Wisconsin beat up on Indiana to the score of 83-20 last Saturday, and as a result drew criticism from across the country. Despite writing for a Minnesota-biased website, for which anti-Wisconsin spin is expected, I'm going to defend the Badger coaching staff.
First of all, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema didn't leave his starters in the game once it was lopsided. His comments are noted in an Adam Rittenberg post on ESPN's Big Ten Blog:
"It was accusations that came from people probably that didn't see the game. If you watched it, you'd see the way it unfolded. ... In the second half, especially, we had our fourth-string center snapping to our fifth-team quarterback, and so on and so forth. And we were still able to have productive yards."
Second, Wisconsin is in fact amidst a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten with Ohio State and Michigan State. BCS rankings will decide the team that goes to Pasadena in the event of a tie. Impressive victories may influence the voting process that determines this process. Barry Alvarez claims that Wisconsin may in fact have an edge in the BCS rankings if there is a three-way tie at seasons' end.
Third, the hypocrisy. Wisconsin defeated Indiana by a margin of 63 points. Oregon defeated Portland State this year by a score of 69-0, and they beat New Mexico State 72-0. Yet, they are the darlings of college football. Boise State and TCU have blown out several lesser opponents, and claim their lopsided margins of victory are a necessary evil because they are disadvantaged members of the BCS process. Is the Big Ten held to different standards than other conferences? That shouldn't be the case.
83-20 is a ridiculous score. Few will argue that point. There may have been a few plays that were more aggressive than some would like to have seen, but they were by backup players. If you're going to point a finger a Wisconsin, don't forget to point it at Oregon, TCU, and Boise State too.