Wisconsin is the origin of Leinenkugel’s, cows, and the directional state motto (forward). The school over there has a football team that is favored to win the Woody Division. This means that should Michigan beat out Sparty and Big Red for Bo, Michigan fans should expect the other half of the Lucas Oil be jumping around sometime at the end of the third quarter of the title game.
The conditions for the Badgers to reach Indianapolis in 2012 are favorable, but that doesn’t mean they’re a compelling contender. They lose key pieces of their offense, including their quarterback, top receiver, and half of their offensive line. They also lose a significant chunk of a defense that ranked a disappointing 60th in the nation against the run last year. While the acquisition of former Maryland QB Danny O’Brien and the return of star RB Montee Ball will be a significant boon, it’s easy to see Wisconsin being, at best, slightly worse this season than they were in 2011. That they are favored to win their division is less a compliment to them than it is an indictment of their division.
- Sept. 1, Northern Iowa
- Sept. 8, @ Oregon State
- Sept. 15, Utah State
- Sept. 22, UTEP
- Sept. 29, @ Nebraska
- Oct. 6, Illinois
- Oct. 13, @ Purdue
- Oct. 20, Minnesota
- Oct. 27, Michigan State
- Nov. 3, WIFEDAY
- Nov. 10, @ Indiana
- Nov. 17, Ohio State
- Nov. 24, @ Penn State
Wisconsin’s consumption of nonconference cupcakes continues, although the 2012 batch has a little more substance than in years past. Northern Iowa and Utah State, for instance, both had winning records. A visit to Oregon State is a nice gesture, except Oregon State went 3-9 last season. Regardless, Corvallis is a great destination. I used to live there.
The B1G schedule is the B1G schedule. Wisconsin misses Michigan (yeah she’s married now) but plays Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State, two of them on the road. Keep an eye on the Nov. 17 game. The brawl in Madison should take the edge off a Buckeyes team gearing up for their season finale against the Wolverines.
This schedule is as favorable as: Watching a horror movie. You'll probably make it -- it'll just be somewhat unpleasant.
Your uniform makes rest of us vomit into our mouths, too.
Leaving: QB Russell Wilson (72.8%, 3,175 yards, 33 TD, 4 INT), WR Nick Toon (64 rec, 926 yards), RG Kevin Zeitler, C Peter Konz
Returning: RB Montee Ball (1,923 yards, 6.3 ypc, 33 TD), RB James White (713 yards, 5.1 ypc, 6 TD), TE Jacob Pederson (30 rec, 356 yards, 8 TD), LT Ricky Wagner.
I take some of that back: losing half of their NFL-caliber linemen may not be that big of a deal. There is plenty of protein, grain, and beer available in Madison to turn their next crop of linemen into run-blocking pâté.
Losing Russell Wilson, however, IS a big deal. He ran the Badgers offense with remarkable efficiency as a transfer. That kind of ability is rare. O’Brien is a lot less talented than Wilson and has already shown that he isn’t great with transitions. In light of the loss of their one elite receiver, I predict O’Brien will be a slightly worse version of former Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien.
Player you’ll probably see on Sportscenter: Montee Ball
Doing what? Loitering in the end zone. Like a bawss.
This offense is as frightening as: “The Ring” -- with the lights on. Fear level = 7.5.
His smile makes me believe this was from a pre-game presser.
Style: 4-3 over, coverage not guaranteed if the game is on the line.
Leaving: DT Patrick Butrym (55 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4 sacks), CB Antonio Fenelus (42 tackles, 4 INT, 9 PBU), S Aaron Henry (55.5 tackles, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 INT, 7 PBU)
Returning: MLB Chris Borland (103.5 tackles, 19 TFL, 2.5 sacks), WLB Mike Taylor (105 tackles, 9 TFL, 2 sacks), CB Marcus Cromartie (34 tackles, 3 PBU)
Linebacking should be fine. The secondary will take a hit. The defensive line needs some work.
Also, really gotta do something about this:
Player you’ll probably see on the BTN: Chris Borland.
Doing what? Getting called a “throwback.”
This defense is as frightening as: “House on Haunted Hill” 1999 remake. Has its moments; I have no idea what's going on during the last two minutes. Fear level = 4.
Overall: 9-3, 5-3 B1G
Their chances of making it to Indianapolis are as good as: Making it through a double feature of “The Ring” and “House on Haunted Hill.” You are with your grandpa, your neighbor’s little brother, your stepsister, and a bunch of their middle school friends. Your uncle was there but got caught bringing in outside food and got kicked out of the theater.
-----BIG SECTION BREEEAAAAAAKKKK-----
Bold prediction: This statue stays.
Let's not talk about the elephant. Let's talk footbawwww, and in terms of footbaw Penn State should be okay for the season. New head coach Bill O'Brien is going to install his superinnovative Patriots offensive scheme, and it's going to be great. No more field goal fests against Iowa. Enough guys are coming back that the Nittany Lions won't feel the effects of their abysmal 2012 recruiting class for another year at least. If it weren't for all the Penn State Awful Thing stuff going on, there might actually be some sense of optimism. It's like the football version of finally getting crisp, clean sheets after years of bedridden awfulness.
Unfortunatelly, Penn State Awful Thing.
