Struggling quarterback? Check.
New front seven? Check.
Nine-win season? Yeah, I think so.
Now, I'm a glass 3/4 full kind of guy, so it's always worth taking me with a grain or two of salt, but there's no reason this Badger team can't win nine games. The schedule is weak, and more than anything else people are overanalyzing last season.
It sucked. It happens. Get over it.
NIU is a decent MAC team and will put up a fight. But their defensive line and linebackers won't be able to handle our rushing game. 1-0.
Fresno State will throw a lot of runs at our front seven, but they aren't as good as they were last year, and our offense should be better than it was last year, on the running game alone. 2-0.
Wofford is a decent FCS team. Period. 3-0.
Michigan State -- hmm. This game is a toss up. It's in Madison. That's good. They have a new quarterback and a new running back. That's good. It's the week after they play a big game (also on the road) against Notre Dame. That's good. They don't have any more talent than we do. That's good. They are a well-coached team. That's bad. Toss up, but I lean win, and I don't think that's a big stretch. 4-0.
First road trip, to Minnesota. Sure, they return a whole bunch of folks and they'll be anxious for this game to showcase their new home. Good people, watch their last five games last season. They are an ok team, not any more than that. The only reason the game last season was close was poor ball security on the Badgers part. 5-0 (yes, this revises my earlier thoughts on this game).
Ohio State: 5-1.
Indiana: 8-2. Just kidding. 7-2.
Michigan: they will be a decent team by the time this game comes around, but still playing with a true-freshman quarterback (no, Sheridan won't be in the rotation by this time), no more than a decent offensive line, it's in Madison, and we won't have another epic collapse. We'll have to work for it, but 8-2.
Northwestern. Damn. Bielema hasn't proven to be very good on the road and their defense will handle our running game. While they aren't a great team, they are a good team. 8-3.
Finally, Hawaii. June Jones is gone. This team isn't that good. 9-3.
Basically, I'm finding myself not buying into Minnesota and thinking we'll split MSU and Northwestern. I think MSU is a little overrated right now. They have a couple of big holes to fill, and it's not like they are USC.
This Badger team should have a potent, if run-heavy, offense, and a decent defense. Not a great team, but a pretty good team. Just like 12-1 didn't make Bielema a genius, 7-6 didn't make him a disaster. Solid team, solid record, not a lot of frills.