It’s beginning already — the chorus of national pundits slamming the Wisconsin Badgers as not worthy of a College Football Playoff spot.
According to Badger247, former Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver, Joey Galloway, has already gone on record to stat that the Badgers do not belong in the College Football Playoff — even if that team is undefeated.
Here is what Galloway had to say:
“Let’s just say that Wisconsin does actually win the Big Ten and they knock off an undefeated Penn State team or a one-loss Ohio State team, that would be one really good win,” he said. “But I do not believe that would be enough to get them ahead of some of these other conference champions who might have one loss — even if they’re undefeated.”
Knocking off an undefeated Penn State and going undefeated isn’t enough? What if the Nittany Lions are No. 2 in the country and the Badgers are on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff? How exactly would that work there Joey?
But, Galloway isn’t the only one already asking the question. The Washington Post wants us to all know that the Badgers schedule sucks and no one knows what to make the team.
To be fair, few on the ESPN panel were on board with Galloway, including his fellow former Buckeye, Kirk Herbstreit.
“They win that game, they’re 13-0, they’re in,” Herbstreit said. “Regardless of what happened, they’re going to go to the playoff. We can sit here and talk for the next five weeks on how they don’t deserve it, but the fact of the matter is they’ll be in.”
Herbstreit seems to be pointing to the fact that the Big Ten is perhaps college football’s best overall conference in 2017 and winning that conference as an undefeated champion matters.
We’re guessing that Galloway (and it’s not a stretch) is taking a shot at Wisconsin’s schedule here. There is some truth to it, as UW’s opponents to date haven’t exactly lit the world on fire. But, UW’s schedule was pretty much always back loaded outside of Nebraska and BYU on the road early on.
Is it Wisconsin’s fault that BYU has had major quarterback issues and aren’t winning without Taysom Hill? No.
Rather, the Badgers did what quality teams do — went on the road and kicked the living crap out of a bad team.
Nebraska was supposed to be a quality team. Is it Wisconsin’s fault they went in to Memorial Stadium and stopped a 20-game win streak in night games? Nope…in fact, that is exactly what really good teams do.
Northwestern? Well, that win looks better by the weekend if you want to use the logic being applied by Galloway and others. After losing to both the Badgers and Penn State, the Wildcats are on a two-game win streak and face Michigan State this weekend. Win that game and there’s your nice-looking win on the schedule.
Maryland? A win on the road at Texas to start the season gave the Terps plenty of juice. Then a second quarterback went down to an ACL tear and everything has gone downhill with a third string quarterback who isn’t built for the offense. Again, is that Wisconsin’s fault? Nope.
UW took advantage of the situation at hand, opened the game up with a pick-six and raced to a 38-13 victory. Again, that’s what good teams do…take advantage of opportunities in front of them, however they come to you and against whomever is in front of you.
Let’s move the future on UW’s schedule too.
Iowa is doing it’s usual Kirk Ferentz bottoming out two years after a Big Ten title game appearance, not exactly Wisconsin’s fault. Losing three Big Ten games already is classic Ferentz.
But, a win against them and UW could well move to 10-0 on the season. What a shame it would be for the Badgers to go to double-digit wins for the third straight season under Paul Chryst I tell you.
That sets up the game everyone circled on UW’s schedule — Michigan.
Is it Wisconsin’s fault that Michigan’s offense is as good as your local high school? No.
Yet, that potential win looking worse by the day somehow is the Badgers fault and not Michigan’s for not holding up its end of the national punditry bargain. Everyone pointed to that game in Camp Randall as the end-all-be-all of the 2017 season for the Badgers. Win that one and they are off to the Big Ten title game and an easy resume for the College Football Playoff.
As the story goes, it takes two to tango, and Michigan already has two losses on the books and could well have a third by the time it comes to Camp Randall. Sure, the game that was to be isn’t to be anymore. But, does that devalue the win? Not really, especially if Wisconsin does to Michigan what it has done to teams all season long.
Of course, for the likes of Galloway and others, that win would come at home…so how good could the win really be?
Good teams look really good against bad opponents. Wisconsin has accomplished that in spades this season, upending opponents by a combined 256-93 so far.
