Big Ten Football Countdown: No.3 Wisconsin

JSOnline

Wisconsin attempts to win the Big Ten title for the fourth straight year.

The last three years has brought Wisconsin unrivaled success as well as frustration. Despite winning the Big Ten for three consecutive years, Wisconsin couldn't find success in the post season, losing all three Rose Bowl games. If Wisconsin were to pull out another miraculous Big Ten title, it would be the second longest Big Ten championship streak in the conference's history. The ultimate goal for Bucky in 2013 should be to win a bowl game, even if it isn't the granddaddy of them all. Wisconsin certainly has the offensive power and strength on defense to carry them to the post season, thought it may not be enough to down Ohio State. The wild card factor on this team is how well Wisconsin's new head coach Gary Anderson will fare. Despite reviving Utah State, Anderson is largely unproven and it isn't clear whether he can replicate the success generated by former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.

2012 Record: 8-6 (4-4)

Returning Starters: 17 (8 OFF, 7 DEF, 2 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: RB Montee Ball (1830 yds. 22 TD), C Travis Frederick, OT Ricky Wagner

Key Losses on Defense: LB Mike Taylor, CB Devin Smith, CB Marcus Cromartie

Head Coach: Gary Anderson: 0-0 (1st Year)

Strength: Defensive Front Seven and Offense

Wisconsin was one of the best teams at stopping the rush last season, ranked 24th overall giving up just 128 rushing yards a game. With five defensive starters returning to the front seven, including all Big Ten first team LB Chris Borland (104 TOT), you can expect more of the same. Wisconsin will be equally as impressive on offense as all three quarterbacks return. Assuming QB Joel Stave (1104 yds. 6 TD) is the permanent starter, he will get to throw to Wisconsin's top two receivers in All Big Ten first team TE Jacob Pedersen (355 yds. 4 TD) and All Big Ten first team WR Jared Abbrederis (837 yds. 5 TD). Despite losing AP All American RB Montee Ball, the backfield won't be on short supply as both runningbacks James White (806 yds. 12 TD) and Melvin Gordon (621 yds. 3 TD) return. It is just a tad bit concerning having redshirt freshman C Dan Voltz up front.

Weakness/Questions: Secondary and Head Coach

Wisconsin had a great pass defense in 2013, ranking 18th in passing yards by allowing just 193 passing yards a game. With just S Dezmen Southward (69 TOT) as the only returning starter to the secondary, Wisconsin's opponents may find it easier to throw the ball when playing them. Thankfully for Wisconsin they play in a rush orientated conference. I wouldn't necessarily label "Head Coach" as a weakness, more as an unknown. Gary Anderson had a successful final two seasons with Utah State, going 7-6 and most recently 11-2 in which his Aggies almost upset Wisconsin. The Badger's schedule isn't exactly a walk in the park, with road games at Arizona State and Ohio State, but with all the talent still on this team Anderson shouldn't find success to be unachievable

Projected Record: 10-2 (7-1)

Bowl Game: Outback Bowl

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