Here we go, another guest appearance for the college football 77 in 77. There are national title aspirations in Madison right now. And we have a Wisconsin Badgers expert to, David Kay “teach me how to Bucky” And yes, I know that reference annoys you.
2010 was: pretty damn awesome. A victory over #1 Ohio State, sharing in a Big Ten title, and a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time in a decade made it a memorable ride. The disappointment of losing to TCU at the Gran-daddy of them all certainly stung but did not take away from the Badgers’ accomplishments. UW also had the Outland Trophy Award winner in left tackle Gabe Carimi and Ronnie Lott Award Winner in defensive end J.J. Watt. Both players were first round picks in the NFL Draft. Montee Ball was four yards shy of 1,000 yards which would have made Wisconsin the first ever Division One team to boast three one-thousand yards rushers since John Clay and James White both topped that mark.
BMOCs: Russell-mania has taken over in Madison. Former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson chose to transfer to Wisconsin and suddenly turned the team from a potential Big Ten Championship contender to legit national title threat. That is pretty high praise for someone who has never taken a snap in a Badger uniform. I would be ignorant to talk about Wisconsin and “big man” without mentioning the offensive line. Even though they lose Carimi and John Moffitt on the left side, the Badgers breed offensive linemen like Bruce and Kris Jenner breed spoiled children, so that unit shouldn’t miss a beat.
2011 will be fruitful if: Wilson lives up to the hype. White and Ball will get the job done on the ground behind that massive o-line, but Wilson will have to replace Scott Tolzien’s accuracy in the passing game for the Badgers to truly be in the BCS Title hunt. It will also be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Paul Chryst utilizes Wilson’s speed in the run game. The defense must also capitalize on their opportunities like they did a year ago. Getting linebacker Chris Borland back from injury should help the cause.
2011 will be awful if: Complacency sets in and the Badgers get big-headed like they did in 2008 when they were a top-15 pre-season team but failed miserably in living up to the expectations and finished 3-5 in conference play. That does not appear to be the case early in camp but early success has a funny way of affecting a locker room.
Bottom Line: Anything less than a trip to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game and a BCS bowl berth will be seen as a disappointment. That shows you just how high the expectations have become at Wisconsin.
(Writer’s note: Paul M. Banks did the pre-season rankings in the “77 in 77” and put the Badgers at 17. I would have placed them closer to the top ten.)
Wisconsin Rankings: #23 Athlon, #17 Lindy’s, #20 Phil Steele
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