Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin Badgers to Make B1G Very Big Tenny this Fall


Don’t laugh- the best college football playoff contender in the Big Ten this year will come out of the West division. It’s the Wisconsin Badgers, led by Jonathan Taylor, their star tailback and strong Heisman Trophy contender.  Taylor could be the best back in the country and he’s the only Big Ten individual player with a realistic shot at the highest individual honor.

He’s coming off back to back top ten finishes in Heisman voting, so the best online casinos usa will have him among the top contenders on their board to claim the award this fall. As they should, because Taylor is poised to become the first Badger to receive a Heisman finalist invitation to New York City since Montee Ball.

He’s no doubt the headliner of the 2019 group of players invited to Big Ten Media Days, which take place in Chicago on Thursday and Friday. The pundits may have Michigan as favorites, and you might find very favorable odds on the Wolverines to win the league at and other online sports books, but UM is a sucker bet in 2019. Wisconsin is a smarter wager, and the season really starts this week, with the conference’s annual kick-off event.  

Once again almost nobody is bringing their quarterback (just two of the 14 teams in Iowa- Nate Stanley and Nebraska- Adrian Martinez) to it and on one hand that’s inexcusable and on the other hand it’s mildly understandable, sort of.


It’s inexcusable in that the QB is the face of your team every single season, and he’s the guy that fans and media want to hear from and get to know. It’s the highest profile position in all of sports, so the fact that a dozen league teams left their signal caller at home, from a branding event, is absolutely absurd.

On the other hand, this is a major transition year for Big Ten quarterbacking. A lot of teams are starting over and many of them are starting over with transfers who are relatively new to the program. In short, it’s going to be a down year for Big Ten QBs as a whole, given all the 2018 defections and Big Ten Media Days is about putting your best foot forward.

And if you’re a program like Rutgers or Illinois, it’s very hard to do that in general, and actually impossible if you believe in bringing your quarterback and presenting your strength at the same time. You know the NFL cliche of all cliches- “it’s a quarterback driven league,” (or “it’s a passing league.”)

Well, the Big Ten, like the SEC, is a tailback driven league, and except for a couple exceptions, it always has been. If you want a passing league you go to a couple hot weather conferences, the Pac 12 and Big 12, where they sling it all over the place and defense is quite often optional at best.

Look for the Big Ten to have that mid to late ‘90s feel this autumn, when they boasted names likes Ron Dayne, Terrell Fletcher, Robert Holcombe, Darnell Autry, Damien Anderson, Robert Holcombe, Rocky Harvey, Tyrone Wheatley, Tim Biakabutuka, Sedrick Shaw, Tavian Banks, Eddie George, Pepe Pearson….the list goes on and on.

And that’s advantage Wisconsin, especially in a year where Ohio State is transitioning their head coach, Michigan has major personnel question marks, Penn State is dealing with a lot of turnover and Michigan State is lost at sea on offense. The Badgers came close to possibly reaching the playoff just two years ago. All they had to do was close the deal against Ohio State in Indianapolis.

This year, the Buckeyes may have superior talent, and probably the best talent in the league, but life after Urban Meyer and Dwayne Haskins is going to be much more difficult than many believe. The league favorite, among the media, is Michigan and really that makes me wonder when, if ever, the pundits will learn their lesson on the maize and blue.

The Jim Harbaugh era at Michigan has been much more hype than substance and this year brings a lot of legitimate reasons for skepticism. A defense that was immensely, extraordinarily talented, but got gashed badly down the stretch against better competition must now replace a lot of key pieces.  The coordinator hire gamble could backfire too.

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For reasons previously stated, Michigan State and Penn State won’t be stepping up to fill the void of Ohio State and Michigan looking less dominant.

Enter Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin- all the pieces are in place to carpe diem. 

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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