Arizona State, which invades Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon, represents Wisconsin's first nonconference opponent from a BCS conference since Washington State came to town to open the 2007 season. Since then, the likes of Citadel, Cal Poly and Wofford have shown up on the Badgers' slate of opponents. A lot of fans don't even know where those schools are located.
Though they struggled to a 4-8 finish last year, the Sun Devils are often contenders in the Pac 10, last winning a share of the conference title in 2007. Unlike Austin Peay, which comes to town next week, Arizona State is a known quantity. Some fans might even know that Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris played there and that the team's mascot, Sparky, looks like Max from Where the Wild Things Are with a devilish mustache.
Happily, the Badgers' schedule in coming seasons features teams like Oregon State (2011 and '12), Virginia Tech ('16 and '17) and Washington ('17 and '18). None of those schools will be confused with powerhouses like Alabama or Texas, but they're recognizable brands that alums can safely brag about beating - unlike San Jose State, last week's victim from the Western Athletic Conference.
But as much as fans might want to see a team like USC play at Camp Randall, it doesn't make sense for the Badgers to get beat up by top-ranked teams in September before facing Ohio State and Iowa in October conference games. As long as Wisconsin is expected to compete for a BCS bowl game every year, the nonconference schedule can't be too challenging.