The 2019 season continues to inch ever closer to the start and that means it’s time for us to dig in to the opposition.
Yes, our famed Opposition Research feature is back for another year. We’ll aim to dig deeper than the surface and give you the need-to-know information on each Badgers opponent.
After two weeks of action, the Badgers will take an early break and then hit the ground running to start Big Ten play.
Nothing says hitting the ground running like facing a potential East division champion in Michigan. So, what do we know and what do we make of the Wolverines in 2019?
Let’s get to the info.
Biggest Offseason Question Mark: Can Michigan Climb the OSU-size Mountain?
Coaching staff changes are going to happen when you have the names and talent and production that Michigan has had. So, another offseason of changes happened in 2019 and at most places that would take up the biggest bulk of the questions in an offseason.
But, this is Michigan we’re talking about and their rival is Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh has not been able to conquer the Buckeyes and thus the Big Ten to date. That’s what he was brought to Ann Arbor to do — beat Ohio State and win Big Ten championships.
Every year that that doesn’t happen just makes the pressure from the outside that much greater. With a big coaching change in Columbus, could this be the year? Could this finally break a seven-year losing streak?
Until that answer is yes, this will always be the ultimate offseason question for Michigan.
As for the Badgers, that fixation on Ohio State could be a small advantage in their matchup in September. If the Wolverines don’t take it one week at a time like every coach today preaches, the Badgers may have a mental advantage.
Will it matter come game time? Who knows, but the fact that the outside pressure continues to grow on Michigan is not something to ignore.
Biggest Strength: Passing Game
There’s no question that Michigan’s biggest strength in 2019 is the passing game. It’s ironic, because in most of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in Ann Arbor, that’s been the biggest question mark.
But, with a veteran quarterback in Shea Patterson and some really good wide receivers — led by Donovan People-Jones and Nico Collins — this passing game is very dangerous.
Last year, the Wolverines finished second in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Now it will be up to former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis to take on the offense, with former Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain back to a head coaching gig at Central Michigan.
Gattis has a reputation as a great teacher of the wide receiver position despite his young age. With the talent that is already in place and incoming, this group could be really dangerous in 2019.
I haven’t even mentioned a tight end position that is very athletic and could be used in a variety of ways this season as well. Point being, this passing game is loaded.
Biggest Weakness: Defensive Line Depth
Michigan loses two of its best defensive players up front from a season ago in Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich. Replacing them won’t be easy, but there was depth last season to this group too.
Now, that depth is going to become starters and that means everyone else has to step their game up a notch or two. Sophomore Donovan Jeter will get first look on the inside, and junior Kwity Payne and sophomore Aidan Hutchinson will likely be the first men up on the outside.
All three showed talent, but played limited snaps last year because this group was so deep. It simply isn’t as deep or experienced and that will be very interesting to watch this season.
This is Michigan on the recruiting trail though and they’ve got two really intriguing names on the defensive line in Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith. How ready are they to contribute in a major way out of the gate?
The answer to that question may go a long way in letting us all know just how deep this group is going to be. What we do know is that Don Brown has a knack for getting the most out of his players regardless of experience.
Reason to be Scared: 15
Wisconsin and Michigan have split each of the last three meetings, with the home team winning each of those games. But, as the Badgers prepare to host the Wolverines at Camp Randall this year, we still need to know our history.
The Badgers have won exactly 15 games against Michigan in the entire history of this series. It equates to a horrifically bad .231 win percentage for the Cardinal and White.
Recent history has been on the Badgers side, going 5-4 over the last nine matchups, but this Michigan team feels like it’s back to its national prominence once again.
Last season, the Badgers suffered a 25-point butt kicking in Ann Arbor and unless the UW offense is up to the task this time around it’s hard to see that win total increase to 16.
Wisconsin is going to have to learn to gel quickly on defense and get a passing game going in the first two matchups or it’ll be a nasty afternoon in Madison.
Cephus says he wants to return to Badgers football
Earlier on Monday we got word from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the status of Quintez Cephus, the student. He was to have his expulsion reversed after the evidence from his acquittal was brought forth to the university.
The only question left was if he would want to return to the university and the Wisconsin Badgers football team.
During a press conference on Monday afternoon, the speculation was put to an end. Quintez Cephus wants to return to the university and the football team.
During his press conference, Cephus mentioned how he wanted to stay at Wisconsin largely because of the support he got from his teammates and the entire staff of the UW football program.
He also mentioned that he had yet to speak with head coach Paul Chryst face-to-face after this decision was announced, but he would be doing so later in the day on Monday.
Many will also wonder if he’s ready physically and mentally to get back on the football field this season. Well, Cephus has been working out in Arizona for three months straight in anticipation of coming back on the field.
Judging by the video he’s put out, he’s certainly in some good physical condition.
Of course, only time will tell how quickly any and all of this will happen for Cephus and the Badgers. But, Cephus is very clearly focused on not wasting this opportunity and doing things at a very high level.
There are likely a few NCAA hurdles to officially jump through, but I’m also guessing the paperwork was just waiting to be put in motion once the university reinstated him and he gave the go-ahead.
Either way, he will be a welcome sight for an already strong group of wide receivers.
