The fun and games of Wednesday's trip to Disneyland behind them, the Badgers got back to work on Thursday by returning to the practice field at The Home Depot Center.
After being relegated to an artificial surface on Wednesday due to wet field conditions, UW drilled for 18 periods on natural grass Thursday to better simulate the turf they'll play on in the Rose Bowl.
Prior to practice, Jared Abbrederis, Montee Ball, Travis Frederick, Curt Phillips and James White accompanied offensive coordinator Matt Canada to the Rose Bowl's media hotel in downtown Los Angeles for a morning press conference.
The biggest news of the day came from Canada, who told reporters that junior QB Joel Stave will be cleared to play for the game. Canada said Stave, who has been recovering from a broken collarbone suffered vs. Michigan State on Oct. 27, will be worked into the game plan in some capacity, while Phillips will be the starting quarterback.
"There's a chance you'll see him out there at times," Canada said of Stave.
That came as news to Stave -- who had yet to be officially cleared for game action -- when reporters questioned him on the development following practice.
"I figured by the way I was practicing without any pain that I'd get cleared sooner or later," he said.
Back to the fun and games, the Badgers' last stop for the day was the Improv in Hollywood to take in a stand-up comedy act. The annual stop has become a favorite of the players over their past two trips to the Rose Bowl,
Wednesday brought the first on-site practice for the Wisconsin football team in Los Angeles, with the Badgers working through 12 periods of drills at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Their Rose Bowl preparations done for the day, the team loaded buses and headed for Anaheim for an afternoon at Disneyland.
Seniors Montee Ball, Shelton Johnson, Curt Phillips, Mike Taylor and Rick Wagner joined interim head coach Barry Alvarez for a special introduction ceremony welcoming both the Badgers and Stanford to the "Happiest Place on Earth." The welcome event included a brief session of media interviews before the players got a VIP tour of the park.
The first stop was The Matterhorn, with Wagner drawing the unfortunate duty of cramming his 6-foot-6 frame into the front car of the Badgers' train. All five made it through the classic ride without incident and then were whisked away to the California Adventure park.
The Badgers had the chance to ride the Radiator Springs Racers ride inside the new Cars Land area of California Adventure and then posed for a group photo before heading out to experience the rides of their choice. At a minimum, Phillips planned to lead the group to the Tower of Terror and Space Mountain before they headed back to the team hotel in Century City.
A number of other players were planning to take advantage of a team meal at the ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney, adjacent to the park.
Wednesday's schedule begins with a news conference for offensive coordinator Matt Canada and selected offensive players at the Rose Bowl's media hotel in downtown L.A. The team then returns to the practice field for an 18-period session, followed by a team trip to the Improv comedy club.
All families have their holiday traditions. For the Wisconsin football family, it's become a Christmas tradition to pack up and head west for Los Angeles.
The Badgers did just that for the third-consecutive year on Tuesday, as they returned to L.A. to continue their preparations for the 99th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.
The team met for a conditioning session in the morning before loading buses bound for the Dane County Regional Airport. After a four-hour flight, the Badgers' Delta charter touched down at LAX just after 3 p.m. local time and the team hopped on some specially-decorated buses to head to the Rose Bowl for a first look at the stadium.
Interim head coach Barry Alvarez said he likes taking the team to the field immediately to give the players a chance soak in the setting and enjoy taking some photos so they arrive for the game on Jan. 1 focused on the task at hand.
After the brief sightseeing excursion, the Badgers settled in at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza and met briefly as a team before enjoying a less-than-traditional take on Christmas dinner -- with pizza, pasta and chicken fingers.
The work truly begins for the Badgers on Wednesday, when they take the practice field at The Home Depot Center for the first of six scheduled practices leading up to game day. Of course, it won't be all work and no play for the team, which heads to Disneyland in the afternoon.
Montee Ball, Rick Wagner, Mike Taylor, Shelton Johnson, Curt Phillips will join Alvarez for a short press conference in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle before getting a chance to ride the new attractions at Cars Land in Disney's California Adventure park. The rest of the team can roam the grounds until they meet for dinner at the ESPNZone to cap their first full day in L.A.
It's no secret that Camp Randall Stadium provides some very friendly confines for the Wisconsin football team. The Badgers are 42-3 at home since Bret Bielema took the helm in 2006.
