Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien says he’s seen his teammates unbelievably focused this week in preparation for No. 1 Ohio State. He wonders why it can’t always be this way for the 18th-ranked Badgers.
Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) has embraced the hype surrounding the first visit from a top-ranked team to Camp Randall Stadium since 1997, and the program is looking for a signature win for coach Bret Bielema.
“It’s going to be the turning point in the season,’’ running back James White said. “When you take out a No. 1, it catches everybody’s eye. You get national exposure everywhere. It would be a real good experience.’’
The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) believe it’s really just another day as an elite program. Ohio State has won eight of 11 road games in the Big Ten at night under coach Jim Tressel and being No. 1 at midseason isn’t a goal.
“Regardless of where we’re ranked, it happens to be No. 1 right now, if we don’t get better, we’ll be lower than that,’’ the coach said.
Bielema doesn’t have a defining win in the five years since he became the hand-picked successor to Barry Alvarez, now the athletics director. He’s acknowledged just how much he wants to beat the Buckeyes before, but he’s also never had a team as talented as this group.
Still, Ohio State appears faster and more athletic.
“They got my vote,’’ Bielema said of whom he put No. 1 on his coaches’ poll ballot.
Fifth-ranked Nebraska (5-0) believes it has what it takes to win the national title in its last year in the Big 12. But it won’t happen unless the Cornhuskers can figure out a way to beat visiting Texas (3-2), which has won eight of nine meetings since the Big 12 started in 1996, including last season’s controversial 13-12 victory in the conference title game. That Nebraska team didn’t have Taylor Martinez, a redshirt freshman quarterback who is averaging 147.4 yards rushing to rank fourth nationally, with an incredible 10.8 yards per carry. “He’s a guy who scares you to death,’’ said Texas coach Mack Brown. “Every time he touches the ball he has a chance to score.’’ . . . It could be a big day for DeMarco Murray, the workhorse running back for No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0). Murray, averaging 26 carries per game to lead the Bowl Subdivision, needs just two touchdowns to tie the school record of 57 set by Steve Owens, and he’ll be facing an Iowa State run defense that has allowed more than 200 yards rushing per game. The Cyclones (3-3) have given up a Big 12-worst 11 rushing TDs . . . Is there trouble ahead for No. 7 Auburn (6-0)? The Tigers’ secondary had all sorts of problems with Kentucky’s air attack last weekend, and now No. 12 Arkansas brings its potent passing game to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Led by quarterback Ryan Mallett, the Razorbacks (4-1) are averaging an SEC-best 354 yards through the air.