B1G 2013 // Can the Badgers make it back to Pasadena?

Stephen Dunn

Wisconsin week kicks off at OTE with a cocktail party preview of the 2013 Badgers.

Last Season

Good News:

Well, all things considered, the 2012 season for the Wisconsin Badgers wasn't terrible. The Badgers managed to recover from a bumpy start to make a second straight appearance in the B1G Championship Game and a third straight appearance in the Rose Bowl.

As with the 2011 B1G Championship game, the Badgers emerged victorious in Indianapolis, this time in even more dominating fashion, completely stomping Nebraska. Seriously, did you watch that game? Man, that was fun. I don't think I'm ever going to let Jesse live that one down.

Montee Ball set a new record for career touchdowns, proving that the Badgers still produce some of the best running backs in the country. But the Badgers lost young QB standout Joel Stave to a collarbone injury against Michigan State. Absent that injury, the end of the Wisconsin season may well have been different...

Bad News:

The third time was most definitely not the charm for Bucky in the Rose Bowl. Though the game against Stanford was probably more competitive than many believed it would be, the Badgers still dropped it 20-14. Given the strength of Ohio State in 2013, it may have been that 2012 was the last, best chance that the Badgers had to take home a victory in Pasadena.

Neutral News:

Ding-dong the Bro is dead coaching a SEC team! I refuse to categorize this as bad news, as it seemed like Bret Bielema might simply be unable to actually win a big time bowl game with the Badgers. And I'm thrilled with the replacement that Wisconsin landed, who I'll profile for tomorrow's article.

Of course, it's not like the Badgers just lost Bielema. Matt Canada (offensive coordinator), Zach Azzanni (wide recievers coach), Andy Buh (linebackers), Charlie Partridge (defensive line), Chris Ash (defensive coordinator), and others all left in the wake of Bielema's departure. It remains to be seen what effect these departures have on the Badgers this year.

Offense

It certainly looks like Joel Stave hasn't suffered any lasting effects from his season ending injury last year. Despite not being the starter, Stave took control of the offense by the end of spring ball and is poised to return to leading the Badgers this season.

Of course, this doesn't take into account the transfer of Tanner McEvoy. McEvoy just arrived on campus a few weeks ago, and will provide some competition for Stave and second-stringer Curt Phillips as the summer continues.

He'll have returning standout senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and senior tight end Jacob Pedersen to throw to, which makes me extremely happy because I can continue to shout "ABBRE-CADABRA!" at random points during games.

Melvin Gordon and James White anchor the running game, and I have no doubt they will continue the Wisconsin bruising run tradition in 2013. But... the depth on the line is a little bit of a concern. Without a strong line to make holes and provide pocket protection for Stave, the Wisconsin offense might stall.

Defense

The Wisconsin defense will remain solid, anchored by linebacker Chris Borland and tackle Beau Allen. I expect good things from Dezmond Southward and Ethan Hemer as well. The line has a good amount of depth, with some up and coming playmakers in Brendan Kelly, Tyler Dippel, and Vince Biegel.

I like the chances the Badgers have with incoming coordinator Dave Aranda, and it's possible that with some of the questions on the offense, the defense will be the factor that wins games for Bucky this year.

Special Teams

Abbrederis should still put in good work in the return game, but I'm less confident about the kicking game because... well... Kyle French. Still, the punting game is good and I'm confident that the Badgers can keep opponents pinned deep for the majority of possessions this season.

The Schedule

With the exception of the Spartans, the Badgers have one of the better schedules in the entirety of the B1G this year. The first two non-con games should be easy wins against U Mass and Tennessee Tech. A late season game against BYU also does not particularly trouble me.

I'm a little worried about the road game at Arizona State, because the Sun Devils have a backfield that is on par with, or perhaps even better than, the Badgers. I'm pretty confident that the Badgers can stop Marion Grice and D.J. Foster, but this game is not an easy win.

On the conference side of things, the only truly scary game is against Ohio State. The Badgers have to go to the Shoe and take on a team that might contend for this year's National Championship. Fortunately, the Badgers completely avoid Nebraska, Michigan, and Michigan State. While I'll be sad not to have those awesome games, the in-season record should be better because of it.

Strong upset potential lurks in the games against Northwestern and Penn State, so I just have to hope the Badgers are healthy for them. Both are home games, however, and Wisconsin has a history of being dominant at Camp Randall. I'll be present for the Northwestern game, though likely wearing red and not purple.

The Badgers should be favored against Purdue, Iowa, Minnesota, and Indiana.

I can't write off Illinois... Oh wait yes I can.

By my count, the Badgers have six easy wins, four winnable challenges, and one tough game. Barring a series of terrible injuries, anything less than 9-3 is a disappointment, and less than 8-4 is a cataclysm.

If you're talking to a Wisconsin fan...

Don't mention:

The three straight Rose Bowl losses.

Do mention:

Beer.

B1G 2013 | WISCONSIN WEEK

MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Smartest Guys in the Room

WEDNESDAY | Badger Potluck

THURSDAY | Wildcard

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close

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