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Fast 40 countdown: Wisconsin Badgers

August 29, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Wisconsin Badgers

Last season: 11-2, 11th in the MRI

The good: This was beginning to look like an iffy year for the Badgers at quarterback. Scott Tolzien wasn't the greatest quarterback in the nation, but he was solid enough to keep Wisconsin rolling, with strong support from his running backs.

It was more the presence of Tolzien that helped. He was able to throw the ball. He did it fairly well, and that kept defenses from just stacking up on the Badgers.

Without him, this was going to be a tough season...until Russell Wilson came along. Wisconsin fans will need to send personal thank you cards to Tom O'Brien at North Carolina State for the gift that they will have this year.

In case you didn't know, Russell Wilson was probably the most valuable player in the ACC last season, even though the voters game that honor to Tyrod Taylor. Wilson will present Wisconsin with a mobile threat at quarterback, along with the strong power running skills of Montee Ball.

Together the two should make one of the most impressive offensive duos that the Big 10 has had in a while.

The bad: After a bye midway through the season, and then a virtual bye against Indiana at home, Wisconsin goes on the road to Michigan State and then to Ohio State. The Buckeyes might not be the team that everyone expected coming in to the year, but they still can be difficult to take out in Columbus.

The two road trips, plus a visit from Nebraska should be the toughest games all season and could determine if Wisconsin is playing in Indianapolis in December.

The Badgers could also be set for a letdown following such a strong season. Their one regular season loss came on the road and they put up some of the best turnover numbers and defensive numbers in the country. And Tolzien was only put on his back 14 times.

It almost seems like there is nowhere to go but down.

Best name: Dezmen Southward

Trending: Up - Yes, a team that made the Rose Bowl can actually trend higher, especially so after losing to TCU in heartbreaking fashion. Wisconsin seemed to make up for every potential hit to the program in the offseason, grabbing a new experienced quarterback, hiring a strong co-defensive coordinator to replace Dave Doeren and just looking like a team who was dedicated to winning. Even with the potential letdown year, the Badgers should be better on offense and at least as good on defense in 2011. They will most definitely be in the top 10 of the MRI all season and should be the favorites to get to Indianapolis. If things work out, there is also nothing keeping Wisconsin from showing up in New Orleans for the National Title game.


Posted August 29, 2011 2:49 PM

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