The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: The 2012 Wisconsin Badgers

By Christian Braxton / @braxfacts

If you’re like me, you’re from New York, (Ed's Note: Nope) have zero ties to the state of Wisconsin and the closest you have gotten to Madison is knowing that Rodney Dangerfield’s classic “Back to School” was filmed on the Wisconsin campus. I don’t know what it is, but every year, I find myself going crazy for that cardinal and white clad team from up north.

The Badgers always seem to stand on the precipice of greatness, only to fall and land on a pile of “very goodness.” The 2011 Big Ten champs fell to Oregon in last year’s “Tournament of Roses” and need a big bowl win to finally earn some real national respect. Being the Big Ten’s champs for two straight years has been great. Going to the Rose bowl for two consecutive years has been even better. It’s those two straight Rose Bowl losses that are leaving people unconvinced. While this may be true, Bret Bielema will have his guys ready to compete to be atop the “Leaders” division, and the Badgers have a pretty impressive arsenal, as they go gunning (pun intended) for another Big Ten Title. This won’t be easy, of course, but there are a few factors that bode well for Wisconsin this year. For example, let’s talk about ...

The Good: With names like Alan Ameche, Brent Moss, Terrell Fletcher, Michael Bennett, Ron Dayne, Brian Calhoun, P.J. Hill, John Clay (we could do this all day), Wisconsin has a storied running back tradition. This year is no different. Montee Ball returns to the Badgers backfield in 2012 after finishing 4th in Heisman voting and rushing for nearly 2,000 yards last year. Wisconsin has a true Heisman Trophy candidate in the backfield, which is fortunate considering that he could have been on an NFL roster this year earning millions as a rookie. If you were blinded by that ray of light, his backup, James White, would be a starter anywhere else in the Big Ten. Only second to Wisconsin’s running back tradition is its history of great tight ends (Travis Beckum, Lance Kendricks). Jacob Pedersen is set to carry the torch this year as another pass-catching, matchup problem for defensive coordinators. The receiving corps isn’t the most dynamic, but they are reliable and will find success, as the Badgers don’t rely on the deep ball so much as they rely on controlling it.

The Wisconsin defense probably won’t be stellar per se .. .but they’ll be good enough, thanks to their depth. So here’s the thing, and it’s pretty big ...Wisconsin plays Penn State and Ohio State to close out this upcoming season. Ordinarily, that’s enough to turn a few smiles to frowns. The good thing is neither school is eligible for postseason play in 2012, and that helps the Badgers’ cause. We won’t even talk about the fact that Wisconsin’s Big Ten “away” games include the likes of Purdue, Nebraska and Indiana, all of whom were crushed by the Badgers last year. Speaking of last year, prior to last year’s season, Badger fans like myself said, “I love Wisconsin and all, but these dudes need a quarterback.” Their answer was an ACC import by the name of Russell Wilson, who came in and threw for 3,100 yards en route to a Big Ten Championship win and a Rose Bowl appearance. This year, Badger fans asked themselves that very same question once again, and it seems that the team has responded in the exact same way, kinda ...

The Bad: In March, former Maryland Terrapin Danny O’Brien announced that he was transferring from Maryland to Wisconsin. Badger fans could now look ahead to the 2012 season knowing that they had a viable option at quarterback this year. O’Brien was, after all, an ACC Freshman of the year as well as a Freshman All-American. His production at Maryland was way down before he transferred but whatever. O’Brien’s only major flaw is that he’s not Russell Wilson. Wilson had the arm, the legs and the leadership (and probably a starting job in the NFL). Wilson swooped in to Madison like the “touchdown fairy,” left Badger fans stunned, and then he was gone. Now it’s O’Brien’s turn, and he’ll have to basically win a Big Ten championship, and then a Rose Bowl, (a National Championship would be better) in order to capture the hearts and minds of the folks in “Mad Town.” O’Brien can be good, but he’ll have to be better than good if he’s to carve out his own legend at Camp Randall Stadium. That being said, there is not much to say about ...

The Ugly: Wisconsin football seems to be in a pretty good place. O’Brien has been named the starter at quarterback, and that alleviates those concerns for the time being. Barring injuries, Wisconsin can genuinely boast their offensive weapons, and they should hang big numbers on the opposition. We’ll have to wait for the ugly until we get into the Big Ten schedule because early games against Northern Iowa, Utah State and UTEP just won’t provide an accurate measure of how good this badger team is.

Prediction: The truth is college football might as well be quantum physics. We have theories, but no one really knows what the hell they’re talking about. That’s why we watch. I can say that Wisconsin needs to get to week 9 against Michigan State without incident before we can talk about anything. Those pesky Spartans give Wisconsin problems, plain and simple.

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