ORLANDO — Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema doesn't buy into an increasingly held belief that the Big Ten lacks the speedy athletes to compete with teams from the Southeast.
Teams such as his opponent today in the Champs Sports Bowl, the Florida State Seminoles.
"It's the same people who told us that when we beat Auburn here, the same people who told us two years ago when we beat Arkansas," Bielema said on Friday, referring to the Badgers' appearances in the Capital One Bowl in 2006 and 2007.
The problem has been the attention heaped upon Ohio State's poor showings in losses to Florida and LSU in BCS title games.
"But the part that jumps out to me last year, I saw Michigan pretty much handle Florida (in the Capital One Bowl); we had beat Michigan earlier," he said. "I watched Florida on film and saw the speed and the athletes they had, and then I saw Michigan go out and do what they did. So you've got to build your arguments with all the facts, not just the one you want."
FSU receivers likely out: FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Friday that he doesn't expect WRs Preston Parker (ankle) and Taiwan Easterling (pulled muscle) to play today. Both were injured in the regular-season finale against Florida.
"They could play; they ain't practiced, so you just don't know," he said.
Parker, despite missing the first two games while serving a suspension for an offseason arrest, leads FSU in receptions with 40 for 372 yards (second) and two touchdowns. Easterling is third in catches and yards, 29 for 317, and has been particularly proficient on third downs.
Ticket update: Florida Citrus Sports executive director Steve Hogan is happy with ticket sales for today's game. He expects more than 50,000 will be sold.
"We're already well into a record attendance," Hogan said, referring to the high watermark of 46,554 announced for last year's Boston College-Michigan State matchup. "We're into the upper decks pretty strong."
FSU sold its 12,000-ticket allotment. Wisconsin returned some of its tickets.
He said it: "I want to thank both of you for coming. We've got a lot of empty chairs here." Bowden, joking about the sparse turnout for Friday's news conference. There were a few more than two reporters, but you get the point.