MADISON, Wis. -- Greetings from America's Dairyland, where the Leaders Division championship is on the line today as No. 19 Penn State visits No. 16 Wisconsin. I'm still savoring the reuben rolls I devoured at the Capital Tap Haus last night. Yum.
Weather could be a factor as showers are in the forecast. It rained for much of the morning and early afternoon.
It will be interesting to see what the home crowd is like during the holiday weekend. State Street seemed much quieter than usual Friday night. One student I met said the student section would have a good turnout despite many of his classmates heading home for Thanksgiving. We'll see.
The pressure is definitely on Wisconsin, considering it's the Big Ten preseason favorite and an 18.5-point favorite in today's game. The Badgers received a second chance after their back-to-back heartbreaking road losses, and they've been brilliant at home, winning 15 straight games and averaging 52.3 points per contest this year at Camp Randall. A loss today would be a major disappointment for Bret Bielema and a program on the rise.
Penn State can spoil the party, and Lions players staying in my hotel last night seemed focused but not too uptight. The players know they'll have to play by far their best game of the season to win, but they've embraced the fact most folks are counting them out. Penn State's defense will be among the best Wisconsin has faced this season -- certainly the best defense the Badgers have faced at Camp Randall. But I don't think any team can hold down the Badgers for four quarters, so Penn State will need to generate points with its offense and special teams. The Lions added an effective new wrinkle last week with the Wild-Lion, run by Curtis Drake and Bill Belton. They must continue to evolve and take some chances on offense against a Badgers defense that isn't dominant but boasts solid players in the back seven.
As expected, Wisconsin center Peter Konz (dislocated ankle) is out for the second consecutive game. Travis Fredrick will start in his place, so it will be interesting to see how Penn State defensive tackles Devon Still and Jordan Hill perform.
Much more to come from Camp Randall, so don't go anywhere.