Big Ten Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin fans have always had a pretty decent-to-good product on the field over the last decade. Joe Pasquali tackles the Wisconsin Badgers in our Big Ten Preview. Who will take over for P.J. Hill this season? With their QB and all their WRS back, will they change their offense and rely on the pass? This season their team looks a little thin, but will a season of 7-5 be a success?

Finishing T-#6 in the Big Ten
Wisconsin Badgers (Predicted Finish 7-5)

Summary– This is a team that could surprise a lot of people this season. Penn State is off the schedule and they have a pretty favorable set up other than going to Columbus. I still can’t figure out why they are ending the season with a December 5th game in Hawaii. Maybe it will prove to keep the team bowl ready and prevent the huge layoff most Big Ten teams face. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team won 8 or 9 games, but they have too few returning men on the offensive and defensive line. B.B. ball relies heavily on both of those units functioning.

Offense (B-)– PJ Hill was the focal point of this offense last year and he will be missed. However, the new RB John Clay appears to be of the same build (6’2” 247 lbs.) and should be another big back that fits into the Wisconsin game plan. Wisconsin ranked 1st in the Big Ten in Rushing last season but 7th in passing. With Senior Dustin Sherer returning at QB and all of his WR’s, look for that to change. I expect Wisconsin to air it out a bit more this year, especially with only two starters returning to the O-Line.

Defense (B-)– Wisconsin ranked 4th last season in the Big Ten when it came to total defense but are only returning two out of their front seven. In a conference where a lot of teams like to run the football, this could prove bad for the Badgers. The secondary remains mostly intact and junior strong safety Jay Valai is a difference maker.

Special Teams (B)– Philip Welch and Brad Nortman return to do the kicking and punting duties respectively. Welch was 20-24 last year and was very solid, especially for a freshman.

Coaching (B+)– Bret Bielima has done very well in the post Barry Alvarez era and has quietly become one of the best coaches in the conference. With a favorable schedule it’ll be interesting to see what the Badgers do this year.
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