College Football Preview: The 2015 Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers Preview
2014 Record: 11-3 (10th of 128) Won Outback Bowl 34-31 vs. Auburn
Odds to Win National Championship: +8300 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Wisconsin Badgers have a new head coach in Paul Chryst, but expectations don’t change for a program that has reached a bowl game every year since 2002. The Badgers have consistently been one of the better teams in the Big Ten for the last decade, and fans aren’t expecting anything different. Wisconsin hopes it can be one of those teams this season that pushes Ohio State.
Offense: Joel Stave brings experience at the quarterback position, but he has to be far better than his 53.4 percent completion percentage and 10 interceptions. Stave certainly beats having to bring in a new QB, but a combined 23 picks the last two seasons isn’t going to cut it. Corey Clement will become the full-time running back after averaging more than six yards per carry and scoring nine touchdowns on 147 touches. Alex Erickson returns after leading Wisconsin with 55 receptions and Troy Fumagalli should be ready to take that next step after playing tight end well as a freshman. The main concern with this unit is that Wisconsin has to replace three starters along the offensive line, which is always the Badgers bread and butter.
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Defense: Wisconsin returns eight starters from a defense that ranked fourth in the country last season. Needless to say, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has to be happy with what he has to work with this season. Michael Caputo will lead the secondary and is a player who has gotten better each season, while Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary provide experience at cornerback. The heart of this defense is in the front seven, as Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert is a duo that combined for 20 tackles for loss last season. You add guys such as Leon Jacobs and Jesse Hayes, and the Badgers have nice depth at the linebacker position. Wisconsin has to replace some guys such as Marcus Trotter and Derek Landisch, but this is a defense that should once again be a top-25 unit that keeps the Badgers in games.
Special Teams: Rafael Gaglianone returns at kicker after making 86.4 percent of 22 field goal attempts. Drew Meyer returns at punter after averaging 37.4 yards on 54 punt attempts.
Overall: The Wisconsin Badgers have to be the favorite to win the Big Ten West and return to the championship game. The defense is solid, and there’s enough talent on the offensive side for this team no longer to be a one-man show now that Melvin Gordon is in the NFL. Wisconsin is one of the best teams on paper in the Big Ten and is a sleeper playoff team if it can find a way to win this conference.