College Football Preseason Top 25: #13 Wisconsin
Why They’re Here: The Badgers return 10 starters on offense from a team that finished last year with 10 wins. It looks like the Badgers are back to hard-nosed, grind-it-out football, with a renewed commitment to running the ball. They’ve also got QB Scott Tolzien returning as the guy who gets the ball from the center and hands it off, which is a definite plus. Tolzien may not be a big stud with first-round potential, but he’s a senior and he’s had experience in the offense, which is always a good thing.
The Good: Wisconsin should have the best one-two punch of running backs in the Big (12?) Ten. All-conference hoss RB John Clay will bring the wood and at 6’2 and 247 lbs, defenders would be advised to watch out. Clay is a big, bad man who brings to mind recollections of Ron Dayne…and Shaft. The Badgers also have a great change of pace back in Montee Ball, who – at 5’11, 225 – is no punk, himself. These two big, beefy beasts will be running behind a line that returns all five starters, including All-Big Ten OT Gabe Carimi and OG John Moffitt.
The Bad: The defense will need to be rebuilt and Tolzien will need to be effective for the Badgers to be anything other than the third best team in the conference. And he will have even greater expectations now that backup Curt Phillips has torn his ACL and will be out for the season. If Tolzien is truly plebian, the Badgers could even finish fourth in the conference like they did last year.
The Last Word: This team will go as far as Tolzien takes them. Teams are going to load the box to try to stop Clay and will probably be daring the Badgers to throw on them. I’m confident that with Ball and RB Zach Brown to spell him, Clay will be a destructive highlight machine this year, the question is whether that will translate into big wins or just SportsCenter highlights. If the Badgers can put some wins together (they play Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Iowa back-to-back-to-back-to-back) Clay could be a finalist for the Heisman and this team could compete for the Big (12?) Ten title.
Final Record: 9-4