College Football Futures: Wisconsin Badgers in Line for Another Big Season

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:15 PM GMT

Thursday, Jul. 23, 2015 6:15 PM GMT

Our very own college football professional analyst provides us with a 2015 preview on the Wisconsin Badgers. Join us in reading this revealing article which culminates with his pick pertaining to their current posted win total.

2015 Wisconsin Badgers Preview
Wisconsin is coming off a stellar 11-3 season that culminated with a 34-31 overtime win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl. This is a Badgers football program which has gone an outstanding 50-18 over the last five seasons.

They will enter the 2015 season with a new head coach. Former Pittsburgh Panther head man Paul Chryst takes over for a departed Gary Anderson in Madison, and quite frankly was a bit of a questionable hire. Chryst has gone just 19-20 in his three years as head coach of the Panthers. Anderson had a 19-7 record in his two seasons at Wisconsin, and opted out of his contract to take the head coaching job at Oregon State.

 

Returning Starters and Key Personnel Loss
The Badgers return five offensive starters and six on the defensive side of the ball. The most notable loss from last season’s team will be former star running back Melvin Gordon. During the 2014-2015 college football campaign, Gordon ran for an incredible 2587 yards, averaged 7.5 yards per carry, and amassed 29 rushing touchdowns. He also had 19 pass receptions for another 153 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Badgers will also have to replace three offensive line starters who helped pave the way for an average of 320 yards rushing per game a season ago. However, Wisconsin is always deep at that position, and they annually reload as opposed to rebuilding the offensive line.

Senior Joel Stave returns as the projected starting quarterback. Opposing defensive coordinators don’t endure sleepless nights preparing to face Stave. Although he’s 21-7 in 28 career starts, he’s been more a beneficiary of a potent Badgers running game than his own passing prowess. Take last season for example, he was 8-1 as a starter, completed just 53.1% of his pass attempts for only 1350 yards, and had a poor 9:10 touchdown to interception ratio.

The Badgers did lose Melvin Gordon, but they possessed arguably the best backup running back in the country a season ago. Corey Clement flies in under the radar for this upcoming 2015 campaign. Last season he rushed for 949 yards, averaged 6.5 yards per carry, and ran for 9 touchdowns. He also had 14 pass receptions for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns. In addition, Wisconsin returns their leading wide receiver in senior Alex Erickson who had 55 catches for 772 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.

The defense for Wisconsin was a big question mark heading into the 2014 season. After all they were returning just 3 starters. However, for the most part that stop unit played outstanding, allowing an average of only 20.8 points per game. The notable exception came at the most inopportune time, and resulted in their scoring defense numbers going askew. It came during a 59-0 blowout loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. I look for this unit to be vastly improved compared to a season ago.

 

The Schedule

09/05/15

vs. Alabama (Arlington, Texas)

09/12/15

vs. Miami (Ohio)

09/19/15

vs. Troy

09/26/15

vs. Hawaii

10/03/15

vs. Iowa

10/10/15

at Nebraska

10/17/15

vs. Purdue

10/24/15

at Illinois

10/31/15

vs. Rutgers

11/07/15

at Maryland

11/21/15

vs. Northwestern

11/28/15

at Minnesota

 

Wisconsin opens up against perennial national powerhouse Alabama. It will be played at a neutral site (Arlington), and according to the current college football betting odds at 5Dimes, they’re a 10.5 point underdog for that contest. There’s a distinct possibility it may be the last time Wisconsin will be an underdog during the remainder of their regular season slate.

Another important note regarding the schedule is that they won’t face either Michigan State or defending national champion Ohio State during regular season action. That’s huge considering both teams are projected to not only be among the top teams in the Big Ten, each are considered legitimate national championship contenders. The Spartans and Buckeyes went a combined 25-3 last year.

Besides Alabama, Wisconsin faces Miami (Ohio), Troy, and Hawaii in the non-conference portion of their schedule. Those three opponents combined to go a dismal 9-28 last season, and that includes a horrific 2-16 on the road. By the way, Wisconsin has won 32 consecutive non-conference home games.

The conference home slate couldn’t be any more favorable. The Badgers will host Iowa, Purdue, Rutgers, and Northwestern. Those four opponents combined to go 11-21 in Big Ten action last season.

The conference road slate is far from an overwhelming task but a bit more difficult. They travel to Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. Those opponents had a cumulative 18-14 Big Ten record in 2014. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wisconsin win all four of those contests, or three at the very least.

 

Final Analysis
According to the good folks over at 5Dimes, they have Wisconsin’s regular season win total posted at 9.5. Going over 9.5 wins comes at money line odds of -135, and a wager on under that number comes with a price tag of -105. I like the Badgers chances to exceed that number for one of my college football picks.

College Football Pick: Wisconsin over 9.5 (-135) regular season wins at 5Dimes.

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