Though I don't think they are quite useless, I'm not a huge proponent of preseason rankings. Last year the Badgers started the year overrated. This year the national media seems a bit more reserved about the Cardinal and White, but frankly, not by much.
AP has us at #13, USA Today/Coaches have us at #12, Steele has us at #13, Athlon at #12, CFN at #10, ESPN at #12, Sports Illustrated/Stewart Mandel at #12. That's pretty consistent, if nothing else. Only Ohio State is ranked above us in the Big Ten, with Penn State and Illinois generally next (not necessarily in that order).
The rankings are really more about national title shots than anything else, with BCS bowl implications being a distant second. While it's nice to have a high preseason ranking (as we do), playing it out on the field is what will determine our success, including our bowl picture. The BigTen Network has a decent discussion of our schedule:
The keys on the BCS side of things are Fresno State, and the gauntlet of Big Ten teams we start the conference schedule with. If we can go 2-1 to start conference play, we have a legit shot at sharing a Big Ten title, if not better. On the other hand, 1-2 or worse could mean another second rate bowl. Time to get playing . . .
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