#11 Wisconsin Football 2020 Preview

Wisconsin Badgers
Overall Rank: #11
#3 Big Ten
 Wisconsin Logo
Wisconsin picked up their fourth season of at least ten wins in the last five years under head coach Paul Chryst. The Badgers won the Big Ten West title as they defeated rival Minnesota 38-17 to punch their ticket to Indianapolis. Wisconsin gave Ohio State a heck of a fight in the Big Ten championship game as they had a 21-7 lead against the Buckeyes at halftime. However, Ohio State proved to be strong offensively in the second half as they rallied to beat the Badgers 34-21. Wisconsin also wasn’t able to finish the job in the Rose Bowl against Oregon as they dropped a nail biter to the Ducks 28-27.
2019 Record: 10-4, 7-2
2019 Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Oregon (27-28 L)
Coach: Paul Chryst (52-16 at Wisconsin, 71-35 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Rudolph
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leonhard
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nakia Watson, RB, 331 yards
Passing:  Jack Coan, QB, 2,727 yards
Receiving: Jake Ferguson, TE, 407 yards
Tackles: Jack Sanborn, ILB, 80
Sacks: Jack Sanborn, ILB, 5.5
Interceptions: Jack Sanborn, ILB, 3
Other Key Returnees: DL Garrett Rand, OL Cole Van Lanen, S Eric Burrell, RB Garrett Groshek, OLB Noah Burks, S Reggie Pearson, CB Caesar Williams, WR Danny Davis, WR Kendric Pryor, DE Isaiahh Loudermilk, K Collin Larsh, CB Faion Hicks, LS Adam Bay, OL Logan Bruss, DL Keeanu Benton
Key Losses: LB Chris Orr, RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Quintez Cepheus, OL Tyler Biadasz, LB Zach Baun, WR A.J. Taylor, P Anthony Lotti , OL David Moorman
Jack Coan is back at quarterback and he did a very nice job last season, throwing for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. Graham Mertz is going to push Coan for the job as he was a four-start recruit coming out of high school and played well in limited action as a freshman last year. Replacing Jonathan Taylor and his 2,003 rushing yards and 26 all-purpose touchdowns will be a huge storyline heading into the 2020 season. Nakia Watson is the leading returning rusher as he gained 331 yards while averaging 4.5 yards per carry as a freshman and will get plenty of chances to try and secure the starting running back job. Garrett Groshek is a quality pass catching option out of the backfield. Groshek caught 29 passes for 289 yards last season. Tight end Jake Ferguson is the leading returning pass catcher as he caught 33 passes for 407 yards and two touchdowns in 2019 for the Badgers. Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis provide a couple experienced wide receivers. Cole Van Lanen will lead an offensive line group that is always strong as Wisconsin only allowed 1.43 sacks per game in 2019 and should reload quickly in 2020.
The Badgers will be strong up front as they bring back Isaiahh Loudermilk and Garrett Rand to lead a defense that only allowed 99.8 rushing yards per game in 2019. Jack Sanborn and Noah Burks will lead the linebackers and Sanborn is the top returner statistically in tackles, sacks, and interceptions. Throwing the football will be easier said than done for opposing offenses against this Wisconsin secondary as they only allowed 187.4 yards per game through the air. Cesar Williams led the Badgers with 11 pass breakups, and he’ll be joined by Eric Burrell and Collin Wilder, who had six pass breakups apiece last season. Collin Larsh will need to take a step forward with his accuracy from inside 40 yards as he only made three of six field goals from 30-39 yards in 2019.
The Bottom Line:
Schedule wise it will be an eventful first half of the season for Wisconsin as it will be a gauntlet after the Indiana and Southern Illinois games. Appalachian State visits Camp Randall Stadium on September 19 followed by a trip to Michigan, a neutral site game in Green Bay against Notre Dame and a home game against Minnesota on October 10. If the Badgers can go 3-1 with a loss to Notre Dame, then they will be in outstanding shape. The second half of the schedule opens up a bit until the final week of the regular season when Wisconsin will head to Kinnick Stadium to battle it out with Iowa. Bottom line, if the Badgers can find a consistent replacement for Taylor on offense, along with solid quarterback play, they should end up winning the Big Ten West again in 2020.
Projected Bowl: Citrus Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 233.1 (15th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 200.1 (96, 10)
Total Offense: 433.2 (38, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.1 (23, 4)
Rushing Defense: 99.8 (6, 2)
Pass Defense: 187.4 (12, 4)
Total Defense: 287.1 (4, 2)
Scoring Defense: 16.9 (10, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (61, 7)
Sacks: 3.64 (5, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.43 (23, 2)