#19 Wisconsin Football 2019 Preview

Wisconsin Badgers
Overall Rank: #19
#4 Big Ten
 Wisconsin Logo
Wisconsin once again finished in the top two in the Big Ten West. Coach Paul Chryst has accomplished that feat in each of his four seasons as the Badgers head coach. Wisconsin has also won a bowl game in each of those four campaigns, most recently crushing Miami 35-3 in the Pinstripe Bowl.
2018 Record: 8-5, 5-4
2018 Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Miami (W 35-3)
Coach: Paul Chryst (42-12 at Wisconsin, 61-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Rudolph
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leonhard
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jonathan Taylor, RB, 2,194 yards
Passing: Jack Coan, QB, 515 yards
Receiving: AJ Taylor, WR, 521 yards
Tackles: Zack Baun, LB, 63
Sacks: Zack Baun, LB, 2.5
Interceptions: Madison Cone, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Garrett Groshek, TE Jake Ferguson, WR Danny Davis, OL Tyler Biadasz, S Eric Burrell, S Scott Nelson, CB Falon Hicks
Key Losses: RB Taiwan Deal, QB Alex Hornibrook, OL Michael Deiter, OL David Edwards, LB TJ Edwards, LB Ryan Connelly, LB Andrew Van Ginkel, S D’Cota Dixon, K Rafael Gaglianone
The Wisconsin offense will revolve around running back Jonathan Taylor. As a freshman and sophomore, Taylor has rushed for an amazing 4,171 yards. As a sophomore last season he led the nation with 2,194 yards on the ground and scored 16 touchdowns. The Badgers, as usual, have a strong offensive line, although this group does have a little less experience than normal. Regardless, Taylor will have another great season. Wisconsin did lose quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who transferred to Florida State, but they have a couple quality options. Jack Coan played well last season, completing 56 of his 93 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns and is the likely candidate to start the 2019 season. However, Graham Mertz is a very talented freshman who enrolled early and looked impressive in the spring. With AJ Taylor, Danny Davis, Kendric Pryor and tight end Jake Ferguson all back, whoever is under center will have some quality targets to work with.
The defense was a bit disappointing last season and it all started with an inconsistent pass rush. The return of Garrett Rand, who missed last season with an injury, should help. Replacing inside linebackers TJ Edwards and Ryan Connelly will not be easy, but there are high hopes for Chris Orr and Jack Sanborn. Outside linebacker Zack Baun is the team’s top returning tackler with 63 and he could be in for a breakout senior season. Six cornerbacks who started at least one game are back, led by sophomore Faion Hicks. Fellow sophomore Scott Nelson started at free safety last season and Eric Burrell will have to replace D’Cota Dixon at strong safety
The Bottom Line:
Wisconsin has the toughest schedule of any team in the West, and perhaps even the entire Big Ten. Their crossover opponents from the East are Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. That is a tough draw. The good news is after Wisconsin’s opener at South Florida, they play five straight games at home, but winning the West will be extremely difficult with this schedule. This Badgers team will have to earn another trip to the conference championship game.
Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 273.4 (6th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 157.7 (118, 12)
Total Offense: 421.1 (36, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.7 (61, 7)
Rushing Defense: 155.1 (54, 5)
Pass Defense: 189.1 (22, 5)
Total Defense: 344.2 (29, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.6 (34, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (63, 7)
Sacks: 1.46 (114, 13)
Sacks Allowed: 1.85 (43, 5)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#28 Tyler Biadasz
#29 Jonathan Taylor
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#22 Logan Brown
#35 Graham Mertz