There’s little denying that the Badgers schedule is light on big time opponents, and I’m not going to argue that point. But, what are the Badgers supposed to do about the Big Ten handing them a few cupcakes from the East division and a West division full of transitioning teams?
We’ll see who is right when the final College Football Playoff rankings come out. For now, the Badgers and the fan base need to just be focused on going out and winning like they have all season — pounding teams in to submission on offense and pounding the opposition offense in to dust.
The good news is that is exactly how head coach Paul Chryst and Co. are attacking what is potentially in front of them.
“I’ve always thought this: The schedule is guaranteed for the team. The helmets will play,” said Chryst earlier this week. “Just enjoy the journey, and the moment that is this week, and at the end of the season you earn the right to do something. We’ve earned the right to be in a bowl game? What bowl game is it? Doesn’t matter.”
In typical Chryst fashion, few on this team are going to care what the outside world has to say, but it’s hard to deny Wisconsin isn’t a true contender on paper. Winning by big margins, playing dominating defense and showcasing one of college football’s best running backs won’t hurt UW’s chances with the people that matter most.
We’ll see who is right — Wisconsin’s play on the field or the pundits off of it — after this Saturday’s contests, as the first College Football Playoff rankings are set to come out on Tuesday, October 31.
Best, worst case scenarios for Badgers quarterbacks in 2019
Believe it or not, the start of the Wisconsin Badgers fall camp is right around the corner and we’re hitting the home stretch of our preview season as well.
No position has had more of the spotlight and taken up more of our conversation than what is happening at quarterback. After watching the QB play go from ok to disaster in 2018, it is back to the drawing board in many ways.
With Alex Hornibrook off to Florida State for his final season and the highest rated quarterback recruit in Badgers history on campus, this offseason has been full of intrigue.
But, what will the 2019 season look like for the most critical position on this offense? Let’s take a look at exactly that.
Best Case Scenario
The Badgers find out they hit the jackpot with Graham Mertz and he’s spent the time between spring and fall ball getting up to speed on the offense. Mertz immediately shows this is his job and the coaching staff sees it quickly as well.
Either that or Jack Coan comes in and commands the position and the offense with accuracy and an ability to hit the deep ball. The offense gels around him and heading in to the opener at South Florida, Coan is the man behind center by a wide margin.
Yes, there are two best-case scenarios at play. But, that’s because Wisconsin’s coaching staff would really love for someone to flat-out win the starting job early on in fall camp. Will that happen? That’s the million dollar question and don’t count out Chase Wolf from this competition either. He came on strong as spring went along and his abilities give the Badgers offense some different wrinkles that could be intriguing.
No matter whom wins the battle in fall camp, the best case scenario is that that person wins the battle early, the offense can focus on installing around that quarterback and said quarterback shows why he won the job with quality play during the season.
Worst Case Scenario
If we go in to week three of fall camp and there is no winner to the quarterback job, I’m not so confident in this group. Yes, it’s the job of everyone to compete at a high level, but the coaching staff not being able to separate between the bunch isn’t good news.
My worst-case scenario would be no winner coming out of fall camp, we see quarterbacks splitting time in the fall and this offense stalling out in the pass game once again.
Musical chairs at quarterback never seems to work at Wisconsin and that especially played out last season with Coan clearly thrown to the wolves before he was ready to make a full impact after Hornibrook’s injury.
As long as the Badgers can avoid having to play multiple quarterbacks because none of them have wrestled the position for themselves, UW’s offense should be in a better position in 2019 than it was in 2018.
Most Likely to Happen
As much as the fans want to see Graham Mertz come in and be this game-changing quarterback out of the gate, the most likely scenario is that Mertz gets some game action in the non-conference games and Jack Coan is your regular starter.
I can foresee the scenario playing out much like Coan’s true freshman season. The only difference being that Mertz won’t have to give up his redshirt to play in a single game.
It seems like the most likely to happen scenario is that Coan is your starter for the year with Mertz as the man getting the early season reps behind him and then Chase Wolf being the other option to get reps during conference play.