- Sept. 1, Ohio (Bobcats)
- Sept. 8, @ Virginia
- Sept. 15, Navy
- Sept. 22, Temple
- Sept. 29, @ Illinois
- Oct. 6, Northwestern
- Oct. 13, WIFEDAY
- Oct. 20, @ Iowa
- Oct. 27, Ohio (Buckeyes)
- Nov. 3, @ Purdue
- Nov. 10, @ Nebraska
- Nov. 17, Indiana
- Nov. 24, Wisconsin
Penn State has a relatively soft nonconference schedule and doesn’t face either of the Michigans. They get division primary foes Wisconsin and Ohio State at home. If they had either an offense or, you know, program stability, they’d be slightly favored over Wisconsin. We’ll see if O’Brien can work on the former, but there’s nothing to be done about the latter. Regardless, the Nittany Lions come in close second to the Badgers in the preseason division rankings. You never know. With a few lucky bounces they might just end up in Indianapolis.
This schedule is as favorable as: A sturdy lifeboat in the middle of a hurricane.
Sure. Why not.
Style: New England
Leaving: WR Derek Moye (40 rec, 654 yards, 3 TD)
Returning: QB Matt McGloin (54.1%, 1571 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT), RB Silas Redd (1241 yards, 5.1 ypc, 7 TD), WR Justin Brown (35 rec, 517 yards, 2 TD), C Matt Stankiewitch
Penn State has some issues at quarterback again with ginger walk-on extraordinaire McGloin, perennially unfinished attic Rob Bolden, and founding father (John) Paul Jones, but McGloin seems to be in best position to lead the charge. The tradeoff of having a low ceiling is the fact that he maybe kinda understands how plays work. Redd's return to the backfield will be helpful regardless of who starts.
Whether O'Brien's massive overhaul of the offense will be effective is unknown. The Nittany Lions were awful last year, and not enough of the personnel has changed to suggest that they won't be again. Playcalling was probably a weakness in 2011, but playcalling is usually dictated by talent and execution. Unless you're Jim Bollman.
Player you’ll probably see in a flashback nightmare: Matt McGloin.
Doing what? Victimizing J.T. Floyd.
This offense is as terrifying as: An Xbox made with disassembled Atari components. Fear level = 3.
No. 42 LB Michael Mauti
Style: 4-3 under
Leaving: DT Devon Still (42 tackles, 17 TFL, 4.5 sacks), DE Jack Crawford (29 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks), LB Nate Stupar (59.5 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INT), CB Chaz Powell (35 tackles, 2 PBU, 2 INT), S Nick Sukay (48 tackles, 8 PBU, 3 INT)
Returning: DT Jordan Hill (37.5 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks), LB Michael Mauti (injured for most of 2011), LB Gerald Hodges (76 tackles, 10 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT), S Malcolm Willis (25 tackles, 1 INT)
Player you’ll probably see on ESPN: Gerald Hodges.
Doing what? Getting drafted, wishing he’d left a year earlier.
This defense is as terrifying as: A refurbished Xbox made with Xbox components. Fear level = 8.
Overall: 9-3, 5-3 B1G
Their chances of reaching Indianapolis are as good as: Getting a LAN game to work with aforementioned Xboxes.
-----BIG SECTION BREEAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKK-----
I have only one word for Indiana’s outlook for 2012: Hoosierquest.
- Sept. 1, Indiana State
- Sept. 8, @ UMass
- Sept. 15, Ball State
- Sept. 22, WIFEDAY
- Sept. 29, @ Northwestern
- Oct. 6, Michigan State
- Oct. 13, Ohio State
- Oct. 20, @ Navy
- Oct. 27, @ Illinois
- Nov. 3, Iowa
- Nov. 10, Wisconsin
- Nov. 17, @ Penn State
- Nov. 24, @ Purdue
Playing UMass on the road is so Indiana.
This schedule is as favorable as: The Ann Arbor Art Fair is to traffic.
Style: 4-out, 1-in Motion.
Leaving: Some dudes.
Returning: PG Tre Roberson (57%, 937 yards, 3 TD, 6 INT), SF Kofi Hughes (35 rec, 536 yards, 3 TD), PF Ted Bolser (14 rec, 165 yards, 1 TD)
Indiana is still figuring out why the term “basketball on grass” isn’t more literal. They are currently adjusting to the oblong shape of the ball and learning that traveling is okay.
Player you’ll probably see during a live update: Tre Roberson.
Doing what? Getting pwned.
This offense is as frightening as: Modern art; Why is your running back facing backward? What is the symbolism of having just four guys on your offensive line? The abstract shape of your I-formation evokes the image of a bowl of red jello about to get thrown against a window. How uncompromisingly postmodern. Fear level = 1.
Replogle, left; Black, right
Leaving: LB Jeff Thomas (57.5 tackles, 1 sack), LB Leon Beckum (42.5 tackles, 2 sacks)
Returning: DT Larry Black (48 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks), DT Adam Replogle (38.5 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 sacks)
Yes, Larry is Jibreel’s older brother. He is decent (massive Indiana caveats abound), so maybe Jibreel will be too.
Player you’ll probably see on Sportscenter: Adam Replogle.
Doing what? Getting dragged into the end zone by Montee Ball.
This defense is as frightening as: Pottery exhibits; they take up space, but are liable to fall over and break on contact. Fear level = 2.
Overall: 1-11, 0-8 B1G
Their chances of making it to Indianapolis are as good as: Finding an item at the Art Fair that is both aesthetically pleasing and reasonably priced.