As the NBA Finals wind to a close, and with my Chicago Cubs playing baseball like Sister Martha's School for Obese Girls and Wayward Nuns, my mind has inevitably wandered to the upcoming college football season. With Wisconsin ranked anywhere from eighth to 15th in pre-season polls, the adrenaline is pumping in Mad-Town, and for good reason.
The Badgers are primed for a great run this season, and I, for one, have drunk every drop of the cardinal and red kool-aid.
The five things on this list are my reasons to be excited about this Wisconsin Badger team.
The toughest non-conference opponent the Badgers have to face is the Arizona State Sun Devils. Not exactly an opponent to strike fear in one's heart. In the conference, the Badger's toughest game will be against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium, but they have Ohio State at home and avoid Penn State this season.
The Badgers return all five offensive linemen from last season, and these giants will be the key in the conference showdowns with Iowa and OSU. If the O-line can give Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien enough time to throw the ball, the Badgers will have one of the best offenses in the country.
Freshman sensation Chris Borland tied for second in the Big Ten with five forced fumbles and tied for first with three fumble recoveries; ranked third on the Badgers in both tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (5); returned six kickoffs and also recorded a punt block, an interception and three made extra points on three attempts. This along with his seemingly inexhaustible energy were enough to give him the conference Freshman of the Year award. He will only be better this season.
J.J. Watt is going to have the eyes of Badger nation on him after the departure of star defensive end O'Brien Schofield. Those are some big shoes to fill, but Watt finished sixth in the league in tackles for loss (15.5). Finished second on the team in pass breakups (five) and fumble recoveries (two) and third in sacks (4.5) in 2009.
Yeah, I said it. The Badgers' offense will be very, very good. Barring injury, they will have the most potent offense in the Big Ten and possibly top-five in the country. Tight end Lance Kendricks provides a huge threat for Scott Tolzien, and John Clay, the reigning Big Ten player of the year, is a legitimate threat to win the Heisman with a 24 touchdown, 1700 yard season in the cards. Throw in Nick Toon and the returning offensive line, and the Badgers are legit.