There are now 95 days until the Wisconsin Badgers' 2016 season begins. Head coach Paul Chryst will lead his team into Lambeau Field against the LSU Tigers (and his former defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda) on Sept. 3, but until then -- and the start of summer camp in a couple of months -- we'll ask some questions about this year's squad.
What’s one bold prediction for Wisconsin's 2016 season?
Luke Mueller: The Badgers will be 3-2 on Oct. 2. I know you wanted something like “Corey Clement Heisman” or “Badgers undefeated through October," but I’m not Skip Bayless, so get your hot take somewhere else.
Let’s think about this, though. Wisconsin going 3-2 in its first five games means that it either beat LSU on a “neutral” field, or won on the road at either Michigan State Stadium or the Big House. Any one of those three wins would be tremendous. This team is talented, but to make a splash this year, the Badgers are going to be firing on all cylinders. Even a Big Ten West championship is going to be a struggle. Realistically, I think the Badgers will be the best five-loss team in the country and they still may be in the Top 25 when bowl season rolls around. View this season as a big success if they get to 8-4, because they get the brunt of the East this year (and next).
Andrew Rosin: How bold do you want it?
Mildly bold: The Badgers emerge after the Iowa game at 5-2.
Medium bold: Clement finishes in the top five in the Heisman vote.
Super bold: A.J. Taylor becomes a Jeremy Maclin-like weapon for the Badgers from day one.
Habanero bold: Wisconsin makes the national championship game.
Jon Arens: The beauty of this season is going to be in the struggle. Gone are the days of the easy, sleep-inducing schedules. Wisconsin has a legit schedule this year, and Chryst has a year under his belt and a summer to get ready for it. Can the offense click on huge road games versus Michigan State and Michigan, back-to-back? Will the random USC guy ruin the momentum of the Badger defense? Will T.J. Watt emerge as a bonafide freak of nature?
I think all of those things are very much possible, but the boldest take is that Wisconsin beats LSU badly week one. If you grew up in WIsconsin, how is that game not the peak of your existence? Sorry LSU, but nobody cares about playing the Mercedes Superdome because literally anyone can book the Superdome, including your flag football team from work. [Ed. note: Not sure this is true, but we'll let Jon roll with it.] Nobody gets to play at Lambeau Field. The Badgers are going to have an extra gear for Labor Day weekend, and I think they'll smoke LSU. Taxi drivers will make so much money in Green Bay that night, Uber will open up an office in Ashwaubenon.
Owen Riese: The Badgers return to form, and have two thousand-yard rushers with a third flirting with it. Clement will end around 1,700, Dare Ogunbowale will hit 1,100 and Taiwan Deal ends in the mid-800s. I fully expect Wisconsin to return to its ground-and pound-dominance this upcoming season. The offensive line is sorted out, and the horses are returning, the one with the highest pedigree with some fresh legs. Opposing defenses beware -- the Badgers are back.
Jake Kocorowski: I foreshadowed it during our breakout player roundtable, but Watt will have an all-conference type of season opposite Vince Biegel. I think both outside linebackers will feast on opposing offenses this season, especially rushing the quarterback and disrupting their rhythm in the passing game. While he was still transitioning to his new position from tight end, then-defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and current position coach Tim Tibesar utilized Watt in subpackages last year. Joe Schobert and Biegel transitioned to outside linebackers in Aranda’s first year of the 3-4 scheme in 2013. In 2014, they both registered double-digit tackles for loss in that decorated “Chevy Bad Boyz” unit. Though Justin Wilcox is now taking over the defense, I still expect both inside and outside linebackers to make some plays in a mature front seven. Watt will make an impact, especially with the talented players surrounding him.