Badger Bits: A brief look ahead

Russell Wilson might be the toughest player to replace for Wisconsin in coming years.

If you're still recovering from Monday night, you're probably not alone. It will probably be a long time before most Badger fans forget Wisconsin's second straight Rose Bowl loss, but one easy way might be a solid 2012 campaign.

As Jeff Potrykus points out, the Badgers will have a lot of work to do if they wish to put together a team capable of winning a third straight Big Ten championship. Wisconsin will have to find replacements for seven offensive starters (assuming Peter Konz and Montee Ball will forgo their last year of eligibility), five defensive starters and both kicking specialists. They'll also at least two offensive assistant coaches, including a coordinator.

That said, there is still reason to believe the Badgers could make it back to Pasadena for a third consecutive season. Most importantly, the Big Ten Leaders Division will be significantly weaker in 2012 than it was this season. Ohio State can't compete in postseason games. Penn State will be picking up the pieces after the program was rocked by a horrific sexual abuse scandal. Illinois, Purdue and Indiana are all at various states of rebuilding as well.

While it's going to be tough to replace the offensive production of Russell Wilson, Montee Ball and Nick Toon, Wisconsin's defense should be stronger in 2012. Each of the five positions in transition will likely be filled by players with significant experience: Dezmen Southward at safety, David Gilbert at defensive end, Ethan Armstrong at outside linbacker, Beau Allen at defensive tackle and Devin Smith at cornerback. They'll also get all-Big Ten performers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland back.

It's tough to imagine Wisconsin being as good next year, but in a weaker Big Ten with a (hopefully) better defense, it might not matter.

Links

We expected a shootout. Oregon and Wisconsin delivered.

I wrote last week that Wisconsin needed to avoid giving up big plays to beat Oregon. They didn't.

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Dwyre wonders how Wisconsin fans will remember this game. I'm not sure how I'll remember it myself.

ESPN's Brian Bennet says Wisconsin's defense needs to improve. As Bennet writes, the Badgers gave up nearly 10 yards per play. So yes, yes it does.

Los Angeles Daily News columnist provides some insight on the last play of the game.

I really don't like this column from Yahoo's Steve Henson, but maybe I'm just bitter.

Poor Jared Abbrederis.

Bruce Feldman: "Oregon football now is a legit powerhouse." I wonder if he would have said the same had Wisconsin won.

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