This is all so strange for this old Badger, who remembers the days when a .500 record would have been progress.

A fifth consecutive double-digit-win season looks like a reachable goal. So does a sixth trip to the 8-year-old Big Ten championship game.

And yet, just like last year, Wisconsin runs the risk of being ridiculed and dismissed from College Football Playoff talk because of another uninspiring non-conference schedule.

The key non-Big-Ten opponent again is—yawn—BYU. Which reminds me of the old box-office joke.

“Exactly where is BYE located?” a caller asked the ticket office. “And do you have good seats available.?”

There is the matter of the Big Ten road schedule, though. Everyone knows the early trip to Iowa, which has a habit of blowing up the seasons of seriously good teams, will be a tester. The games at Michigan and Penn State clearly will require big-time efforts. And Northwestern and Purdue are capable of making life difficult for teams that don’t deliver their best shot.

In other words, Wisconsin may know some disappointment if it doesn’t pack its best effort.

What I like about the Badgers, though, is that Paul Chryst, 34-7 in his first three years at his alma mater, is quietly establishing himself as one of the best in the college-football business. And Jim Leonhard got off to a great start in his debut at defensive coordinator. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.