The Wisconsin Badgers are projected to finish second place in the Big Ten Conference Leaders Division for 2013. The Ohio State Buckeyes, who have a loaded, talented team returning, seem to be everyone’s favorite to win the division. However, with legal issues causing some suspensions and distractions in Columbus, the Badgers could have a shot at passing the Buckeyes in the division standings.
Wisconsin has a chance to win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl for the third-straight season. Aside from the fact that division-favorite Ohio State could be missing some key playmakers, the Badgers return a lot of experience for new head coach Gary Andersen.
Eight offensive starters and six starters on defense are projected to start the season.
The biggest question mark for the Badgers this year is at the quarterback position. Joel Stave and Curt Phillips, who both made starts in 2012, will battle to win the starting job this season. Stave saw the most action and threw for 1,104 yards with six touchdowns.
Helping whoever is under center for the Badgers will be all five of last year’s leading receivers. Senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who’s one of the best in the conference, will play a key role in the Wisconsin passing attack. Leading tight end Jacob Pedersen will also be back this season.
Although star running back Montee Ball has moved on to the NFL, James White should be able to step right in and continue the tradition of a strong running game at Wisconsin. In his three-year career, he’s rushed for 2,571 yards and 32 touchdowns. Helping White in the backfield will be Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 621 yards last season.
Like the offense, the Badgers’ defense should also be strong this season. Several of the team’s top tacklers return, including linebacker Chris Borland and Ethan Armstrong. Borland was second on the team with 104 tackles in 2012, and Armstrong recorded 93 total tackles.
Last year, despite losing the final two games of the regular season, they qualified for the Big Ten Championship game due to Ohio State being ineligible for postseason play. In that game, the Badgers put together an impressive 70-31 victory over Nebraska.
Wisconsin needs to have a great season if it hopes to capture the Leader’s Division crown. With an experienced team and possible trouble looming for the favored Buckeyes, the Badgers seem to be primed for a special season.