Let’s not forget that Coan is the only quarterback on this roster that has seen more than a complete mop-up duty. Danny Vanden Boom could be an option too, but it seems like Wolf and Mertz passed him up in the spring competition.
As much as Mertz is the future, coaches are paid to win games now and that likely means playing it safe with Coan.
Best, worst case scenarios for Badgers ILB’s in 2019
We hope you enjoyed the Independence Day holiday, but it is time to get back to some business and that means continuing our series looking in to every position group for the 2019 Wisconsin Badgers.
Since we went outside the last time around, today we will focus on a position that has long been a strength of the Badgers program — inside linebacker.
What could happen with this group in 2019? Let’s find out.
Best Case Scenario
Yes, the Badgers face life without an All-American and a steady veteran thanks to the graduations of T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly. But, the good news is that this group was one of the deepest and most productive overall last season.
Veteran Chris Orr will get one starting spot and former 4-star recruit Jack Sanborn will step in to the other starting role. So, the best case scenario for this group is that Orr, who started as a freshman, gets back to that kind of form, and we see quality play from a combination of younger players like Sanborn and freshman Leo Chenal.
No one had a bigger breakout this spring than Chenal did. He came in as an early enrollee, but well under the radar. By the end of spring ball, it looked very much like he won’t be redshirting and will be challenging for a lot of snaps in the fall.
It would be great to see that happen, because Orr has just one year left in the Cardinal and White.
Worst Case Scenario
What would really hurt this group is if Orr or Sanborn were to go down with an injury here. Yes, Chenal looked good in spring ball like I mentioned before and yes Mike Maskalunas has shown flashes of ability, but are they really ready to be thrust in to the majority of snaps at inside linebacker together?
Experience is an issue for this group and I could see an injury exposing that lack of experience in a big way. Even if the Badgers wanted to go with an older player, the only other option would be Seth Currens and he just converted from safety in the spring himself.
Other than that it would be Hunter Johnson or two walk-ons that were here in the spring.
The Badgers only inside linebacker recruit in the 2019 class was Chenal too, so there will be no more help coming in to fall camp.
Most Likely to Happen
The good news is that I don’t see the worst case scenario actually happening, at least not in a major way. Orr’s medical history suggests he could be prone to missing a game or two with a nagging injury, but don’t expect anything crazy to happen.
I also believe we will see the emergence of Sanborn and Chenal as the future of this position for the Badgers. In fact, Sanborn has looked so good in spring and in his limited playing time last season, that I suspect he could be a darkhorse for All-Big Ten honors at season’s end.
Look for this group to be a downhill, hard-hitting and more athletic group than we saw last season and that could make a major difference for those playing behind them.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and his staff have a lot to figure out, but they should feel safe with the talent that is available to them at inside linebacker.
Best, worst case scenarios for Badgers OLB’s in 2019
This time next month, the pads may be popping and the 2019 Wisconsin Badgers fall practices will be under way. It’s so close we all can almost taste it.
But, as we look forward to the 2019 season we’re going to try something a bit different. Gone are the usual ways of looking position groups and giving you a fall preview that last’s a week.
Well, that’s because this season is vital to the Paul Chryst era. There’s a changing of the guard going on. After a disappointing 2018 season that saw UW drop Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the first time in 15 years and not win the Big Ten West, the question is if that’s a sign of decline or a blip on the radar.
In order to best answer that question, we’re actually going to start with a look at what needs to happen, what the Badgers need to avoid and what is really likely at every position.
Up today is a look at the outside linebacker position.
Best Case Scenario:
Last year, the outside linebackers contributed just 8 total sacks to a team total of 19. That’s a lot of contribution to the effort, but the effort was far below expectations set by previous groups. Additionally, the graduation of Andrew Van Ginkel means just 2.5 sacks return from the outside linebacker position in 2019.
Those sacks belong to Zack Baun, who got his feet wet as a starter last season and is looking for big things to happen in 2019. The good news is that Baun was one of Wisconsin’s best run-stoppers on the edge.
Ideally, Baun not only is a leader of this defensive group in 2019, but becomes much more disruptive behind the line of scrimmage too.
