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Wisconsin Badgers

College Football

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By all accounts, Wisconsin exceeded expectations last season, starting with the opening win against LSU. In fact, their only losses came against teams ranked in the top 10 and they were a couple plays away from winning the Big Ten title. With an easier schedule in 2017, the Badgers could be back in the title game and maybe even fighting for the Playoff.

Not many projected starters played in the spring game, so there wasn’t much to take away from that, and that’s partly because Wisconsin knows Alex Hornibrook will be its starting quarterback. While that’s not exactly a great thing, Hornibrook at least brings experience after tossing for 1,262 yards, 9 TDs and 7 INTs last season. His receivers are still a rough mix with Jazz Peavy (635 yards, 5 TDs) and Troy Fumagalli leading the way and Quintez Cephus stepping in as well, but this offense will still be run-first even without Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale. Bradrick Shaw, Taiwan Deal and incoming transfer Chris James should keep the Badger ground game moving along just fine. While this group had issues against some of the better defenses it faced, it still scored when needed against the rest.

Defense may be the bigger question for the Badgers, although that’s been the one thing that fans could count on throughout the years. That main talking point is what new coordinator Jim Leonhard will do with the group. They lost a couple high-end pieces, but should once again have plenty of depth at just about every position. Seniors Garret Dooley and Leon Jacob will run things from linebacker in addition to Jack Cichy and T.J. Edwards up the middle. The secondary should be loaded as well with Nick Nelson (from Hawaii) stepping into one of the corner spots. And per usual, the line should be one of the best in the conference.

Without much change from last year’s group, Wisconsin has its sights set on even better things this season. That’s made possible by an easier non-conference schedule as long as the Badgers can get past a trip to BYU. They miss out on having to play Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State, while getting to host Michigan. Wisconsin’s toughest road games come against Nebraska early on and Minnesota in the finale.

After last season’s gauntlet, this schedule looks great for the Badgers and is a main reason to take them at +600 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference as they are the hands down favorite to win the West division again. Hornibrook remains a possible problem at quarterback, but if the Badgers can run the ball as well as a year ago, this team should finish with double-digit wins again at the minimum.

2017 Wisconsin Badgers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Utah State
Sept. 9 vs. Florida Atlantic
Sept. 16 at BYU
Sept. 30 vs. Northwestern

Oct. 7 at Nebraska
Oct. 14 vs. Purdue
Oct. 21 vs. Maryland
Oct. 28 at Illinois
Nov. 4 at Indiana
Nov. 11 vs. Iowa
Nov. 18 vs. Michigan
Nov. 25 at Minnesota

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