Going on the road to top 25, potential BCS buster Fresno State will tell us a lot about this Badger team.
So goes the conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is wrong. Playing in a small but racuous stadium in California's central valley will tell us how well we stack up against a pass-happy no-defense playing opponent. How many more of those are there on our schedule?
In other words, that game will tell us whether the Badgers can beat Fresno State on the road. Nothing more. Defense provides the biggest concern for Bucky, and the Bulldogs passing game will test our hobbled corners and as-of-yet marginal safeties. But Fresno State is the only team on our schedule that has that kind of a passing attack. The Badgers miss Purdue this year. Michigan is breaking in a new run-oriented spread. Ohio State is a running team. Penn State is breaking in a new quarterback with a traditionally run-oriented offense. Michigan State runs an offense much like Ohio State's. Iowa's QB won't be mistaken for a gunslinger. Juice, at Illinois, certainly won't either. And Indiana runs a run-oriented spread. Sorry to let everyone down, but how our defense performs against Fresno State will tell us very little about the rest of the season. Unless Cal Poly grew a nasty passing game while I wasn't paying attention.
On the other side of the ball? The same. Fresno State's defense is undersized and struggles against the run. You may have heard, we're kind of built to run. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see us run all over the Bulldogs (while they may pass all over us). So what will that tell us about the rest of the season? You guessed it: nothing. If anyone here thinks Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State is going to let us just line up the ball and successfully pound it play after play, they are kidding themselves. The same is true for Michigan State, Iowa, and Illinois. Ok, so Indiana and Minnesota might be suspect, but our season will long be more or less determined by the time those games hit.
So enjoy the Valley. Enjoy seeing the Badgers facing a tough road test early in the season. But don't use it as a guage for the year. You'll be disappointed.