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Odds and Schedule
This should prove to be quite an interesting and important season for the Badgers. Not many are figuring them to be very good, but let's not forget this team has been to three straight Rose Bowl's and is returning 15 starters. With their favorable schedule, Wisconsin should be fighting for yet another Leaders Division title, although that could be determined early with a September road game at Ohio State.
If you think Wisconsin can win the Big 10, it may be worth making a small investment. 5 Dimes Sportsbook has them listed at odds of 10 to 1 to win the Big 10 Title. Think they can win the BCS Title? Well, you could really make out with that one. They are listed at 85 to one for that prop!
They are losing record-breaker Montee Ball in the backfield, but that's about the only big loss they'll have. Sure, there will still be a quarterback controversy, but all three of their QBs that saw significant time last year will be back. Not to mention, James White and Melvin Gordon should prove to be more than able replacements for Ball at running back. Also, their top two receivers are back in wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and tight end Jacob Pedersen. The offensive line is losing a couple NFL-ready blockers at center and tackle, but skilled offensive linemen are not a scarcity in Madison.
Wisconsin's defense is in the same position as they'll only be losing one player from their front seven. Their secondary takes a bit more of a hit with both starting cornerbacks gone, but it shouldn't have that big of an effect on the Badgers defense.
Of course, you can't talk about Wisconsin without mentioning their new coach. Gary Andersen comes over from Utah State and will install a 3-4 defense which may take some time, but with plenty of depth up front, they should be able to transition to it quite quickly.
2013 Wisconsin Football Schedule
Aug. 31 vs. Massachusetts
Sept. 7 vs. Tennessee Tech
Sept. 14 at Arizona State
Sept. 21 vs. Purdue
Sept. 28 at Ohio State
Oct. 10 vs. Northwestern
Oct. 19 at Illinois
Nov. 2 at Iowa
Nov. 9 vs. BYU
Nov. 16 vs. Indiana
Nov. 23 at Minnesota
Nov. 30 vs. Penn State
Wisconsin's out-of-conference schedule will once again have some harder opponents. They'll travel to Arizona State in their third game of the season and get the always tough BYU toward the end of the year. Neither of those games will be gimmies. The Sun Devils provide a great passing threat led by Taylor Kelly which can test this defense early.
The Badgers will have an arguably easier conference schedule than in year's past as they won't have to play Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska. Plus, they'll get Northwestern and Penn State at home which should help.
Road games at Ohio State and Iowa highlight their toughest tasks in the Big Ten. That date with the Buckeyes could determine who's playing the conference championship game as it's very possible the winner out of the Leaders Division has an undefeated conference record.
While Wisconsin made it to the Rose Bowl last year, they did finish with six losses which isn't saying much. If their quarterbacks struggle and their defense fails to transition to a new format, the Badgers won't be competing for their fourth straight Rose Bowl. Still, because of their schedule, they could easily finish with a better record than last year. Nine or 10 wins is very realistic for this squad.
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