The newest BlogPoll Roundtable comes from The Blue-Gray Sky, a blog dedicated to Notre Dame football. I'll leave the jokes for when it's actually football season and Notre Dame is trying really hard to not suck again this year.
1. Who are your rival(s)? For a Wisconsin fan, this question is pretty easy. The Badgers have the Paul Bunyan Axe, the trophy they sometimes share with the Minnesota Gophers. The last couple times that the Badgers have played in The Biggest Piece of Crap in College Football, the Gophers have stolen the Axe, but Bucky has won it back the following year in Madison, as the Gophers go into shock from having to play in a real college football stadium. The Golden Rodentia and Bucky probably have a more intense rivalry in men's hockey these days, but the football rivalry got a permanent dose of heat when Darrell Bevell forgot what color his team wore, and proceeded to throw five interceptions in a 28-21 loss to the Rodents at The Biggest Piece of Crap in College Football back in 1993. The loss ruined any shot Bucky had at the national title, and they had to settle for a Rose Bowl win over UCLA as J.J. Stokes couldn't hold on to the ball, and Wayne Cook forgot that his team was out of timeouts when he slid in the open field on a late scramble.
The other primary rival would be Michigan. Michigan is fun, because it's that team that you know your team can't beat, but you can't wait to play them, either. Michigan is the flagship football program in the Big Ten, and it sucks when they're not on the schedule. Ohio State is okay, too, especially considering that Bucky has won three straight in Columbus, including two straight trips where they came back from double-digit deficits to win.
2. Size up your chances in your rival games this year. This is pretty straightforward. The Badgers have to play the Gophers at The Biggest Piece of Crap in College Football on October 15. The silver lining is that the Gophers will be coming off their annual loss to Michigan, which has led to quite the hangover the last couple years. Another silver lining is that the Gophers defense really sucks, so the Badgers' 1975 offense should have some success. However, Bucky is 0-2 in their last two visits to The Biggest Piece of Crap in College Football, so I'm not optimistic.
I'm not optimistic that Wisconsin can beat Michigan at home, but upsets do happen, especially when Michigan is playing their first road game (they've lost their last five of these). Hopefully, if it happens, the fans will refrain from trying to kill one another after the game. The Badgers don't play tOSU this year.
3. If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be? I'd love to see Wisconsin get their cracks at Notre Dame. I know the Irish already play half the conference, but it would be cool to see Barry Alvarez get his shot at them, too. Then again, what fan in the country doesn't want to see their team kick the crap out of Notre Dame?
I'd also love to see Wisconsin get involved with any of the three I-A service academies. I'm not sure I have a preference, but obviously Air Force is the most successful of the three academy programs in recent years. There's something special about playing a game in Colorado Springs, Annapolis, or West Point.
4. Overall, what do you think the best rivalry in college football is? Back to the service academies I go. I love Michigan-tOSU, Alabama-Auburn, Harvard-Yale, Oregon-Oregon State, Michigan-Notre Dame, Florida-Florida State, Oklahoma-Texas, Texas-Texas A&M, and others. But nothing touches the tradition of Army-Navy. If Michigan and tOSU ever suck in the same season, you'd have four people watching their game on ABC. Same goes for Alabama-Auburn, Florida-FSU, etc. But Army-Navy was still cool, even when the teams had two wins between them, and even when Army was trying like hell to avoid an 0-13 season. Not many rivalries have that kind of drawing power. Nothing beats the large groups of uniformed cadets and midshipmen that are in the stands, cheering their heads off. Nothing beats the two teams gathering at midfield after the game to sing the alma mater of the winner. I'd pay $100 to see tOSU players singing "Hail" after they got it handed to them by Michigan.
5. Lastly, game trophies. What are the best and worst rivalry trophies out there? I'll start with the cool trophies. I'm biased, but Paul Bunyan's Axe has to be right up there. It's a freaking cool trophy, and the visual that comes from the winning team parading around the stadium with it never fails. Well, it usually doesn't fail. In 2003, Rhys Lloyd of Minnesota hit a field goal on the last play of the game to beat Bucky, and he was the first one to grab the trophy off Wisconsin's sideline. Under no circumstances should a kicker ever be allowed to touch a major trophy before any of his teammates do.
Any version of a Victory Bell is cool. The boot that Arkansas and LSU play for is rather new, but looks cool. I believe it's Carleton College and St. Olaf out of the nearby MIAC in Division III that play for a freaking goat of some sort. Cincinnati and Louisville play for the Keg of Nails. Missouri and Iowa State hook up and play for a telephone. Can you imagine busting your tail for 60 minutes for the right to carry a telephone around the stadium? SMU and TCU play for something called "The Iron Skillet". That could make for some entertainment if Vince McMahon wrote for the rivalry. You could have the team that's defending the skillet lose, and then when the winning team's captain goes to retrieve it, someone from the losing team could hit him in the head with it. Alas, they don't allow Vince McMahon to write such things. Sports could be so much more entertaining...