With that in mind, it will feel good for the Badgers to return home Saturday after suffering a tough loss on the road at Nebraska last week.
Beyond the fact that UW loses so rarely at home -- the Badgers are 21-3 in Big Ten games at Camp Randall under Bielema -- history says that last week's setback won't derail Wisconsin's league title aspirations.
In the previous five seasons in which the Badgers lost their first Big Ten road game, UW went on to post a combined record of 24-7 after suffering that initial road loss.
That includes a 5-1 mark last season and a 7-0 record in 2010 after losing conference road openers at Michigan State.
Wisconsin has won 18 Big Ten games since the start of the 2010 season, tying with the Spartans for the most league wins of any conference team over that span.
In other words, don't write these Badgers off just yet.
Though they have a pair of meets under their belts already, the Badgers' season effectively starts this weekend.
The competition steps up for the women's cross country team Saturday in Earlysville, Va.
Cal, Kentucky and Oklahoma will all be in attendance as No. 15-ranked Virginia hosts the Panorama Farms Invitational.
Through two weeks of the season, it's been smooth sailing for the Badgers, who claimed the Badger Opener on Sept. 9 with their top runners competing and then won the Warhawk Invitational last Saturday behind a number of their developmental runners.
"We've had a good start to the season," UW head coach Jim Stintzi said. "Our lineups looked different the first two weeks, but we've learned a little bit about our athletes each time we've raced."
However, this weekend's meet opens a run of three major meets in four weeks for the Badgers. The team's top athletes return to the road next week for the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic on Sept. 29, a meet that will serve as a preview of the course that plays host to the NCAA championship in November.
After an off week, the Badgers will be set for the fourth-annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 12, which is the highlight of the "regular season" nationally and includes 45 of the top programs from around the country.
"There's no doubt we've got the adidas meet circled," Stintzi said. "It's always big for us to run well on our home course, and it's our last major test before we go to the Big Ten championship. These next few weeks aver very important for us."
After spending two weeks and 16 practices with his team, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has decided who will line up for the Badgers in their Sept. 1 season-opener against Northern Iowa.
Bielema released his preseason depth chart Monday, naming 52 players to his initial two-deep.
Despite some of the suspense being removed Sunday when Bielema took to Twitter to announce that junior Danny O'Brien would be the Badgers' starting quarterback, there were some mysteries solved with the release of the depth chart.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Fredrick and sophomore Kenzel Doe join the veteran of the group, junior Jared Abbrederis, as starters at wide receiver.
Junior Brian Wozniak gets the nod as a No. 1 tight end alongside junior and returning starter Jacob Pedersen.
While LT Rick Wagner, LG Ryan Groy, C Travis Frederick and RT Rob Havenstein were all but set as starters on the offensive line, sophomore Kyle Costigan won the No. 1 job at right guard.
Sophomore Sherard Cadogan and redshirt freshman Derek Watt, a recently-converted linebacker, share the No. 1 line at fullback.
The choices at tailback should come as no surprise, with senior Montee Ball the Badgers' starter and junior James White the backup.
On defense, the Badgers will line up with junior David Gilbert and senior Brendan Kelly at defense end, with both sharing the No. 1 lines with junior Pat Muldoon. In between, juniors Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer occupy the No. 1 spots at defensive tackle.
The Big Ten's top tacklers from last year return, with junior Chris Borland the starter at middle linebacker and senior Mike Taylor on the top line at the will linebacker spot. Junior Ethan Armstrong fills out the group as the No. 1 sam linebacker.
The secondary is an experienced one, with seniors Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith holding down the No. 1 spots at cornerback and senior Shelton Johnson and junior Dez Southward back as the No. 1 safeties.
On special teams, Bielema will tab sophomore Drew Meyer to handle punts, with freshman Jack Russell the No. 1 kicker on field goals and sophomore Kyle French handling kickoffs.
Sophomore James McGuire will snap with freshman Stephen Salata as the holder.
Abbrederis, a preseason All-America returner on many media lists after an impressive season running back kicks last year, is UW's No. 1 returner for both punts and kickoffs.
