It’s Wisconsin, you all know what to expect, right? Yeah, probably. But maybe not. Probably, though. I wish I could be more definitive, but I am a simple country lawyer. Please, bear with me as I attempt to make heads-or-tails out of the evidence before us.
I. Case History/Opening Statement
A. Case History
This will be Paul Chryst’s 8th year at the helm in Madison, which will surpass Bret Bielema’s run of seven seasons. While Bielema racked up three conference titles to Chryst’s zero, that is best explained by reference to goings-on in Columbus. There might be the faintest murmurs of discontent from some quarters given that UW has only won the division once in the last four years, but, let’s be honest: Chryst’s seat is not even lukewarm. This is partly because it is DC Jim Leonhard’s 7th season in Madison (6th as DC), and he has set a high bar of defensive excellence. UW may fall short of expectations, but the bottom is unlikely to drop out at the Badgers haven’t missed a bowl game since 2001, and haven’t won fewer than 8 games since 2008.
B. Opening Statement
Bobby Engram was brought aboard—and his son switched from DB to WR—so it really seems like this year might be different. Then again, Graham Mertz hasn’t lit it up in camp, there is next to no returning production among the receiving corps (though Chimere Dike may be ready to make a leap), and Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi could form a dominating wrecking crew in the backfield. Then again, unlike last year’s brutal opening stretch, Wisconsin’s non-conference schedule should allow for ample on-the-field learning.
Sometimes the more you look, the less you really know.
Fortunately, there is less uncertainty on defense. While you never want to replace eight starters, Keeanu Benton (NT) and Nick Herbig (OLB) are both all-B1G caliber, and UW has made extensive use of the transfer portal to restock the secondary (and look for Hunter Wohler to make a name for himself this year). Jim Leonhard’s approach relies on pressure, and puts pressure on the DBs, so there is some anxiety about the new faces. However, the B1G (especially the West) is not overflowing with QB excellence, so, absent conclusive evidence to the contrary, you surely must agree with me that burden of proof is on those who predict a major step back.
A. Evidence Already Presented
B. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture (That Was Filmed in Madison)
It might be a new look for Wisconsin’s offense, but even if things don’t look all the different, fret not. The classics are classic for a reason:
III. Schedule of Events
IV. Emotional Plea
I dabbled with being dramatic. At various points this summer I have considered Nebraska and Purdue as likely division champions. However, remember the fundamentals. Don’t be deceived by convoluted hypotheticals. Last year’s B1G West was the first time since the conference switched to divisional play that a divisional champ (Iowa) did NOT have the best record in intra-divisional play (that was Wisconsin). That is unlikely to happen again, even with @Ohio State and @Michigan State as crossover games. The Badgers look to have the best roster in the division, even with some question marks. 9-3/6-3 seems eminently possible, which should be good for at least a share of the division title. What say you, members of the jury?
Wisconsin in the Big Ten?
This poll is closed
4-5 or worse
This poll is closed
5-7 or worse
12-0 speth liiiiiives