As much as I want to be the homer I usually am when it comes to sports, I’m refraining with the Badgers this year…at least a little bit. I do think Bucky beats Ohio State under the lights October 16th at Camp Randall but I see them losing to Iowa the following week in a tough contest. That being said, I think the Badgers go 11-1 overall with a 7-1 record in the Big Ten. This is the year the Badgers don’t lose one of those “How did that happen” games against the likes of a Northwestern, an Illinois, or an Indiana.
Much has been made about the expectations for Bret Bielema’s squad this year but not many experts are predicting them to go to the Rose Bowl. And I agree. I think Iowa represents the Big Ten this year in Pasadena with the Badgers and possibly Ohio State getting At-Large bid’s into BCS Bowl Games. It HAS to happen this year. They got the weapons…which leads to some of my keys to the season.
#1. The Defense. Everybody knows about the Badgers 10 returning starters on offense. It’s how quickly the defensive unit can gel. Will they win the turnover battle? I believe they can because of the maturation of Scott Tolzien at Quarterback. One of the biggest questions is who will anchor the D-Line with J.J. Watt? Other guys like Patrick Butrym and Louis Nzegwu need to step up for Watt to be effective and not attract constant double-teams. If the defense can get even a little production from any of the three Freshman Tackle’s ( Jordan Kohout, Beau Allen, Ethen Hemer), they’ll be alright.
#2. The O-Line. The Badgers starting offensive line has more combined starts than any other team in the Big Ten. That’s huge…literally. Left Tackle Gabe Carimi is one of the best Tackle’s in all of College Football and he’ll do a great job of protecting Scott Tolzien this year, giving him the time he needs in the pocket. Last year, 6 of Tolzien’s 11 picks came against Ohio State and Iowa. If he can avoid those mistakes in big games, they may have a chance to win both of those games this year. Look for a starting line that averages 6’5″ and 323 pounds to protect Tolzien and open up holes for Clay & Co. all year long.
#3. Special Teams. Brett Bielema has been known to work closely with special teams, especially kicking teams. The Badgers have Juniors Philip Welch and Brad Nortman to handle the kicking and punting duties once again and these two are absolute weapons for Wisco. Welch has converted nearly 80 percent of his field goals in his first two years in Madison. And Nortman, who is a local kid from Brookfield, WI has a booming leg that will undoubtedly help out the defense.
The Badgers have depth at a lot of positions but for them to get to a BCS Bowl, their core players need to stay healthy. Unlike most college teams, the Badgers have studs on both sides of the football, and they got em in numbers. Scott Tolzien, John Clay, Lance Kendricks, Gabe Carimi, Nick Toon, J.J. Watt and Jay Valai need to stay healthy for this team to be as successful as they can be.
Here’s how the rest of the Big Ten will shape up for the 2010 season.
1. Iowa 11-1 (7-1)
2. Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
3. Ohio State 11-1 (7-1)
4. Penn State 9-3 (6-2)
5. Michigan State 9-3 (5-3)
6. Michigan 7-5 (4-4)
7. Purdue 7-5 (4-4)
8. Northwestern 7-5 (4-4)
9. Illinois 6-6 (3-5)
10. Minnesota 5-7 (2-6)
11. Indiana 4-8 (1-7)
Thanks for reading, any comments or questions are appreciated and will be answered in a timely matter.
About the Author
Written by Chad Seely
Hey sports fans! Welcome to my Wisconsin Badgers football blog. For any Badger scores, news or questions you may have, come check out this blog! For those who don't know me, I'm a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I graduated in May 2009 with a Broadcast Journalism degree and returned in Fall 2009 to get a Minor in Multimedia which I completed in May 2010. In the summer, you can catch me on AM1230 WSBB, splitting time as the play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the Daytona Cubs, the Advanced-A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.