The Badgers had a down year in 2018, finishing 8-5 and losing the rivalry game to Minnesota. With the young defense having another year of college strength and conditioning and the experienced offensive line ready to block for Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin is primed to bounce back in what looks to be a tough B1G West.
By The Numbers
Coach: Paul Chryst – Year: 5, Record: 42-12, Bowl Wins: 4
2018 Record: 8-5 (5-4 Big Ten)
Key Player: Jonathan Taylor (Junior, RB)
2018 Offensive Production: Rushing Offense – 6th, Passing Offense – 119th, 29.7 ppg – 62nd
2018 Defensive Production: Rushing Defense – 54th, Passing Defense – 22nd, 22.6 ppg allowed – 34th
Turnover Margin: .08, 25 Gained, 24 Lost
Sacks: 1.46 Sacks per game
Long Scrimmage Plays >20 yards: 25, 74th
Opponent Long Scrimmage Plays >20 yards: 50, 74th
The offense is clearly going to be led by running back Jonathan Taylor. The junior RB ran for 2,194 yards and 16 TD’s last year and was the best offensive back in the league. Wisconsin went to Taylor an astounding 35% of the time last season, mainly in part with shoddy QB play under Alex Hornibrook. That number is sure to rise due to a heavy QB controversy for the Badgers. Junior Jack Coan is the current QB1 for Wisconsin according to OurLads.com, but 4-star freshman QB Graham Mertz is poised to take the spot. Early reports from camp state that the competition is officially on and Mertz has the talent to start as a true freshman. Wisconsin has never really been a passing team but lucky for Coan and Mertz, Wisconsin returns it’s senior WR core.
The Badgers disappointing 2018 season is a direct result of their inconsistent defense. Wisconsin’s total defense fell to 29th overall, which made it the first time the Badgers were out of the top 15 in 6 years and the first time out of the top 20 in a decade. The Badger’s 3-4 defense is one of the best in the country, but it was riddled with injuries at linebacker and the defensive line and inexperience in the secondary. In 2019, the Badgers are back, the defense looks healthy and the extra year of S&C for the younger defense will not go unnoticed. This defense should be back to being one of the best units in the B1G if not the nation.
Statistically speaking, Wisconsin will have a big year in 2019. This isn’t wishful thinking, it’s the pretty honest truth. Jonathan Taylor can run Wisconsin’s offense no matter who is at QB. Taylor has a very real chance at winning the Heisman and is a steal at +2000. If Wisconsin can win the B1G and make it to the CFP as a 1 loss team, Taylor is a lock. But all of this relies on Wisconsin having a good year and for that, the defense needs to show consistent improvement.
Wisconsin, however, has a terrible schedule. 5 straight out of its first 6 are played at home and then Wisconsin won’t see the grounds of Camp Randall in close to a month. Wisconsin has to play close to perfect to close out the season. Away games in November will to tough as injuries start to pile up and the exhaustion kick in. Wisconsin plays at Ohio State, Iowa, at Nebraska, and Purdue in back to back weeks to close out the season in what could be a brutal stretch of games.
Wisconsin should start 6-1, go 2-2 in November and beat Minnesota in the Axe game to close out the season. Vegas has set the line at 8, so for the first time this season, hammer the over.