UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Rivals buzz about Badgers at Media Days

110731_FB_Toon_Nick.jpgCHICAGO -- Sporting a Big Ten championship ring, Ohio State senior center Mike Brewster acknowledged the Buckeyes' growing rivalry with Wisconsin, a co-titlist with Michigan State.

(Despite the presence of the ring on Brewster's hand, OSU vacated its share of the title.)

"Coach (Bret) Bielema has done a really nice job and really brought that program along to where they're a national powerhouse,'' said Brewster, a three-year starter and All-American.

"They're always a challenge to play. Every year I've been here, they've played us tough. You know that you have to be ready when you play Wisconsin, especially at their place.

"Camp Randall is one of my favorite places to play. Wisconsin reminds me a lot of Ohio State with its great fan base; the people are crazy on game days.

"I'm really looking forward to them coming to our place for a night game this year.''

The Badgers, who beat No. 1 Ohio State in Madison last October, will play in Columbus on Oct. 29; the second of consecutive Saturday night road games. The other is at Michigan State on Oct 22.

Adding to the payback or rivalry aspect of the matchup is the knowledge that Wisconsin's Peter Konz and Brewster are considered to be among the top offensive centers in college football.

"They had a great O-line last year,'' Brewster said of the Badgers. "I definitely admired what they did. I felt like their O-line carried their team. That's what it appeared like when we played them.

"I'd like to do the same thing (with the OSU offensive line). I think we have the talent to do it; we have seven guys who can start which is kind of unique.''

With so much inexperience at the quarterback position, Brewster implied that the Buckeyes might be more inclined to take advantage of their depth up front and talent at running back.

"I know Wisconsin runs a lot out of a Power scheme,'' he said. "We haven't been as big on Power lately. We have in the past and we might be this year.''

When quizzed about the four candidates trying to replace Terrelle Pryor -- who's attempting to get into the NFL supplement draft -- Brewster said, "None of them are a problem in the locker room.''

You can read between the lines if you want on that comment.

What corrective steps have the Buckeyes taken in light of their compliance problems with players exchanging or selling their rings and other items for cash and tats?

"I think it's necessary that they still keep educating us; maybe a little more thoroughly as they have done this summer,'' Brewster said.

"Instead of just doing it at the beginning of training camp -- kind of throwing it all out there -- they've kind of been doing it step-by-step, hitting the most important points.

"I think that's good, especially for the young guys. I think everyone is going to be a lot more aware now and a lot more conscious of what they're doing.

"If it's something you're not sure about, you probably shouldn't do it.''

* * *

Michigan State tailback Edwin Baker was also wearing his Big Ten championship ring. The Spartans have been rallying around the acronym "P4RB'' -- Preparation for Rose Bowl.
"It's about keeping the focus on the process,'' MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "You have to do the preparation before the Rose Bowl can happen.''

Baker said that he was proud of his championship ring but that he would be taking it off when he went back home because he wants to focus "on winning another one this year.''

Despite beating the Badgers in the 2010 Big Ten opener, the Spartans wound up playing in the Capital One Bowl because Wisconsin had a higher ranking in the BCS standings.

"There was a lot of controversy on who really won the Big Ten championship,'' Baker said. "Should there have been a three-way tie? Things like that.

"Just knowing that this upcoming season there's going to be no doubt about a Big Ten champion is good because it's all going to be based on best record and wins in the division.

"Personally, I was hurt last year because I felt we deserved to go to the Rose Bowl. A lot of people felt that way. A lot of people thought they (the Badgers) should be there.

"There are two sides to every story, but I was still hurt.''

Last season, Baker was the fourth-leading rusher (92.4) in the conference; just ahead of the UW's trio of John Clay (fifth, 92.0), James White (seventh, 87.7) and Montee Ball (eight, 83.0).

"We play a competitive sport so you're going to look at all the other running backs to see what they're doing every week,'' Baker said. "Personally, I try not to get caught up in the yards that I have.''

But he couldn't help but notice the productivity of Wisconsin's rushing attack.

"I'm not really good with names, but I like the way No. 20 runs for them,'' Baker said about White, who ran for 98 yards and two scores against MSU. "He runs very hard and he's kind of quick.''

What kind of reception will the Badgers get under the lights in East Lansing this year?

"The emotion and the energy will be unbelievable,'' Baker said. "Spartan Stadium at night is very special because it's just a crazy atmosphere. It just makes you want to play harder.''

* * *

While the UW's rivalries with Ohio State and Michigan State are just starting to heat up, the long-standing rivalry with Iowa will be put on hold for a couple of seasons until they play again in 2013.

"That was tough to swallow,'' said Hawkeyes defensive tackle Mike Daniels. "You look forward to every game, but to play a team like Wisconsin -- that's so similar to us -- is always fun.

"Coach (Barry) Alvarez was at Iowa; same with Coach Bielema. We do similar things, including a similar type of recruiting.

"Year-in and year-out, they have traditionally great offensive linemen. Not only are they great, but they are huge. And that's where the game is won -- up front.''

As far as divisional play, Daniels added, "There are people who are a lot smarter than me who must know what the league needs. That's why they made the changes.''

Daniels likes the concept of a league title game, though. "To have the opportunity to play another game of football is always exciting,'' he said.

The interaction of players from different teams was a highlight of the Big Ten Media Days.

"Man, it felt like we were talking to our own teammates,'' Daniels said of Aaron Henry, Patrick Butrym and Nick Toon, who represented the Badgers in Chicago.

"They're awesome guys and I'm glad that I got the chance to meet them. It's a shame that we have to be on opposite sides (teams). It was like we knew each other for awhile.

"Maybe it's because our programs are so similar but they were a very cool group of guys.''