September 1: Washington State
Hey! A legitimate non-conference game against a BCS Conference! That's a legitimate step for a team yearning for a BCS bowl appearance and respect. In all seriousness, a year after a non-conference joke schedule, Wisconsin opens against a Washington State school that finished 6-6 and 4-5 in the PAC-10. Not the greatest record in the world, but when you compare them to the likes of Bowling Green, Western Illinois, San Diego State and Buffalo, the Cougars look like the Trojans of Southern Cal.
Regardless of the Cougar prowess, this game makes the list because fans will start to find out how good this Wisconsin team truly is. Ranked No.7 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No.5 in the USA Today poll, the Badgers have put themselves in position to have a tremendous year. Bielema always says to go 1-0 for the week. Against the Cougars, the Badgers will have their first opportunity to accomplish that feat and win their ninth-straight season opener.
September 22: Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa
The Big Ten opener, a battle of heated rivals and a chance to start the conference season on the right foot lands the Badgers/Hawkeye battle on the list. This series has been formulated on long winning streaks (the Badgers lost 18 straight, won five straight and then lost four straight over the past 27 games). Last year, Bielema rode the arm and legs of Tyler Donovan to beat his alma mater in his first attempt in this up-and-coming rivalry.
Iowa is down and head coach Kirk Ferentz is going to be on the hot seat. Quarterback Drew Tate is gone along with 19 other letter winners. Senior running back Albert Young will be the offensive catalyst, but teams centered on a running back have not faired well recently against Wisconsin's defense. This game is hardly the highlight on the 2007 schedule, but starting the Big Ten schedule on the right foot at home will get everyone talking.
October 5: Wisconsin women's soccer vs. Penn State
Over the past decade and a half, Big Ten women's soccer has been controlled by Penn State. Now, the tide may be turning in Wisconsin's favor for the simple reason that the Badgers nabbed Penn State's biggest piece this past spring.
After six years at Penn State, Paula Wilkins takes the helm of a Badger school looking for a new direction. The Badger women are coming off a 7-9-3 record and a seventh place finish in conference. Worse yet, the Badgers lose senior captains Kara Kabellis, Natalie Horner and Allison Preiss to graduation.
Wilkins compiled a remarkable 119-19-11 (.836) record, the second-highest winning percentage in the nation among active NCAA coaches, in her six seasons as Penn State's head coach. The Nittany Lions earned six NCAA tournament berths, which included two College Cup appearances during her tenure. In addition, Penn State won the last six Big Ten regular season championships, along with a pair of Big Ten tournament titles. When Wilkins was asked why she left, she commented that she wanted to build her own program – a program with a tradition and one that showed promise.
With Wilkins facing her former employer for the first time, expect Wilkins and the new-look Badgers to make some noise against the conference's powerhouse.
October 19-21: Wisconsin Volleyball vs. Ohio State/Penn State
Wisconsin volleyball was rolling right along in the beginning of last season until the women dropped back-to-back road games at the States. If fans thought the Block Party didn't have revenge on their minds when Ohio and Penn State traveled to the Field House three weeks later, they were sorely mistaken. Wisconsin swept No.2 Penn State and No.24 Ohio State after the embarrassment on the road – games that head coach Pete Waite called ‘landmarks' for the program.
This season, the Badgers have all the pieces to make a run deep into the national tournament. Wisconsin returns most of its core players – including All-American Jackie Simpson - from a year before, Audra Jeffers seems to have recovered nicely from her bad back that plagued her last season and Wisconsin will host an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2000. Coincidentally, the Badgers reached the NCAA Final that season, losing to Nebraska in five games.
With Wisconsin being one of the favorites in the Big Ten, the Badgers will need a big weekend against two of the toughest teams in the conference.
November 3: Wisconsin Football at Ohio State
The toughest game – minus Penn State – on Wisconsin's schedule and a true test to see if the Badgers are for real. The Badgers have faired well against the Buckeyes in recent years, winning their last three meetings in Columbus. The national runner-up a year ago will be missing Troy Smith, Ted Ginn and Antonio Pittman among others but a crop of young talent could push Ohio State back to the national spotlight. If Wisconsin wants to get there, the road goes through Columbus.
November 10: Wisconsin Football vs. Michigan
Same principle as above. If Wisconsin beats Ohio State, Camp Randall will be rocking the following week with the maize and blue coming to town. Best get your tickets now, as this one isn't going to be cheap.
November 9-10: Wisconsin Hockey against North Dakota
Goalie! Sieve! Sioux on a stick! If Wisconsin hockey had to pick a bigger rival other than Minnesota, North Dakota would be on the top of that list. After a disappointing title defense last season, Wisconsin hockey seemingly has picked up the pieces and has developed a young team with experience and plenty of upside.
The Badgers return sophomore forward Michael Davies (24 points), junior forward Ben Street (17 points) and junior goalie Shane Connelly. In addition, Wisconsin brings in a talented freshman class, highlighted by three first round draft picks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft - forward Kyle Turris, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and defenseman Brendan Smith. Wisconsin and North Dakota will highlight the third series of a busy October home stand.
November 27: Wisconsin Basketball at Duke
Badger fans have pleaded, wished, demanded and complained that Bo's Boys never get any respect from the national media when it comes to their opponent in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. After a school record 30 wins, 13 conference wins, 17 weeks in the A.P. Top 10 and the school's first-ever number one ranking, the Badgers will get their chance at the ACC giants in Durham.
This will be the first-ever meeting between UW and Duke. The two programs have been among the most consistent winners in the country in recent years. Among teams that have had the same head coach over the last six years, they rank in the top three in terms of average conference finish. No matter what the end result, it's the must watch game of the year …
December 8 (tentative): Wisconsin Basketball vs. Marquette
… other than the annual in-state hatred that Marquette and Wisconsin produce. Marquette fans hate Wisconsin and Wisconsin fans hate Marquette. It's always a wonderful topic around the dinner table, especially for UW fans over the last nine years.
Wisconsin has won seven of its last nine meetings against the Golden Eagles, including a 70-66 win in Milwaukee last year behind 28 points from Alando Tucker. This year, MU has another year of experience under its belt while UW still has Butch, Flowers and Landry. No matter who's playing, this game always gives people something to talk about.
January 7: College Football National Championship
Hey, can't hurt to plan ahead right?
Were these the 10 you would have picked? Did we miss one? Whatever the case, be sure to check out Badger Nation for complete coverage of all the events Wisconsin related.