2019 Wisconsin Badgers Team Preview

Wisconsin has been one of the most consistent programs in college football since the turn of the century. The Badgers have had a winning record every year since 2001, and have won ten or more games four of the past five years. When last year’s 8-5 mark can be classified as a disappointment, you know your program is in good shape. QB Alex Hornibrook is gone, as are some key pieces on defense, but with Jonathan Taylor back at the RB spot, they will be dangerous as always.

Offense

Alex Hornibrook was a solid hand at quarterback the past few years, but after a bit of regression in 2018, he and Wisconsin mutually parted ways, as he transferred to Florida State when it became clear that he might not win the starting job for his senior season. The Badgers pulled in the #3 pro-style quarterback of the 2019 class, Graham Mertz, to replace him.

A true freshman quarterback can always be risky, but he has some great talent around him in the receiving corps as the top five are back in a group led by AJ Taylor and Danny Davis III.

All-American running back Jonathan Taylor (2,194 yards, 16 touchdowns, 7.1 yards per carry) is back as the leader of the offense. The line does lose four starters, but it is hard to worry about the Badgers, a program that has maybe been the best in the country up front in recent years.

If the line holds up like I think it will and Mertz can live up to the hype, I think Jonathan Taylor and the receiving corps can lead this offense to a great year.

Defense

The defense took a big step back last year, especially when it came to the pass rush, granted, they were still good, but after being a top-five defense in the country in 2017 the drop off was noticeable. Now, four of the top five tacklers are gone. The only guy with more than one sack back is OLB Zack Baun (2.5 sacks, five TFL).

The secondary will be more experienced after four freshmen started significant time last year. Rachad Wildgoose led the group with seven PBUs and could contend for all-conference status. After injuries plauged this defense last year, they might actually improve despite a ton of losses thanks to some consistency in the rotation.

2019 Outlook

There are a ton of unknown quantities on this team from the QB spot to the line to most of the front seven. Wisconsin has recruited at such a level that the talent is still there for a trip back to ten wins, but the schedule is tough, as they draw three of the top four from the East as crossover opponents and have a sneaky tough season opener @ USF on a Friday night. I think this could be a surprisingly disappointing team this year.

Schedule

DateOpponentOPp. rankProj. Margin
30-AugAT USF754.0
7-Sepcentral michigan12222.7
21-Sepmichigan7-6.7
28-Sepnorthwestern405.5
5-Octkent state11119.0
12-Octmichigan state201.6
19-Octat illinois814.7
26-octat ohio state515.4
9-Noviowa190.8
16-Novat nebraska29-2.4
23-Novpurdue435.6
30-Novat minnesota38-1.3

Average Projected Record: 6.9 wins, 5.1 losses (4.5 wins, 4.5 losses)