
The Badgers are treating the Vegas trip similar to any other road game, but the older players are taking extra precautions to make sure everyone understands it's a business trip, and the focus has to be on the game.
"It can get kind of tough on the road," Sprague said. "My first college game was at San Diego State. It was a lot different than just being around Madison, practicing around Camp Randall. Going to a different place and having to travel and staying in a different hotel, those are all distractions. Part of the challenge is to eliminate those things and make it feel like it's home."
Leaving for Las Vegas
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