Wisconsin just became the Big Ten favorite because of the biggest free-agent acquisition, maybe, in history. In the history of college football, that is. Sorry, Jeremiah Masoli.
When quarterback Russell Wilson picked Wisconsin on Monday, the Badgers took control of the new, expanded Big Ten because, well, to this point no one else has.
--Ohio State, you might have heard, is dealing with a few problems.
--No one is really sure about the Nebraska offense.
--I want to believe in Michigan State but until the Spartans do it -- go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988 -- they are suspect.
With the addition of Wilson, Wisconsin is now, officially, loaded. He gives the Badgers something that they have lacked for years -- a playmaker at quarterback. I know, I know, Scott Tolzien wasn't bad, but he's also gone.
Without him, Bret Bielema faced a familiar problem -- game-planning around the quarterback. Now he goes into games calling plays because of the quarterback.
Let's not stop there. With Wilson, the Badgers could compete for the national championship if everything falls right. Sure, the Badgers lost an Outland Trophy winner in the offensive line (Gabe Carimi) and J.J. Watt in the defensive line, but if there are two things Madison is good at they are beer and linemen.
The schedule is more than manageable. The Nebraska game is at home.
Am I gushing? I can't help it. One of my lasting visions from the 2010 season was Wisconsin pounding TCU's defense in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl. Now, add an accurate arm and fast feet to that scene. Give the Frogs credit for bouncing back, but this is going to be a different Badgers' offense with Wilson. I also remember last year at this time when Wilson went 250 days without football-related activity before the 2010 season. It didn't seem to hurt the Pack who won nine games for the first time since 2002.
Wisconsin gets a smart, polished quarterback who once threw 379 attempts without an interception. Perhaps most impressive: Wilson's 3,563 passing yards and 28 touchdowns not only led the ACC, it would have led the Big Ten.
If the kid truly wants to concentrate on football now -- which seems to be the case -- then he's at the right place with Wisconsin's pro-styleish offense. If nothing else happens, Wisconsin will have the deadliest play-action passing game in the country.
This is not Masoli II. Wilson will make a massive impact because he will be asked to do less in Wisconsin's offense. He is not a Cam Newton-like runner (who is?) but Wilson has enough mobility to make defenses account for him. Auburn never would have worked for Wilson because he plays too much like Newton.
No matter what he'd done, it would have been compared to a Heisman Trophy winner. Plus, the best he could have done is tie last year's accomplishments -- an undefeated national title season. That wasn't going to happen with or without Wilson.
I had to chuckle at Bielema's official statement. Wilson will "compete" for the starting quarterback position. You don't transfer -- and Wisconsin doesn't accept you -- if a quarterback controversy is about to break out.
The only thing that stops Wilson from becoming the Badgers' quarterback is a late hit from one of his teammates. So far, he's been pretty good at dodging those in live action. I like his chances of staying healthy and leading the Big Ten (ahem, 12) to its second straight Rose Bowl. At least.