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The battle for the Heartland Trophy will have added intrigue thanks to oddsmakers in Las Vegas.

Vegas gives Wisconsin football opponents some motivation, important summer camps starting and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

Today is Wednesday, May 31, and this is what’s for breakfast.

Feeling the love

Las Vegas loves the Wisconsin football team. If that wasn’t made obvious by oddsmakers setting the Badgers over/under win total for 2017 at 9.5 games, then it certainly was on Tuesday when point spreads for some of the biggest games of the season were released. In games against three of the biggest challengers to its push for back-to-back Big Ten West titles, coach Paul Chryst’s crew is heavily favored in all of them.

According to the South Point sportsbook, the Badgers are 8-point favorites in their Oct. 7 game at Nebraska, 17-point favorites at home against Iowa on Nov. 11 and 10-point favorites at Minnesota on Nov. 25. All three were surprising numbers, though it’s really the first two that stand out. Being favored at Nebraska is one thing, but to be more than a touchdown favorite on the road? That seems a bit high. And the spread against Iowa would be the biggest for either school since 1999 when the Badgers were 32-point favorites. Is there really that much separation between the two rivals?

It took overtime, but Wisconsin beat Nebraska a year ago in Madison. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Obviously, oddsmakers set spreads in an effort to get the most action, so they aren’t necessarily saying Wisconsin is 17 points better than the Hawkeyes. Still, the number is too high to ignore, and you can be sure Iowa won’t. Football coaches will grab onto anything to motivate their team, and it would be far from surprising if those odds were spread all over the Iowa weight room this summer, and the same goes for Nebraska. It’s just the way things happen.

It’s also what makes this a less-than-ideal situation for Chryst & Co. Throughout this golden age of Wisconsin football (beginning in 1993), the Badgers have seemingly always played better when it was them doing the chasing and not the ones being chased. That was never more apparent than in 2016, as a brutal schedule had some wondering if a .500 record might be considered a successful season. All the Badgers did was take out No. 5 LSU, come within a touchdown of upsetting top-10 teams in Ohio State and Michigan, and then run the table down the stretch of the regular season to claim a division title.

Cliché as it may be, the Badgers are at their best when people doubt them. They are card-carrying members of the we-don’t-get-enough-respect club and have always played that way. That won’t be case this year. Now they will have a target on their backs against the likes of the Cornhuskers and Hawkeyes, both of whom would love to knock Wisconsin down a peg or two. All of which makes that division-title repeat just a little bit tougher.

Summer camps

Wisconsin will hold its first summer camp for high school-aged players on Friday at Camp Randall Stadium. It’s billed as a first-class learning experience, one that involves Wisconsin’s coaching staff, coaches from other schools, and current and former players. And while camp attendees will most certainly benefit from the instruction, the camps also provide an opportunity for coaches to evaluate talent that either they wanted to see in person before offering a scholarship or kids they were previously unaware of.

That’s how it happened for current senior Jazz Peavy. The wide receiver attended a camp during the summer of 2012 and impressed the coaching staff enough to elicit an offer.

He’s not alone. Former Badgers LB Chris Borland was offered a scholarship after camping at Wisconsin in the summer of 2008, while current C Tyler Biadasz earned a scholarship offer during a camp in June of 2015.

It’s also at these camps where the Badgers have an opportunity to judge potential walk-ons, a process that has proven to be very beneficial to Wisconsin through the years with players such as Joe Schobert, Alex Erickson, Jared Abbrederis and more.

These next few weeks aren’t the most vital period of recruiting, but this can be an extremely rewarding time for the program, as the past has shown.

Not a good look

Wisconsin is not a difficult word to spell. Just write it as it sounds, and you’ll be fine. But apparently it doesn’t come that easy to everyone, as evidenced by a map released by Google on Tuesday identifying the most misspelled words in each state. While Minnesota struggles with beautiful and Illinois can’t figure out appreciate, nothing compares to Wisconsin’s inability to spell … Wisconsin.

As you can imagine, the taunting on Twitter for Wisconsinites was at fever pitch much of the afternoon. So much so, that former Badgers star Frank Kaminsky felt compelled to make everyone aware that he’s actually from Illinois.

Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt couldn’t use that excuse seeing as he’s from Pewaukee, Wis., but he did try to draw attention away from the embarrassment.

Sorry, J.J., I don’t think that’s going to work. People in Wisconsin not being able to spell Wisconsin is something that deserves ridicule, and you can expect that ridicule to continue for quite some time.

Catching up

  • Former Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt threw out the first pitch in his new home city of Pittsburgh prior to the Pirates game against Arizona on Tuesday.
  • From Wisconsin hockey gets a commitment from a 15-year-old from Milwaukee.
  • A pair of former Badgers were named to ESPN’s World Fame 100 list on Tuesday.