B1G Standing: 6th overall, 3rd in Leaders Division, winner of the Big Ten Championship Game
Offensive Stat Leaders: Passing: Joel Stave: 1104 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs... Rushing:Montee Ball: 356 att., 1830 yards, 22 TDs... Receiving: Jared Abbrederis: 49 recs., 837 yards, 5 TDs
Defensive Stat Leaders:Tackles: Mike Taylor (123).... Sacks: Tyler Dippel and Brendan Kelly (5).... Interceptions: Devin Smith (4)
Wisconsin had one of the most bizarre seasons in the history of the Big Ten. Depending on your perspective, it can be described anywhere from massive disappointment, to smashingly successful, to downright bewildering. Wisconsin eked out a win against FCS Northern Iowa, and were nearly shut out in a 10-7 loss at Oregon State. The Badgers nearly lost again in week three, but Utah State missed a chip shot field goal in the waning seconds to hand them a 16-14 victory.
Despite the close calls, Wisconsin was 3-1 with a chance to turn things around with a fresh start in Big Ten play. The vaunted offense that went missing during non-conference play suddenly emerged against Nebraska, only to disappear again as the Badgers watched their lead wither in a 30-27 loss to the Cornhuskers.
Inconsistent play plagued the Badgers throughout the remainder of the season, oftentimes looking like two completely different teams from one half to the next. Wisconsin took care of business with wins against Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue and Indiana, but suffered close losses to Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. The Badgers were in position to win all three of those games, but could not make plays when needed.
Despite finishing third in their division and sixth overall in conference play, Wisconsin was able to make its second consecutive Big Ten Championship appearance thanks to postseason bans for Ohio State and Penn State. Wisconsin's offense finally came alive, as they got revenge on Nebraska with an eye-popping 70-31 victory to clinch a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Then something occurred that no one could have seen coming - Bret Bielema suddenly resigned to accept the Arkansas job, a move that will likely cause grief for the Razorbacks fanbase, but great hilarity for the rest of the nation. Barry Alvarez stepped in to guide the Badgers in the Rose Bowl. Despite a valiant effort, Stanford was just too tough in the trenches and handed the Badgers a 20-14 loss.
Wisconsin's recruiting class was nothing to write home about, thanks to a limited number of available scholarships in this class and the unexpected coaching transition. However, Badgers fans should not fret. Wisconsin has made a habit of taking unheralded players and creating All-Big Ten players out of them by the time they are ready to graduate.
Four-star running back Corey Clement could push for playing time early, and should thrive in the Badgers system once he sees meaningful playing time. An interesting note about this class is that Wisconsin successfully plucked players from across the nation. The Badgers were able to go out-of-state to land numerous prospects from California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio.
Way too early prediction: 8-4 (5-3 Big Ten)
Wisconsin may be one of the toughest teams to project for 2013. The Badgers will be one of the more experienced teams in the Big ten, but there are always plenty of unknowns after a major overhaul to the coaching staff. What's known is that Gary Anderson is a damn good coach. Many snickered when Wisconsin didn't land a big name after Bielema's departure, but those people likely weren't familiar with Anderson's work at Utah State. As mentioned above, the Aggies outplayed the Badgers in week three, and may have been the most underrated team in the nation. It may not happen next season, but Anderson will have the Badgers back atop the Big Ten soon enough.
My prediction of 8-4 is on the conservative end, as I could see the Badgers going anywhere from 7-5 to 10-2.
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