The 2020 college football season is gone for the Big Ten and PAC 12, which means there will be no Badger football this fall. It still pains me to write this, and it probably will for quite some time. Probably until this spring...hopefully, probably not. Anyway, it sounds like as of today the ACC, Big XII, and SEC are all still going to give it a go this fall.
With the lack of Wisconsin football I’ve decided to put my fanhood out for a one-year lease until we see our beloved Badgers back on the field again. Next comes the hard part, which team should I choose? We all have that secondary team we root for (LSU for me) but it really isn’t fair to adopt the reigning national champ. So, I did some research to find out which team truly fits the Wisconsin Badgers persona. Let’s take a look.
I started this project by sheer process of elimination. For me there were some easy criteria to start with. If the team has won a national championship post World War II, they are eliminated from selection. Yes, I know that eliminates a good chunk of teams, and some teams like Syracuse (?) may not seem like a champion to you but the Orange did bring home a title in 1959. The Badgers trophy case is missing a title, so it’s only fair to start there.
With that rule in place LSU, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss have all been eliminated from our pool from the SEC. In the ACC, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Syracuse, Pitt, Miami and Georgia Tech have all been take out of the running. Lastly, Oklahoma and Texas have been removed from the Big 12. TCU and Texas A&M have also won a title, but in 1938 and 1939. Only Minnesota claims trophies that far back with a sense of pride.
After eliminating previous national champions our list was condensed to 23 remaining teams. Next, I took a look at all time winning percentage to cut the list down even further. Wisconsin football has an all-time win percentage of 58.5%. It’s been a program that had some great years, but some dismal years before Barry Alvarez came around still pulls down the weight of the all-time record.
To give us a range to work with I decided to keep all teams within 30% of the Badgers winning percentage. It isn’t right to hop on a longtime successful program like Alabama, but Badger fans also shouldn’t be banished to a year of misery rooting for a team like Kansas. With that range in place, the teams that remain alive are Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Arkansas, Boston College, North Carolina and Texas Tech.
That cut our list down tremendously, but fair is fair. In my head I hoped Mississippi State and Mike Leach would end up being a team in the running, but I can’t root for a program with a worse winning percentage than Rutgers. Sorry, just cant.
We lost some good programs but remember Badgers fans, we are looking to replicate the same joy and misery of a Wisconsin football season, and some of these teams just haven’t performed in the same tier.
And then there we’re seven. Where to go next? Well, I think it’s only fair to take into consideration the past twenty years of Wisconsin football. Since 2000, the Badgers have had an excellent run and as a fan base we’ve enjoyed some great games and brutal defeats. At the end of it all though, Badgers fans have come to expect a certain consistency within their program year in and year out of the past two decades.
Wisconsin comes in ranked No. 18 in terms of win percentage since 2000, and to make the list smaller I decided to only allow a range within 10% of the Badgers to stay alive. With Wisconsin winning 66% of their games since 2000, there are a few that remain in the hunt. Virginia Tech with 75%, West Virginia with 68%, Texas Tech with 66%, Boston College with 68%, and barely making the cut was Arkansas with 56%.
However, to make it an even Final Four I’ve decided to eliminate the Hogs as well. Nobody was rooting for that dumpster fire, #Karma.
Ladies and gentleman, we are down to the final four. All four teams have potential, and so far I am on board for any of them. However, we can only swear our allegiance to one team in 2020. To dwindle this list down to one, I decided to take misery and success into account. Wisconsin is notorious for winning enough games, but losing the big one in unceremonious fashion. They’ve won some conference titles and bowl games, but it’s been awhile since they’ve won the bigger ones and the fans are starting to grumble because of it. With those rules being in place, it’s easy to spot one true champion.
At the end of the day, Virginia Tech appears to be the closest comparable program to Wisconsin football. They are a program that has had some down years, but took a breath of fresh air from a polarizing coach in Frank Beamer. Sound familiar? Additionally, the Hokies have had a lot of recent success and have some ACC titles to prove it, but they haven’t gotten over that hump since 2010. Now a powerhouse title contender stands in their way year in and year out...sound familiar?
Virginia Tech has a style of football that should appeal to Badger fans, or at least it used to. The Beamer Ball Hokies played great defense, established the run and were clean on special teams. The 2020 Hokies didn’t quite have that, but they bring back a team with a lot of potential this fall. With nine returning starters on offense, and 10 on defense the Hokies looked like they could be a team that gives the ACC Coastal division a run.
That may be made harder this year with the addition of Notre Dame, but overall the Hokies should be fun to watch. They’ve got some big games against the likes of Clemson, Pitt, and a road trip to UNC to go along with an underrated rivalry game with Virginia. To me, it just makes to much sense. With that said, I swear my allegiance to you Hokies fans.