MADISON, Wis. (AP) -Travis Beckum is not afraid to say he thinks No. 5 Wisconsin is being disrespected.
``We would win and we would go down in the polls,'' Beckum said. ``The reason is because they weren't convincing wins. I don't really get that. You can't blow every team out.''
Beckum has plenty to be terse about this week, too.
The Badgers (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) are underdogs in their first conference trip this season to unranked Illinois (4-1, 2-0).
``You see, that's what I mean,'' Beckum said, his tone quickening. ``I find that disrespectful. I mean, a team that's 4-1 over a team that's fifth in the country?
``That's just stuff that's out there on pen and paper. No disrespect to them at all, they're a great football team. But the thing is we're a great football team, too.''
Beckum isn't done yet, and it's clear he's listened to a bunch of negative opinions about Wisconsin and the Big Ten.
``There are very good football teams in the Big Ten. They may not be ranked like they are in the SEC, but you never know in the Big Ten,'' Beckum said. ``For example, Illinois, a team that in the past wasn't a very successful team, they're definitely tough.''
Beckum has been a big reason why the Badgers shouldn't be dismissed so easily.
A highly touted recruit from the state of Wisconsin in 2004, Beckum switched from linebacker to tight end last season and established himself as a pass-catching threat, making 61 receptions for 903 yards, both school records.
``Travis is obviously very talented. He's a tough matchup on a safety or a linebacker. He's got good ball skills and good speed,'' said offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. ``His whole thing is the more he can do, the more you can use him. We try to keep him growing.''
Beckum started slow this season before making 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown against Michigan State. He now has touchdown catches in each of the last three games.
``Where we put Travis is kind of dependent upon what we see available for us on film,'' said coach Bret Bielema. ``I think Paul Chryst has a tremendous understanding of what our players' strengths are.''
Beckum has also taken an expanded role in the offense since wide receiver Paul Hubbard went down with a knee injury. Beckum said the Badgers' offense, averaging 412 yards a game, is evolving.
``We've left so much on the field offensively and defensively, but it seems we can go back and change,'' Beckum said. ``We can put up 30 points a game, but we go back and change those things and put up 45, 50 points a game.''
About the only thing the bold Beckum isn't confident about is what position he plays.
Beckum wears No. 9, a number not typical for a tight end, and he hesitates when discussing his role.
``I do a lot of things that regular tight ends don't,'' Beckum said. ``I run a reverse, I don't really see a tight end run a reverse. I'll be lined up at slot, things like that. I'm kind of pretty much everywhere.''
And he won't back down on his opinion that the Badgers aren't being taken seriously.
``We're the most underlooked team,'' Beckum said. ``I think we're a lot better than people say we are. I honestly think that our team is the only team that can stop us.''
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