The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Wisconsin Badgers.
No. 4: Wisconsin Badgers
Spring Practice Starts: March 13
Spring Game: April 13
Wisconsin Badgers Spring Status
The Badgers have been knocking on the door for several years, but they can’t quite kick it in.
Wisconsin has been the best program to not get into the College Football Playoff over the last four years, but before thinking about the playoff and the national title, it would be nice to just win the Big Ten Championship again.
As good as the team has been, it lost its last three attempts at the conference crown, with the last title win back in 2012 – the 70-31 win over Nebraska – back in the Bret Bielema days.
Even after coming a late scoring drive against Ohio State away from going into the CFP, this year’s team could be even better – especially on offense.
The defense loses a few key parts up front, and the secondary has to undergo an overhaul, but few programs plug and play better on that side of the ball. It’s the other side that’s going to be amazing, with everyone back up front, the stars returning in the backfield, and an improved receiving corps.
Wisconsin Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Cornerback. The secondary is the one big concern, with safety D’Cota Dixon the lone returning starter. Derrick Tindal and broken up pass machine Nick Nelson are gone from the outside, and now it’ll be an open casting call for the two empty spots. There are plenty of talented options, but they’re young and green.
Wisconsin Biggest Issue
Interceptions. When Alex Hornibrook was on last season, he was as sharp and as accurate as any quarterback in college football – he was throwing darts for a long stretch against Miami in the Orange Bowl win. However, against Michigan and Ohio State, he completed 47.5% of his passes, and gave up three picks against Iowa. On the year he threw 15 interceptions for a team that lives on not screwing up.
Wisconsin Biggest Positive
The offensive line. If it’s not the best in the country, it’s going to be in the top three with all five starters returning to pave the way for Jonathan Taylor. There’s decent depth, next-level talent, and a whole lot of high expectations for the Badger rushing machine to be even better.
Really, Why Are The Wisconsin Badgers Ranked Here?
The schedule is tougher this season, and it’s not going to be a walk-in-the-park again to make the run to the Big Ten Championship a cakewalk, but the defense will be terrific again – even if it’s not as good as it was last season – and the offense will be a machine.
There are a few issues, though. Again, the secondary needs working on, it will hurt to lose Conor Sheehy, Alec James and Leon Jacobs off the defensive front seven, and not having TE Troy Fumagalli around anymore will matter. Even so, if you liked last year, expect more of the same.