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Wisconsin wasn't given much respect last year, but it still finished with 10 wins, including an upset bowl win over USC. The Badgers were mostly forgotten about because they lost early in the season to Iowa and had to play catch up the entire year in the Big Ten West. Unfortunately for them, that'll probably be the case again with a gauntlet of a schedule in the early months.
The Badgers are listed at odds of 150 to 1 to win the National Championship at 5 dimes sportsbook. Odds change, so be sure to check in with 5 dimes and betonline for the lastest updates.
But before that happens, Wisconsin still has to figure out its quarterback. As it stands, Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook are neck-and-neck for the job. Hornibrook has the bigger arm and looked better in the spring game, but Houston has more experience having appeared a couple times last year. Another problem for the passing game is that they don't have much in the form of experienced receivers with Jazz Peavy (20 receptions) looking like the top option this year.
Nevertheless, everyone knows how Wisconsin wants to play football. Their offensive line is deep and returns four of last year's starters. To go with that, their running backs are stacked with Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal. Even if Clement is healthy, it's looking like the Badgers will use a variety of those three throughout the year, mainly using the hot hand.
In order to have a chance in the Big Ten, their defense will have to match what they did last year. The Badgers actually led the nation in defensive scoring, allowing just 13.1 points per game. They return a good amount of starters, most notably on the line led by ends Chikwe Obasih and Arthur Goldberg. Wisconsin lost its best linebacker, but have the options to step in, whether it's T.J. Watt or Jack Cichy. The main issue on the defensive side is looking like the secondary where there will be a lot of new faces, including secondary coach Jim Leohnard. If they can replace their holes at safety, this defense should be near last year's levels.
Paul Chryst's goal will be to improve his team's record in his second season as head coach, but doing that will be extremely tough due to schedule. The Badgers open things against LSU at Lambeau Field, but it's their Big Ten slate that makes things even more difficult. To start, they have back-to-back games at Michigan State and Michigan, then host Ohio State before travelling to Iowa. Even after that stretch, the Badgers still play Nebraska and Northwestern on the road. Reaching 10 wins may be out of the question halfway through the year.
Wisconsin may be just as good as last year, no matter how well its quarterback plays, but it's hard to see the Badgers reaching 10 wins again. Getting to eight may even be an accomplishment.
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2016 Wisconsin Badgers Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. LSU (Lambeau Field)
Sept 10 vs. Akron
Sept. 17 vs. Georgia State
Sept. 24 at Michigan State
Oct. 1 at Michigan
Oct. 15 vs. Ohio State
Oct. 22 at Iowa
Oct. 29 vs. Nebraska
Nov. 5 at Northwestern
Nov. 12 vs. Illinois
Nov. 19 at Purdue
Nov. 26 vs. Minnesota
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