The Wisconsin Badgers are coming off their second consecutive Big Ten title and trip to the Rose Bowl, and are set to dominate the Big Ten again in 2012.
Heisman finalist Montee Ball returns to headline the rushing attack, and transfer Danny O'Brien heads to Madison to lead the offense. Meanwhile, Mike Taylor and Chris Borland will lead an experienced defensive unit.
With an easy 2012 schedule, expect to see the Badgers in Pasadena once again.
The Wisconsin Badgers' schedule for 2012 is fairly easy. It begins with four cupcake non-conference games that will allow the team plenty of time to work out the kinks before Big Ten conference play starts.
The conference schedule is also pretty easy, with Michigan State and Ohio State traveling to Camp Randall. The only truly difficult game on the Badgers' schedule is a road game against Nebraska, even though the Badgers won last year's game 48-17.
Games against Illinois, at Purdue, Minnesota, at Indiana and at Penn State shouldn't pose a problem. With such a favorable schedule, there is no reason why the Badgers can't reach the Big Ten Championship game again this year.
Wisconsin easily has the best running back tandem in the nation.
Ball's backup, James White, is no slouch either. While he had a bit of a down season in 2011, finishing with 713 yards and six touchdowns, he is still the same back who finished with 1,052 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman.
The Badgers should have no trouble rolling over teams in 2012, as Michigan State is the only team on the Badgers' schedule who finished inside the Top 20 against the run last year.
Expect Montee Ball and James White to continue to run the ball down opponents' throats.
The quarterback position was supposed to be a question mark for the Badgers in 2012. Jon Budmayr has had injury problems, and Joel Stave and Joe Brennan are woefully inexperienced.
However, the transfer of Danny O'Brien changes all of that.
O'Brien did have a tumultuous season in 2011, with a coaching change and a change to a spread offensive system that was a poor fit and ultimately led to him getting benched.
Nevertheless, O'Brien has proven that he can play at an extremely high level, throwing for 2,438 and 22 touchdowns in 2010, winning the A.C.C. Freshman of the Year.
O'Brien is an experienced quarterback who greatly improves the Badgers' outlook for 2012.
All-Big Ten linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor return as the heart and soul of the Badgers' defense. Both are coming off dominant seasons, with each registering over 130 tackles, including 22 against Ohio State for Taylor, and 18 against Illinois for Borland.
As smart, experienced players, they know their roles in the defense, providing stability and helping to limit big plays. Both are tough, gritty players whom the rest of the defense can key off of.
Their presence should help Wisconsin's defense finish as one of the best in the Big Ten.
The Badgers have plenty of quality depth throughout the roster, allowing the team to fill the holes left by graduation and early entries to the NFL draft.
Offensive linemen Ryan Groy, Rob Havenstein and Casey Dehn all have previous experience, with Groy leading the way with four starts in 2011.
The same is true on the defensive line, with Jordan Kohout, Brendan Kelly and Pat Muldoon earning playing time in 2011. The new projected starters for the secondary also earned significant playing time, with both Dezmen Southward and Peniel Jean playing in all 14 games.
Almost all of the new starters for 2012 earned playing time and gained experienced in 2011, allowing them to assimilate to the college game, and ultimately allow the Wisconsin Badgers to continue to dominate the Big Ten.
The Wisconsin Badgers are going to continue to dominate the Big Ten in 2012. With their schedule, the Badgers should finish with at least 10 wins and a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
This team has too much experience and too few holes to finish with anything less.
With the transfer of Danny O'Brien stabilizing the quarterback position and Mike Taylor and Chris Borland headlining the defense, a third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl isn't out of the question.