Some teams are just easy to hate. Rank Wisconsin near the top of my list. Bucky, how (and why) do I despise thee? Let me count the ways:
1) Rude, ugly fans, who do more than just seek to intimidate the opposing team (I won't get specific because this is a family-friendly site)
2) UW alumni who possess a smug attitude that they are just a little more sophisticated and intellectual than the rest of us Big Ten hayseeds. After all, Madison is the "Berkley of the Midwest!"
3) The fact that this year's squad was celebrated by Badger fans and media alike as being the Big Ten's best of the 21st century. This really enraged me considering that a few wins over weak opponents at home somehow added up to greatness in everyone's minds. And I wonder, have all the talking heads forgotten the 2002 and 2005 Buckeye squads?
4) Head coach Bret Bielema is just smarmy. Tell me I'm wrong!
5) Wisconsin fans have cried about the Robert Reynolds strangling for years, while overlooking obvious Badger thuggery. Yes, I'm talking about you Jay Valai!
6) Last year's Badger team ruined what could have been a very special season for Ohio State...although it would have been stricken from the books anyway! (Still, I'm bitter about that game)
7) Wisconsin got lucky, because this year's squad had a huge void at quarterback before Russell Wilson plopped into their lap.
I could go on, but I won't. Seven bullet points is enough to make me feel better. So with my catharsis complete, let me tell you what I think about this year's Wisconsin team and the Buckeye hopes of victory Saturday night.
First, in spite of my dislike of the Badgers I do respect them. Barry Alvarez was a heck of a coach, and I always admired the physicality of his teams. Without doubt they will be heavy favorites on Saturday night, as they should be. Wisconsin is physical, and talented. I won't break down the game or make any predictions just yet - that will come later in the week. But I do think the Buckeyes have a chance at winning, and might match up better with Wisconsin than many think.
The big question is whether or not the dramatic Michigan State victory over the highly ranked Badgers on Saturday night helps Ohio State's chances or hurts them. There are two schools of thought on this matter. On the one hand, Wisconsin could come in really angry and focused. If they were guilty of reading their own press clippings, the MSU loss surely brought them back down to earth. However, on the other hand, the Badgers might have lost some of their confidence and momentum, causing a young Buckeye team to believe UW can be beat. Personally, I was thrilled to see the Spartans win, not only because it provided slim hopes of still grabbing part of the division crown, but because I like Mark Dantonio and was pumped to see him get the best of Bielema. In addition, I feel like Wisconsin's loss had to provide OSU with confidence that they can defeat the Badgers.
So I say bring on Wisconsin. This is going to be a good, old-fashioned smash-mouth game. And though Buckeye fans may not be quite as drunk or rude as those in Madison, don't expect a warm welcome for Bucky and company in Columbus Saturday night!