The Top Ten Wisconsin Football Teams of All-Time
The Wisconsin Badgers have a long and storied history of football success.
The first Badger football team took the field in 1889 and currently they have an all-time record of 612-464-53. They've won 11 Big Ten titles, three Rose Bowls, and have two Heisman Trophy winners.
I know I'm excluding some good teams, but my list only includes teams from 1945 onward because I wasn't able to find team information from before then.
Here is my list of the top 10 Badger teams of all-time.
No. 10: 1994 Wisconsin Badgers
Behind running back Terrell Fletcher and quarterback Darrell Bevell, the 1994 Wisconsin Badgers racked up an 8-3-1 record and a trip to the Hall of Fame Bowl. In the Hall of Fame Bowl, Fletcher scored two touchdowns and Bevell threw another one as the Badgers rolled by the Duke Blue Devils 34-20. Fletcher is pictured here (Getty Images.)
No. 9: 1981 Wisconsin Badgers
The 1981 Wisconsin Badgers definitely weren't an amazing team, seeing as their record was only 7-5. However, this was the first Badger team to go to a bowl game since the 1962 team. In the Garden State Bowl, Wisconsin fell to Tennessee 28-21 despite backup quarterback Randy Wright tossing two second-half touchdowns to lead the Badger comeback. Wright is pictured here (ibmadison.com)
No. 8: 1959 Wisconsin Badgers
The 1959 Badgers were the second Wisconsin team to make it to the Rose Bowl. After winning the Big Ten with a 7-3 record, 5-2 in the conference, the Badgers traveled to Pasadena hoping for their first Rose Bowl victory. However, the other "UW," the University of Washington, dominated Wisconsin, sending the Badgers to a 44-8 defeat. Here is a photo from the game. Badgers are in darks. (coachingforpizza.blogspot.com)
No. 7: 2005 Wisconsin Badgers
The 2005 Badgers made sure to end Barry Alvarez's career as Wisconsin head coach on a good note. Led by running back Brian Calhoun's 213 rushing yards and John Stocco's 301 passing yards, the Badgers upset No. 7 Auburn 24-10 in the Capital One Bowl. In 2005, Calhoun rushed for over 1,600 yards in his first full season with the Badgers after transferring from Colorado. Wisconsin finished the year with a 10-3 record, the fourth time the Badgers finished with double-digit wins while Alvarez was coach.
No. 6: 1952 Wisconsin Badgers
Led by by future All-American and Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche, the 1952 Badgers ran to a 6-3-1 record and a Big Ten title. Ameche led the Big Ten in rushing and led Wisconsin to their first-ever Rose Bowl appearance. Although the Badgers fell 7-0 to USC in that game, this season was only the beginning of what would become a very successful decade for Wisconsin.
No. 5: 2006 Wisconsin Badgers
Behind first-year head coach Bret Bielema and senior quarterback John Stocco, the 2006 Badgers posted 12 wins—the most wins ever by a Wisconsin team.
Losing only to Michigan, the Badgers finished in a tie for second place in the Big Ten and defeated the Darren McFadden-led Arkansas Razorbacks in the Capital One Bowl.
This was also perhaps the most surprising Wisconsin team of all-time, as they started out the season unranked and ended as the No. 5 team in the country.
No. 4: 1999 Wisconsin Badgers
After defeating the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl the year before, the 1999 Badgers made it two in a row. Led by Heisman Trophy winner and D-1 all-time leading rusher Ron Dayne, the Badgers rolled through the Big Ten again, losing only to Michigan. Wisconsin capped off their 10-2 season with a 17-9 win against Stanford in the Rose Bowl on the first day of the new millenium.
No. 3: 1962 Wisconsin Badgers
Led by quarterback Ron Vander Kelen and tight end Pat Richter, the 1962 Badgers posted an 8-2 record and were only five points short of upsetting the undefeated and No. 1 USC Trojans in the 1963 Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin bowled over their competition during the regular season, losing only to Ohio State. After falling behind 42-14 against USC, the Badgers came back in the fourth quarter, but finally fell 42-37.
That Rose Bowl game also marked the first matchup in a bowl game between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. In fact, ESPN.com Page 2 named this the fifth-greatest bowl game of all-time.
Photo courtesy mmbolding.com
No. 2: 1993 Wisconsin Badgers
Behind quarterback Darrell Bevell and coach Barry Alvarez, the 1993 Badgers team won Wisconsin's first Rose Bowl. The Badgers rolled to a 10-1-1 record, winning the Big Ten and defeating UCLA 21-16 in their own stadium to take home the roses. Running back Brent Moss scored two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl for Wisconsin and was named game MVP.
No. 1: 1998 Wisconsin Badgers
Despite being called "worst team to every play in the Rose Bowl," by ESPN analyst Craig James, the 1998 Badgers rolled to an 11-1 record and a Rose Bowl title after they defeated the UCLA Bruins 38-31. Ron Dayne was named game MVP, though Jamar Fletcher's interception return in the fourth quarter sealed the game for Wisconsin.
This was the second time in five years that Wisconsin defeated UCLA in their own backyard to take the Rose Bowl.
So that's it! There's been a lot of great Badger teams, but I the '98 version was the best! Feel free to send me comments about what Badger team you think was the greatest of all-time.