The stars may be aligning for the UW Men’s Football team to make a run at the Big Ten Championship and to have a shot at making the new College Football Playoff.
The first indication that this could be the Badger’s year is the returning talent that is all over this year’s roster.
At quarterback we have last season’s starter and experienced junior, Joel Stave. Stave is still reportedly dueling with safety turned quarter back Tanner McEvoy for the starting job. McEvoy’s ability to make plays with his legs has brought him into serious consideration for the starting job. I fully expect Stave to be given the starting job but Tanner could and should see some snaps in game play. All said and done, I like Stave. He has big game experience and the arm to make the throws he needs to. The issue is when he gets in the third and longs where we have seen him struggle. Protection and not getting behind the sticks will be the key to success for Stave this year.
Luckily Stave will be joined in the backfield with arguably the best running back duo in college football. Melvin Gordon III, or MG3, is returning to Madison after a breakout year behind James White scoring 12 touchdowns and 1609 yards rushing (7.8 yards per carry). There is no reason that Gordon shouldn’t be an early Heisman Candidate. He is an absolute beast and when has Wisconsin’s running game not been dominate? The second half to the duo comes from Sophomore Corey Clemet whoquietly made a name for himself as the third running back for the Badgers last year scoring 7 TD’s and rushing for 571 yards at 8.2 yards a carry. These two seem ready to carry on the tradition of powerful Wisconsin running backs and will help Stave or McEvoy by getting solid yards to avoid the dreaded 3rd and long.
Aside from the personnel, the Badgers have another thing going for them:
The 14th ranked Badgers take on the 13th ranked LSU tigers on Saturday, August 30th. I don’t like to put too much emphasis on one game, but if the Badgers lose to LSU you can basically kiss any chance of making the four teamplayoff goodbye. Aside from that game, the Badger’s schedule is weak. Not playing Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State in the regular season is huge for Wisconsin’s Big Ten Title hopes. Obviously, no team in the Big Ten is going to be an easy win, especially Iowa on the road, Nebraska at home, and even Minnesota (Battle of Paul Bunyan’s Axe always bringing out the best effort) but all other games on the schedule are definitely win-able giving Wisconsin a straight shot to the Big Ten Championship Game where they could face a good but beatable Michigan State Team or maybe an Ohio State team who will bewithout star QB Braxton Miller. Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes stock has plummeted since the announcement that Miller will not suit up this season.
Regardless of who they play, the point is the could end up one win away from a Big Ten title and there is no reason to believe they couldn’t pull off the one win needed for a championship.
I’m not saying it will be easy, but if you are the Badgers and you are looking at the talent on your team, your favorable schedule, and your biggest competition in OhioState without their star quarterback… you have to think things are coming together nicely for a run at a Big Ten Title.
Written by Sawyer Bock