I went into the Badgers game not knowing much about what kind of team UW was going to have this year. The questions have been answered despite a gut wrenching loss that the refs just plain screwed up (more on that later). This is a very good football team, and the defense is as good as advertised. That may seem silly after they gave up 32 points and 468 yards of offense, but ASU is a very good offense. ASU was playing at home, and due to circumstances (Punt return for TD, 3 and outs) the defense had to be on the field for over 50 plays in the first half. Here's what I liked about the defense: ASU completed just 57% of their passes (29-51); ASU averaged just 2.8 yards per rush (42 rushes for 116 yards); UW won the turnover battle 2-1 and had 2 4th down stops. This defense should keep getting better, and I think they are good enough to allow UW to compete for the Big Ten Championship.
So losing like this really sucks, but this game is non-conference so it likely has no impact on UW's chances to make it to the Big Ten Championship game (there are tiebreakers in the case of a 3 way tie in which this game could have an impact, but what Leaders division team will possibly tie UW and OSU). Where I see a possible issue is on the money side for the Big Ten. Let's say UW has a great season going 6-2 in the Big Ten and 9-3 overall, but falls short of going to the Big Ten Championship game to OSU. OSU wins the Championship game and goes to the Rose Bowl. A 9-3 UW is probably heading to the Outback bowl or Capital One Bowl depending who the losing team was in the Championship game and which bowl wants what team. If UW had that extra quality road win at ASU and was 10-2 they would be a likely candidate for an at-large BCS game birth. While that wouldn't make much difference for fans, (UW would get a great SEC opponent in either the Outback or Capital One Bowl anyway) it makes a huge difference in payout for the Big Ten. A 2nd BCS game would bring over 10 million dollars of revenue to the conference. All speculation at this point, but that's what blogging is for.
I'll resume making picks with the Purdue game, and I've now become bullish on UW chances this year of having a great season.