The crew from SiriuxXM College Sports Nation (that's Ch. 91 for those with subscriptions) made a stop in Madison Friday as part of their College Football Camp Tour.
Host Mark Packer and his crew conducted their three-hour live show from Camp Randall Stadium, interviewing director of athletics Barry Alvarez, head coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator Matt Canada and defensive coordinator Chris Ash.
Six Badgers also spoke with Packer about their thoughts on the upcoming season, what it's like to play in front of a 80,000-plus at Camp Randall and, most notably, how to properly consume a Scrambler from Mickey's Dairy Bar.
Have a listen to some of what the Badgers had to say:
Last week's trip to Chicago for the annual Big Ten Football Media Days meant supplying the media members in attendance with plenty of info on what the Badgers will bring to the table in 2012.
You can peruse the entire notes package, but here are some of the most interesting nuggets on UW heading into the season...
The Basics - The Badgers return just 11 of 22 starters (five on offense, six on defense). However, UW has 19 players on the roster that have started at least one game in their career.
- Wisconsin's 115-player roster breaks down like this: 49 freshmen, 30 sophomores, 27 juniors, 9 seniors. UW's eight scholarship seniors are tied for second-fewest among FBS teams.
- Eight returning Badgers have earned all-conference honors at some point during their careers (six offensive players and two defensive players). This Fall Belongs to Ball - After tying Barry Sanders' FBS record with 39 touchdowns last season, senior RB Montee Ball has 61 for his career and needs 18 TDs to break the NCAA career record for total TDs.
- Ball led the nation with 1,923 rushing yards and 2,229 yards from scrimmage last year, while his 39 touchdowns were more than 42 FBS teams scored in all of 2011. His 33 rushing touchdowns were more than 104 FBS teams tallied last season.
- Ball has started just 18 games in his career but is averaging 142.9 rushing yards and has scored 51 touchdowns in those games.
- Ball has not lost a fumble in his career, spanning 617 touches (568 carries, 49 receptions).
Bowling with the Badgers - The Badgers have made four appearances in the Rose Bowl during the BCS era (since 1998). That is the second-most in the country during that span, trailing only USC's five appearances.
- UW has appeared in a bowl game in 10 straight seasons, tied for the ninth-longest active streak in the country. It is second only to Ohio State's streak of 12-straight bowl games among Big Ten teams.
At the Top - Wisconsin is one of just six teams in the country to win at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons. The others are Alabama, Boise State, Oregon, Virginia Tech and TCU.
- The Badgers own a 32-8 record over the past three seasons, and only five teams boast more wins than UW since the start of the 2009 season: Boise State (38), TCU (36), Alabama (36), Oregon (34) and LSU (33).
-Wisconsin went undefeated at home for the second-straight season and has won 16 consecutive home games, the second-longest active streak in the country. UW's 50-4 record at Camp Randall Stadium since 2004 is third-best in the country and the Badgers' 50 home wins in that span is tied with LSU for most in the nation.
- Wisconsin was the only team in the country to finish among the top 15 in the final NCAA stats in both total offense and total defense in 2011.
- Since the 2002-03 school year, the Badgers have played in a bowl game every year while also qualifying for the NCAA men's basketball tournament. That streak of 10 straight years with both is by far the longest in the country. BYU and Michigan State are tied for second on that list at five consecutive years.
For the first time in program history, the Badgers made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.
Fourth-seeded Wisconsin entered the 2012 NCAA Tournament having tallied the third-most victories in school history and coming one game short of grabbing a share of the Big Ten regular-season crown.
After cruising past Montana, the only thing standing in the way of the Badgers and a return trip to the Round of 16 were the fourth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores, the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament champions.
After holding the SEC's two leading scorers, John Jenkins (20.1) and Jeffrey Taylor (16.3), to below-average performances, the Badgers marched on to Boston and the Sweet 16, where they would tip-off with Syracuse, the East Region's top-seeded team.
Wisconsin defeated Montana, 73-49, in the second round of the NCAA tournament at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M., before holding off Vanderbilt, 60-57, and earning a trip to its second-consecutive Sweet 16.
Despite a valiant effort from the Badgers, including 14-made three-point baskets, UW fell to Syracuse, 64-63, in one of the most thrilling games of the entire 2012 NCAA Tournament.