#8 Wisconsin Football 2012 Preview

Wisconsin Badgers

Overall Rank: #8
#2 Big Ten Conference
Wisconsin College Football 2012 Team Preview
Wisconsin Team Page


Badger Power was in full effect in 2011.  Wisconsin had a big boost before the season started when former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson decided he would take his talents to Madison and he made the most of his final year of eligibility.  Wisconsin enjoyed a dream season that ended with them winning the Big Ten.  They stumbled in a shoot-out with Oregon at the Rose Bowl, but their season should not be understated.  Eleven wins is difficult to attain in a ground-and-pound conference.  Coach Bret Bielema probably does not want to think about how it would have turned out if Wilson was not his quarterback.  In 2012, he gets to find out.

2011 Record: (11-3)
2011 Bowl:  Rose Bowl vs Oregon (L 38-45)
Coach: Bret Bielema (60-19)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Canada
Defensive Coordinator:  Chris Ash

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Montee Ball, RB, 1,923 yards
Passing: Montee Ball, RB, 57 yards
Receiving: Jared Abbrederis, WR, 933 yards
Tackles: Mike Taylor, LB, 150
Sacks: Beau Allen, DL, 8.5
Interceptions: Shelton Johnson, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB James White, TE Jacob Pedersen, LT Ricky Wagner, LB Chris Borland, DE David Gilbert, C Travis Frederick, DT Ethan Hemer

Key Losses: QB Russell Wilson, WR Nick Toon, DL Louis Nzegwu, DB Aaron Henry, K Phillip Welch, P Brad Nortman

With Wilson at the helm the offense was on point.  It certainly did not hurt that Heisman finalist Montee Ball was receiving Wilson’s handoffs.  He was third in the nation in rushing with nearly 2,000 yards, and he scored 39 total touchdowns.  They combined for nearly 5,500 of offense between rushing and passing.  Overall, their offense was ranked 14th in the nation and easily the best in the conference at 469 yards per game.  They were very prolific as well, scoring 44 points per game.  The Badgers also had one of the stronger defenses in the country, mainly in the passing game as they held quarterbacks to 163 yards passing.  Their bread was buttered in the turnover category, they averaged more than one turnover in the plus column per game in 2011 which ranked them fourth in the FBS in that statistic.

Where the Badgers could stand to improve from last season is in the run game on the defensive side of the ball.  They were a middle-of-the-pack team in stopping opposing runners.  The fact that they were so great in pass defense probably masked their shortcomings in the ground game.  As solid as their defense was, they could stand to put a little more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  They averaged 1.8 sacks per game, but that did not put them near the top of any lists.  Their new quarterback will also not be as agile and shifty as Wilson was.  The line will have to do better than allowing nearly two per game.  That average was with a mobile guy.  With a pocket passer, they may run into some problems.

The Bottom Line:
Wisconsin is looking forward.  They would like to reverse their fortune in 2012’s Rose Bowl and try and win that game in 2013.  The coaching staff took a big sigh of relief when Montee Ball decided to return to school.  They already have a leg up on most competition in the conference because of Ball.  Replacing Wilson will not be as easy.  Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien solidifies that position.  He broke all sorts of freshman records with the Terps, and he is ready to play.  Coach Bielema is hoping his recent luck with tranfers continues with O’Brien.  A seamless transition would do wonders for Wisconsin in 2012.  They eye another conference title with a couple of pre-season All-Americans.

Projected Bowl:  Fiesta Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 235.57 (11th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense:  234.29 (61, 4)
Total Offense: 469.86 (14, 1)
Scoring Offense: 44.14 (6, 1)
Rushing Defense: 152.79 (60, 6)
Pass Defense: 163.64 (4, 2)
Total Defense: 316.43 (15, 3)
Scoring Defense: 19.00 (13, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.14 (4, 1)
Sacks: 1.79 (71, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.79 (57, 6)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#39 Montee Ball
#41 Ricky Wagner

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#98 Dan Voltz
#148 Vince Biegel