It seems hard to believe, but we are already halfway through the college football season. Yeah, it's gone that quickly.
It seems like only yesterday that the temperature was in the mid-80s in Madison and the Wisconsin football team was on the road taking on UNLV in the desert heat.
Well, unbelievably, temperatures are still close to 80 degrees in Dairyland, but the difference is it's mid-October, not early September.
So, as we are at the midway point in the season, it's time to reflect on the Badgers' performance so far this year.
At 5-1 (1-1 in Big Ten play), Wisconsin is ranked as the No. 18 team in the country by the AP and No. 16 by the coaches. But how did they fare on my midseason report card?
Despite averaging over 37 points a game this season, that number couldn't be more misleading. Yes, Wisconsin has the talent to be one of the best offenses in the nation. No doubt. But their execution and play-calling stagnancy has held them back.
There are three reasons Wisconsin statistically has one of the best offenses in the nation despite being largely unimpressive these first six games: UNLV, Austin Peay and Minnesota.
In those three games, the Badgers scored 152 of their 223 points this season. In their other three games, Wisconsin scored 27, 24 and 19 points. One of those games was a loss, the other a very unimpressive win and the other a miracle extra-point block from going into overtime.
So no, despite high expectations Wisconsin's offense hasn't performed to its potential.
That said, a few Badgers have stood out this year.
After a slow start, quarterback Scott Tolzien has been amazingly efficient, throwing for 1,201 yards, seven touchdowns and only two interceptions while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.
The dual combination of John Clay (692 yards rushing, nine touchdowns) and James White (485 yards, eight touchdowns) has proved to be one of the best rushing tandems in the country.
After replacing Garrett Graham at tight end, Lance Kendricks has emerged as one of the best at that position in the country, catching 25 balls for 391 yards and three touchdowns.
But if Wisconsin is to reach a BCS bowl, their offense is going to need to execute better than they have so far.
Like the offense, statistically Wisconsin looks like they've played well on defense. So far, the Badgers are allowing only 19 points and 308 yards a game.
But in their key games this year, they've faltered. Against Michigan State, the Badgers allowed 34 points and almost 450 yards of offense, and against Arizona State, they allowed huge chunks of yards though they gave up only 19 points.
Simply put, Wisconsin's defense has to take huge strides if they want to hold off the likes of Ohio State, Iowa or Michigan.
No, expecting Wisconsin's "D" to play lights out was unreasonable going into the season. Losing linebacker Chris Borland to a season-ending shoulder injury makes that even more implausible. But they've still been disappointing so far this year, especially against the pass.
Already this year, the passing "D" has allowed 10 touchdowns and 200 yards passing per game.
Yes, there have been some standouts. J.J. Watt, Culmer St. Jean and Aaron Henry have all played well. But this defense is going to have to play well as a whole if the Badgers are to have any hope of still winning the Big Ten.
To be blunt, Wisconsin's special teams have been awful.
Already the Badgers have allowed two return touchdowns (one kickoff, one punt) and stopped another one a yard short of the end zone. Those failures may have cost them the game against Michigan State and nearly did against Arizona State.
However, despite struggling somewhat last year, kicker Phillip Welch has been a bright spot this year. So far, he's gone 7-of-9 on field goals and has consistently had good kickoffs.
That said, special teams blunders kill teams. There's little room for error in the Big Ten, and spotty special teams spell doom for even the best teams.
The Badgers have to improve.
Although there haven't been any major coaching gaffes this year, Wisconsin's coaches haven't done a whole lot to help the Badgers get wins.
The game plans have been conservative, mostly focusing on rushing the ball and throwing short passes. It's been effective, but somewhat frustrating to watch. With a game plan like this, if the Badgers ever get down by multiple scores, it's going to be tough to fight back and win, as evidenced by their loss to MSU.
Defensively, the game plan has been frustrating as well. The defensive calls have been predictable, and when the defensive backs play almost 10 yards off the receiver every time, yards are going to be easy to come by for the opponents.
As for special teams...well, not a whole lot of analysis is needed there.
Sure, Bret Bielema has a good record in his career at Wisconsin. But he's yet to record a signature win in the Big Ten. If he's to earn a place in Badger fans' hearts, Wisconsin is going to need to finish out the year strong.
So, after six weeks Wisconsin is sitting at 5-1. Good, but not great.
At this point in the season, many Badgers fans expected Wisconsin to be undefeated. With their returning starters, that was actually a pretty realistic expectation. However, losing at Michigan State to a good Spartans team is somewhat acceptable.
But overall, Wisconsin's play has been unspectacular and honestly a little disappointing.
The offense has been productive, but not as explosive as they could be. The defense has bent, a lot, and broke down in crucial situations against the Spartans. The special teams have been terrible. Coaching has been okay, but it just seems like Bielema and company's offensive and defensive strategies are holding the team back.
Despite all that, the Badgers are still 5-1, are still in the Big Ten race and—if they play well—can still reach a BCS bowl. They'll just need to play a lot better from now on if preseason expectations are to be met.