Wisconsin

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers


The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Wisconsin Badgers


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No. 8: Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin Badgers Prespring Status

There night have been a defensive meltdown against Penn State in the Big Ten Championship. There might have been the coffee’s-for-closers-only losses to Michigan and Ohio State, and the big bowl win might have been against a MAC team – even with Western Michigan being as good as it was – but it was still a special season that showed that the program is still among the nation’s elite.

There wasn’t any passing game, the running game wasn’t up to the pre-Paul Chryst snuff, but there’s a chance this year’s offense can be just as good if not better, while the defense shouldn’t fall off too much, if at all. The team really should be that good, but also, the schedule should be far, far easier.

Seven starters are back on offense – eight, depending on if you want to make Alex Hornibrook the starting quarterback or not – while the defense gets back seven starters along with an impressively deep group at all spots. However …

Wisconsin Badgers Biggest Issue

Outside linebacker. Losing Corey Clement and third-down star Dare Ogunbowale from the backfield stings, and the receiving corps still has to find someone who can make something happen down the field, but the offense will be okay. The defense might not be if Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt aren’t easily replaced.

Watt, though, was a devastating force when he was on – coming up with 11.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss – while Biegel was a heart-and-soul type who was terrific on the other side. The linebackers come up with the pass rush on this D, and they’re going to need to shine right away this spring.

Wisconsin Badgers Biggest Positive

Good luck running on this group. Yeah, Watt and Biegel were special, but the entire front three returns – along with all the key backups – from the nation’s third-best run defense. With T.J. Edwards leading the linebacking corps, and with Leon Orr and Jack Cichy coming off of injury, look out. Even if the Badgers aren’t as dynamic without the velociraptors on the outside, the production will there under new defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.

Really, Why Are The Wisconsin Badgers Ranked Here?

Schedule doesn’t matter in these rankings, but the results could be even better with the lighter slate. Replace LSU with Utah State, and replace Ohio State and Michigan State – remember, Michigan State was still supposed to be okay early last year – with Maryland and Indiana, and the Badger team with another loaded defense and another you-know-what-you’re-getting offense should be on the way to yet another West title.