I am a Badger football fan: Cardinal and white, great running backs, smash mouth football—all synonyms for Wisconsin football. What has it meant to be a Badger fan the last 10 years? Great expectations, followed by horrible disappointment. No expectations followed by great results.
Up and down, up and down...it is returning a fumble for a touchdown in the final seconds in 2004 to remain perfect...for now. It is watching Travis Beckum's senior year become a waste.
Seeing Ron Dayne break the record? That was unbelievable. Watching Sherer struggle in 2008? That was extremely painful.
Badgers football is a long and storied tradition. I have been blessed to live recently when the Badgers have been at least decent every year. My earliest memories of Badger football are of the backfield tandem of Moss and Fletcher. I remember Brooks Bollinger coming into the game against OSU his sophomore year down 17-3 and walking away with a 42-17 win.
This year's bowl game was a fiasco. I cried...just kidding...I think. Anyway, it was rough, but hope is on the horizon!
The Badgers have never been a strong passing team that I can remember. The next four years may prove to change all of that. Here are the reasons why I think the Badgers have a great chance to win the Big Ten this year:
1. Anyone other than Evridge at QB. As previously stated, last year was painful to watch as first the offense would struggle and then the defense would struggle. Evridge couldn't stop throwing picks and the running game struggled at times due to the inefficiency of the passing game. It can only go up from here. Phillips or Sherer will be a definite upgrade.
2. John Clay is a beast. Three out of his last four regular season games last year he rushed for over the century mark. (We should probably throw out the Cal Poly game. I could rush for 100 yards against Cal Poly). The 6'2" 240 pound sophomore should improve drastically going into this season.
He averaged over 5.5 yds per carry as the backup last year. His combination of strength and quickness make him dangerous from anywhere on the field.
3. The wide receiving core is much improved. With the incoming class of recruits and guys returning from injury, the Badgers will have a very improved wide receiver corps from last year's. Kyle Jefferson's return and the emergence of Toon will bolster a corp that looks make a huge impact this year.
4. They have a better schedule. They don't play PSU, Fresno State, MSU, or Purdue at home. If the Badgers find a way to win at OSU and Minnesota, they may be looking at a very favorable record this year.
The Badgers will be looking to rebound from a down year. If they don't, the words "hot seat" may be in Brett Bielema vocabulary by the end of the year. However, I am looking forward to some new looks and some new players this fall and the beginning of a successful Badgers football season!