Wisconsin has a lot of potential that could start opposite of him. Former Alabama transfer Christian Bell, former 4-star recruit Noah Burks and former inside linebacker Griffin Grady all had their moments of shine in spring ball.
In a best case scenario, the Badgers have more than one of that group step up as contributors to an overall group of outside linebackers that don’t have a lot of in-game experience or depth.
Getting this group to contribute double-digit sacks as a whole would be a great step forward.
Worst Case Scenario:
Noah Burks or Christian Bell don’t live up to their enormous potential. It’s as plain and simple as that.
Wisconsin needs them to become pass-rushing specialists in a big way if this defense is going to be as aggressive as it is designed to be. Often times last season, the inability of the front seven to get pressure really hung an inexperienced secondary out to dry.
If UW experiences more of that, it could really be trouble in 2019. The Badgers need this defense to step up its game, and having both of the expected top contenders in replacing Van Ginkel flame out would be a disaster all the way around.
Most Likely to Happen:
Given all the unknowns surrounding the outside linebacker position, this is a difficult position to predict. However, I will say this — Zack Baun will end up as an All-Big Ten performer.
I believe he just scratched the surface of his potential last year, especially since he was just coming off an awful injury history prior to it. If he stays healthy in 2019, I predict he becomes a surprise player to many outside observers in the Big Ten.
That said, I also believe we will see Christian Bell and Noah Burks become a handful for opposing offensive coordinators to deal with. Both have been patient with the talent that was in front of them, but they are bursting with potential when they have seen the field.
So, to answer the question most want to know…I believe this all signals a position group ready to be a major force once again after that down year in 2018.
Best, Worst case scenarios for Badgers Wide Receivers in 2019
The heat of summer is upon us and the recruiting trail has been even hotter for the Wisconsin Badgers. However, that heat also indicates that the long offseason nightmare is about to be over.
With that in mind, we’re taking a summer-long look at each position group heading in to the 2019 season.
Today, we flip back to the offensive side of the ball and look at a second skill position — wide receiver.
After what was supposed to be a breakout year for the group in 2018, what will this group have in store for 2019? Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios at play.
Best Case Scenario
If the Badgers want to get going in the pass game, the wide receiver group needs to step up the deep game in a big way. While A.J. Taylor, Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor have proven to be reliable assets, 2018 felt much like they all barely scratched the surface of their potential.
The trio combined for 95 receptions (which was 53 percent of all receptions as a team), 1,212 yards and 11 of 19 touchdown receptions on the year.
For this season, the best case scenario actually involves the quarterback position almost more-so than anything this group can do. The receivers could benefit from a consistently good passer at quarterback and a more open playbook as well.
Whether it is Jack Coan or wonderkid recruit, Graham Mertz, the consistency and trust to open up the playbook needs to be there.
Additionally, an increased role for speedster Aaron Cruickshank would be the best case scenario.
Worst Case Scenario
Danny Davis emerged as the most targeted receiver last season, catching 40 passes to lead all wide receivers on the team. He will enter his junior season with an increase in expectations and no off-field distractions like he had to deal with last season thanks to his stupid decision-making.
That aside, Davis is the most well-rounded receiver in this group and the one that could wind up be the deep threat that has been missing for awhile now. So, any injury to Davis would be bad news.
In fact, any sustained injuries to the likes of Davis, Pryor and Taylor would not be good. UW is very inexperienced behind this trio, and inexperience at QB and WR may not be a fun combination.
Dare I say, it would lead to UW not being back on top of the West division mountain?
Most Likely to Happen
I fully believe that the coaching staff will go in to the season knowing which quarterback they’ll go with and stick with. Confidence is key to helping this wide receiver group and I expect the Badgers offense to be much more balanced in 2019 than it was over the past two seasons.
Look for Davis, Pryor and Taylor to all increase their overall numbers and likely go over the 15 touchdown mark as a group. More importantly, I expect much more play-action and much more from the deep passing game too. That should be music to a talented, but under used group’s ears.
Don’t be surprised to see one of the Badgers wide receivers make a run at All-Big Ten honors as a result of that shift back to balance.
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