Wisconsin Football: 5 Reasons Why Badgers Will Win Big Ten West Division In 2014

5 Reasons Why Badgers Will Win Big Ten West Division In 2014

Wisconsin Football 2014 Big Ten West Division
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

After winning back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 2011 and 2012, Wisconsin was unable to reach the conference's title game last season after a second-place finish in the Leaders division. In 2014, the Badgers will knock helmets in the newly-formed Big Ten West division, where they will be favorites to make their third appearance in the conference championship game. Here are the top five reasons why Bucky will make it to Indianapolis.

5. Big Ten West Division Is Weaker Than East

Wisconsin Football Big Ten West Division 2014
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

5. Big Ten West Division Is Weaker Than East

Wisconsin Football Big Ten West Division 2014
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

As the programs currently rank, Wisconsin received a favorable draw thanks to its geographical location by landing in the West division. The Badgers will avoid four of the top teams in the conference in Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State, who combined for 38 wins last season. Bucky will be challenged by Nebraska, but there is a significant drop-off in talent in the rest of the West programs.

4. Easy East Division Crossover Games

Wisconsin vs. Maryland Football 2014
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

4. Easy East Division Crossover Games

Wisconsin vs. Maryland Football 2014
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Division standings are generated by overall conference record, meaning crossover games are just as important as those played in-division. That being said, Wisconsin could not have asked for a better draw in its two East opponents, Maryland and Rutgers. Both programs will be playing in their respective inaugural Big Ten seasons, and neither is likely to win more than six games, especially after being subjected to a brutal East schedule each week.

3. Non-Conference Schedule Will Build Confidence, Generate Momentum

Wisconsin Football 2014 Non-Conference Schedule
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

3. Non-Conference Schedule Will Build Confidence, Generate Momentum

Wisconsin Football 2014 Non-Conference Schedule
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Though Wisconsin opens its season in Houston against its toughest opponent in LSU, win or lose, the Badgers will be prepared for the Big Ten. With a victory, Wisconsin will be on top of the college football world and vaulted into the national title picture, but should they lose, three winnable games at home (Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida) are lined up next to regain momentum and confidence.

2. Strong Offensive Attack

Wisconsin Football Offense Melvin Gordon
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2. Strong Offensive Attack

Wisconsin Football Offense Melvin Gordon
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin should dominate running the ball in 2014 with running back Melvin Gordon opting to return to school to set records behind his massive offensive line. Though the Badgers are young at receiver and could have a decision to make at quarterback between incumbent starter Joel Stave and dual-threat option Tanner McEvoy, the Badgers should have enough in the passing game to complement their elite ground attack.

1. Toughest Games Will Be At Home

Wisconsin Football Home Games 2014
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

1. Toughest Games Will Be At Home

Wisconsin Football Home Games 2014
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Like their favorable crossover schedule, Wisconsin will have the advantage of playing their toughest games in Madison. While Iowa will provide a challenge at Kinnick Stadium in late November, Wisconsin will likely be favored in all of its Big Ten road games. Taking on fellow division favorite Nebraska and a rising Minnesota squad at Camp Randall in two of its final three games is about as good as the Badgers could ask for.

Michael Briggs is a College Football Writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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