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Wisconsin Badgers Football 2019 Postmortem: Something for everyone

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A postmortem can’t be “late” until the next season starts, right?

The (very) short recap of the season.

On the whole, the 2019 Wisconsin Badgers football seas—

No, give me the Wikipedia version of the season.

Okay, coming into the season, Wisconsin had some signif—

No, god. I’m on my phone and this light’s turning green soon.

Fine.

  • Wisconsin won ten regular season games and zero postseason games for a 10-4 overall record
  • Wisconsin finished the year ranked 11th in the AP Poll
  • Jonathan Taylor set the record for rushing yards in a player’s first three seasons
  • Wisconsin won the West, made and lost the CCG, and made and lost the Rose Bowl

Five years from now, what will the average College Football Fan remember/know about this season?

Let’s be honest: the average CFB fan is not an OTE-er, and even the average OTE-er doesn’t remember much about not-their-own teams after a year or two. What are people going to remember, know, or say about the 2019 Wisconsin Badgers at the start of the 2025 season? In my view there are really only four options:

  1. Wisconsin played in the Rose Bowl
  2. “Jonathan Taylor was a really good running back! Was he still there in 2019 or was he already rushing his way in the hearts, minds, and record books of the Minnesota Vikings and their fans?” — Jonathan Taylor being good and on the team, generally
  3. That magical twenty minutes when the world was alive with questions like “whoa could Ohio State AND Wisconsin make the playoff if this lead holds?”
  4. Illinois beating Wisconsin for the biggest upset of the year and 2nd biggest in the past forty years of Big Ten play.

We can debate and discuss the four listed above, but if I’m ranking them based on likelihood of getting mentioned in 2025, I’m going with 2 and 4 all day.

What will you, a Big Ten nerd but not a Wisconsin fan, remember in five years?

More bullets = more space = more $$$

  • Wisconsin didn’t give up any points until the 3rd quarter of the third game of the season, shutting out USF, Central Michigan, and regular Michigan for a half
  • Wisconsin’s defense pitched four shutouts in its first six games, adding yearly cupcakes Kent State and Michigan State to the list in the previous bullet
  • During those six games, Wisconsin’s defense scored more points than it gave up
  • Wisconsin’s first loss came in its seventh game, playing at...Illinois? Is this right?
  • Wisconsin obliterated Minnesota, at Minnesota, in a snowstorm that made for some excellent visuals at times. Can’t ask for better Ax-getting.
  • The conference championship game had something for everyone. Anti-OSUers got an entire half of OSU getting dumped all over, followed by anti-Wisconsiners getting a half of the reverse but turned up to 11

This was a strange, strange year as a Wisconsin fan. Coming into the season, I was optimistic that 2019 would be more like 2015-2017 and not at all like 2018, but I was uncertain whether Wisconsin could overcome Nebraska (lol) and its own tough schedule to win the division. Wisconsin overcame both, got a timely assist from Iowa, and somehow found itself in the CCG and Rose Bowl again. Along the way, though, Wisconsin caused its fans whiplash like a Midwestern dad with poor tubing etiquette gunning it while his child is sitting ten feet away, fifty feet of slack tow rope ready to cause some separated shoulders.

First came the crazy resurgence of the classic smothering Wisconsin defense. In hindsight basically everyone they played the first six weeks had a terrible offense, but it felt good at the time. Riding high and wondering whether a loss to OSU could be overcome with a win over OSU in the CCG, Wisconsin fans got to see the most slow-motion, grinding, boring upset of all time against Illinois. Oof. Thankfully they rebounded after the first OSU loss and ran through the division, Illinois excepted.

Tell me something people who don’t root for Wisconsin won’t know or realize about 2019 Wisconsin football.

I’ve got one ready to go for the question that I totally didn’t make up solely to fit the answer I already had: Jack Coan was better than you thought. He completed 69.6% of his passes this season, averaging 8 yards per attempt, and flashing a VERY refreshing 18:5 TD:Int ratio. He finished the season with a Passer Rating of 151.8, and was by statistical measure the 3rd-best QB in the conference. Plus he handed the ball off good as fuck. And really, although we all wish his YPA had been a bit higher, when you’re the QB for a team with the 7th-best defense that also boasts one of the best RBs in school history, Coan’s numbers look pretty dang good.

“Jack Coan: Better than you think” is certainly a slogan

Wisconsin sports: Just let us be pretty good, we don’t need a championship or anything!

I’m a giver. What hope can you give to Wisconsin’s 2020 opponents?

Because this is a postmortem rather than a 2020 season preview, I’m going to stick to listing the key players who are donezo, never to see the field for the Wisconsin Badgers.

  • Zack Baun and Chris Orr, both linebackers, both out of eligibility and headed to Day 3 of the draft (I assume)
  • That’s it for the defense. Wisconsin is set to return 9 of 11 starters
  • Jonathan Taylor and Quintez Cephus, RB and WR respectively, both declaring early for Day 2 and 3, respectively. Or whatever the last day is, that’s when Cephus will go. I assume Taylor is a Day 2 pick unless somebody takes a flyer on a great RB who...needs work in the passing and not-fumbling aspects of his game
  • Tyler Biadasz, very good center, declaring early to go Day 2, maybe Day 1 of the draft
  • AJ Taylor, WR, out of eligibility and had to end his career with an injury at Minnesota
  • David Moorman and Jason Erdmann, both offensive lineman, both out of eligibility
  • Aron Cruickshank, technically a WR but mostly the electric kick returner who led the conference in kick return average. He’s transferring to Rutgers. Yes, that Rutgers.
  • Some lesser used linebackers (Christian Bell - transfer, Tyler Johnson - graduation) are gone

So there’s your hope, non-Wisconsin fans. Gotta replace three starters on the O Line, the top two WRs, and a really, really, really good RB. The offense scares me and the defense does not even a little. What is this world.


P.S. I stumbled across the 2019 Wisconsin preview article for the defense. What’s your favorite prediction? Mine is:

Clearly and mathematically, then, the 3-4 defense simply had an uncharacteristically poor season in 2018, and we here at the OTE Wisconsin writer’s lounge attribute that to the 3-4 playing with an undisclosed injury. An offseason to recover should have the 3-4 right back where we all want it to be: as one of the top two defenses in the conference. Who’s going to help make that happen?

The defense finished as 2nd best in the conference. Please don’t read any of the other preview articles or predictions.

Poll

Looking back, 2019 Wisconsin

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Finished 1st in my heart
    (19 votes)
  • 26%
    Had a good-to-great season
    (38 votes)
  • 40%
    Went to the Rose instead of Penn State, thank god
    (57 votes)
  • 19%
    I’m a Minnesota fan and can’t bring myself to pick another option even though deep down inside that’s what I want to do
    (27 votes)
141 votes total Vote Now