The Wisconsin Badgers are going to bounce back in 2013, and will be one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten Conference. Joel Stave and James White will lead a talented offense, while Chris Borland and the Badgers linebackers will head a tough defense.
Here's a look at why the Wisconsin Badgers will be one of the favorites to capture next year's Big Ten title.
The Wisconsin Badgers will return a bevy of offensive talent in 2013.
Freshman sensation Joel Stave will be fully healed and back at quarterback, and James White and Melvin Gordon will lead another dominant rushing attack. At receiver, Kenzel Doe and Jordan Fredrick offer plenty of upside, and both Jared Abbrederis and Jacob Pedersen should be expected to return. The Badgers will have plenty of talent at the skill positions.
Wisconsin's offensive line will lose at least one talented player in Ricky Wagner, and could lose another in Travis Frederick. However, the unit will still return three starters, and the Badgers have recruited extremely well at the position over the last couple of years. Watch for Ray Ball and Dan Voltz to step up and fill those positions.
The Badgers are also going to return a ton of proven players on defense as well.
Wisconsin's defensive line is going to be extremely deep in 2013, as backup Brendan Kelly is the only senior, and it is unlikely that any of the starters will elect to turn pro.
At linebacker, the Badgers will lose all-everything Mike Taylor, but Chris Borland should be back considering his draft profile. Fellow starter Ethan Armstrong will also return, and the Badgers have Jake Keefer, star of the Badgers spring game, waiting in the wings. Highly regarded Vince Biegel could also challenge for playing time.
The Badgers' secondary will be a question mark heading into the 2013 season, as they will lose at least three starters; it isn't a lock that safety Dezmen Southward will return, either. However, the Badgers have plenty of talent returning at corner and safety, with Peniel Jean and Michael Trotter as potential stars.
A totally underrated key to the Badgers' success moving forward are the massive upgrades that are occurring to Wisconsin's facilities. The weight room, athletic training spaces, and medical facilities will all be upgraded and expanded, providing ample space for the team's improvement.
An offseason of utilizing these new spaces and not having to contend with construction will pay big dividends. Watch for the 2013 Badgers to be bigger, faster and stronger.
The Badgers' schedule in 2013 is set up perfectly for success. The Badgers will not play Nebraska, Michigan, or Michigan State, and will only play one game (at Ohio State) in which they won't be favored. Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana and Penn State all must travel to Camp Randall, while the Badgers get reeling programs in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota on the road.
In non-conference play, UMass, Tennessee Tech and BYU must all travel to Madison, with two of the three being absolute gimmies. BYU could be tough, but the Badgers rarely lose at home. A road game against Arizona State could be tricky, but the Badgers will play two patsies in order to prepare.
The Badgers early season struggles are due to last offseason's massive coaching overhaul.
However, that will not be the case going into 2013. Another offseason under offensive coordinator Matt Canada will work wonders, as will an actual offseason under interim offensive line coach Bart Miller, who should get the full-time job. The offense will mesh much faster next season and won't face the same issues it did this year.
The Wisconsin Badgers are going to have at least 10 wins in 2013 and will be in contention for a Big Ten title berth.
The offense will be much more explosive after having a full offseason to prepare, and the return of a healthy Joel Stave will open things up. The defensive should be just as stout with plenty of returning starters and some serious talent waiting in the wings.
The 2013 Wisconsin Badgers are going to be a team to watch.