UW reinstates Quintez Cephus
A week after Quintez Cephus, his teammates and his attorneys went in front of the cameras to implore the University of Wisconsin-Madison to allow Cephus back in to school, we now have word on his status.
On Monday morning, it was revealed that Cephus was reinstated to the university. UW sent out the following tweet regarding the matter:
In the statement announcing their decision, the university noted that they had received information that wasn’t available during their initial Title IX investigation.
“UW–Madison obtained information following the criminal proceeding that was not provided to the university during the student conduct process, ” said the statement. “Chancellor Rebecca Blank conducted a review of this information and the petition for Quintez Cephus’ reinstatement as quickly as possible and in a complete and impartial manner.
“As a result of this review, sanctions for Quintez Cephus have been reduced and his expulsion lifted. There were findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.”
Chancellor Rebecca Blank had the following to say about the situation.
“All three of the primary participants in this case are our students, and I know the past year has been painful for everyone involved,” said Blank. “My decision is based on the availability of substantial new information that wasn’t made available to us during the earlier process. I recognize that some will disagree with this decision.”
“To those in our community who have experienced sexual assault, I sincerely hope that there is nothing in this case that will deter you from coming forward for support,” she added. “Our university continues to be prepared to listen and respond.”
Cephus had his expulsion lifted, but did not have all sanctions removed from his record. According to the statement, the findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.
With this reinstatement, Cephus has a decision in front of him. He is free to return to the university and the football team has made it clear they will welcome him back with open arms.
But, does he want to return to UW at all? All indications are that he does want to come back to school, but getting his expulsion lifted would allow him to move on from the university if he so chose.
We will have to wait for more information from the program once everyone has had a chance to make their decisions known.
Joe Thomas makes CBS Sports All-time All-American list
College football celebrates is 150th season in 2019 and that necessitates a look back at the history of the sport. That’s exactly what CBS Sports decided to do and they came up with a long list of the best players in college football history.
Given the fact that the Wisconsin Badgers went through long stretches of horrific play and few years of good work prior to 1990, seeing a Badgers name on the list was a long shot.
But, one Badger did make the list and that was famed left tackle Joe Thomas.
He was named to the honorable mention All-Time All-American offensive line category. Center was broken out in to a different group all together as well.
While at Wisconsin, Thomas became the first Badger to win the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s best interior lineman. He also was named to the 2006 first team All-American list and started 39 games in his four years in Madison.
He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after an 11-year career in which he made the Pro Bowl in 10 straight seasons.
Joining him on CBS Sports honorable mention offensive lineman list were Maurkice Pouncey (Florida), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), John Hicks (Ohio State), Aaron Taylor (Nebraska) and Jake Long (Michigan).
Making the first team list were Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), John Hannah (Alabama) and Ron Yary (USC).
On the second team were Anthony Munoz (USC), Bryant McKinnie (Miami), Will Shields (Nebraska) and Tony Boselli (USC).
Those are all some amazing names and gives us all a great reminder of just how great college football has been over the years to be sure.
Thomas is the only Badgers player to make the list, yes including all-time greats like Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche, let alone perhaps the most famous player of the formative years of college football — Pat O’Dea.
Yes, he doesn’t fit neatly in to the mold of a modern college football player, but this was supposed to be a list of the best players to ever grace the field in the history of the game.
It’s very hard to argue that O’Dea wasn’t exactly that in his era. He was a two time All-American in 1898 and 1899 as a punter and a fullback.
If CBS Sports was serious about honoring the entirety of college football, having O’Dea on the list would be a good place to start.
Badgers unveil throwback unis for Northwestern game
College football is celebrating its 150th year in 2019 and the Wisconsin Badgers have been playing the game since the 1889 season.
In order to honor some of the history of the game and the program, the Badgers will put on throwback (and I use that term loosely) uniforms according to a video released by the football program on Tuesday afternoon.
It appears that UW is looking back to the days where a simple UW adorned the front of the sweaters, as they were called at the time, in that 1889 season.
Today, regulations say that all teams must include numbers on the front and back of the jersey and thus the conundrum the Badgers find themselves in here.
Interestingly, the helmets will feature a first-time logo with the ‘UW’ having never appeared together in any helmet in Badgers history. Given the fact that back in 1889 there was no such thing as a helmet in the game of football it was an interesting call.
The helmets will also feature just a thin Cardinal stripe down the center and gray face masks.
Personally, I have to say I’m not a fan of cramming the ‘UW’ on to the front of the jersey and it would’ve been interesting to see them go back to the Bucky Badger helmet or something else.
It just looks too congested on the front of the jersey, but I do like the idea of the black shoes, khaki colored pants and the red jersey overall. It does harken back to that era in as much as is possible in today’s modern game.
However, the players were certainly excited for a different-than-normal look to the Badgers uniforms.
The logo on the side of the khaki colored pants is also the one that the athletic department used from 1962 to 1965 according to research.
Wisconsin will take on Northwestern in the Sept. 28 game that will feature these jerseys inside Camp Randall. Northwestern will also have a similar look as part of what Under Armour is calling its Second Heritage line.
What do you think of this ‘throwback’ look? Hit up the comments below or follow on Twitter @talkingBadgers.
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