It's that time of the year already: Preseason College Football Magazine time (or as it's known in my house - College Football Magazine Day [channeling my inner Billy Madison voice]). I thought I'd spare you the time and money to give you the information that you need to know out of each magazine as they become available to me. It just so happens that Lindy's is the first out of the gate and it's chalk full of interesting tidbits for us Badger faithful.
Let this be a start of a glorious beginning of summer tradition here for you fine readers of MTB and for us here, so let's kick it off!
Overall: First things first, you know you've got to open up and find out where Wisconsin ranks (17th in the nation) and what they see the Big Ten looking like. They picked Wisconsin to finish 2nd in the Leaders Division (shocking, I know). Here's how they see the conference shaking down:
1. Michigan (7th)
2. Michigan State (12th)
3. Nebraksa (25th)
4. Northwestern (55th)
5. Iowa (41st)
6. Minnesota (74th)
1. Ohio State (14th)
2. Wisconsin (17th)
3. Penn State (27th)
4. Purdue (42nd)
5. Illinois (62nd)
6. Indiana (87th)
Not much on this list is all that shocking to me, other than the pick of Iowa behind Northwestern, especially since they see Iowa as the 41st ranked team. How are they ranked 14 spots higher nationally yet are going to finish lower in the conference standings? Especially when you compare the two teams schedules (but that's for a bit later).
Big Ones: This is Lindy's look at the big games conference teams will be involved in in 2012. Wisconsin appears on that list four times (at Nebraska, vs. Minnesota, vs. Michigan State, vs. Ohio State) and it could be a fifth if they can navigate the conference waters once again. In fact the Michigan State return to Camp Randall is their 5th best conference game of the season.
Honor Roll: Wisconsin appears on many individual and position lists in the magazine, so let's break it down for you.
- All-American: 1st team: RB Montee Ball, OL Ricky Wagner
- All-Big Ten: Wisconsin lands 6 players (Montee Ball, Ricky Wagner, Travis Frederick, Jared Abbrederis, Jacob Pederson, and Chris Borland) on the 1st team. On the 2nd team is Jared Abbrederis (All Purpose) and LB Mike Taylor. The Badgers landed DT Beau Allen and CB Devin Smith on the 3rd team.
- Individual Rankings:
Top Running Backs: #1 Montee Ball
Top Tight Ends: #3 Jacob Pederson
Top Offensive Tackles: #3 Ricky Wagner
Top Iniside Linebackers: #3 Chris Borland
Top Outside Linebackers: #6 Mike Taylor
- They rank the Badger O-Line as the 5th best unit in the country and somehow managed to leave off Wisconsin from the 10 best backfield's list (QB's & RB's) despite Ball, White, Gordon, and a top notch transfer QB - yet teams like Nebraska and Alabama made it on the list? Whatever, keep underestimating and Bucky will keep overachieving. Defensively the Badgers LB unit ranks 5th nationally.
Musings & Other Notes:
- Lindy's ranked the Badgers recruiting class of 2012 as the 9th best in the conference, highlighting OL Dan Voltz and LB Vince Biegel. Of course they lowered the ranking because of the small number of incoming players and they also hit Wisconsin hard for the losses of Kyle Dodson and J.J. Denman - who they said were the biggest recruiting misses in the conference.
- Biegel was the 6th best recruit to the conference according to Lindy's while Voltz came in ranked 18th by the publication.
- The Top Newcomer on the Badgers according to Lindy's is incoming QB Danny O'Brien, noting that expecting O'Brien to live up to Wilson's level is an unfair comparison and I have a distinct feeling the only people who may be making that comparison at all will be that four letter network.
- Despite Wisconsin winning the Leaders Division (since Ohio State is ineligible) and playing in the Big Ten Title game they don't see the Badgers playing in a BCS bowl game, those honors go to Michigan (Rose Bowl vs. Oregon) and Michigan State (Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma).
- One of the biggest things I always do is look at the non-conference schedule and see where our opponents rank and just like you and I suspect, it's not that pretty. Northern Iowa is ranked 11th in the Lindy's FCS Top 25 as well as 2nd in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (In true soccer fashion that means they're the 135th ranked team in the country). Week 2's opponent, Oregon State is the best non-con opponent the Badgers face, ranked 66th by Lindy's and 6th in the Pac-12 North. Up after that is Utah State and they have the Aggies ranked 82nd and finishing 2nd in their final season as a member of the WAC. Finally our last non-con opponent is UTEP and the Miners are ranked 111th and expected to come in 6th (last) in the C-USA West division.
- That crappy schedule got me to thinking about the rest of the Big Ten and as a result I came up with a table and it shows just how pathetic the Badgers non-conference schedule really is. I used the rankings that Lindy's gives from 1-124 for FBS opponents and then just like I explained above I gave the teams ranked in the FCS Top 25 the next 25 spots from 125-149. If an FCS opponent wasn't ranked then I gave them the corresponding ranking below 149 (25th in FCS rankings) based on their projected conference finish by the publication, added it all up, and averaged it and here are the results in order from hardest to easiest:
- Yep, that's right the Badgers are DEAD LAST in terms of Strength of Schedule in the Big Ten (at least according to Lindy's). Frankly it's not that surprising at all, but what is surprising is that Minnesota with it's non-conference schedule that includes an FCS opponent appears in the top six of the conference rankings. I just see no reason at all for a team with the level of talent of Wisconsin to not be playing a better schedule than they are, especially if you want to be taken as serious contenders on a national level. GO OUT AND PLAY SOMEONE!