Tuesday night was a memorable night for the Wisconsin Badgers football program. Dare we say it was a lot like a famous Queen song, where the Badgers faithful had to be asking themselves if this was real life or just a fantasy?
After finishing the regular season as the only Power 5 conference team to go a perfect 12-0, the Badgers found themselves in the College Football Playoff top 4 for the first time this season.
Fifth #CFBPlayoff Rankings:
4️⃣ Wisconsin pic.twitter.com/iPFp7OP027
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 29, 2017
That means they are completely in the drivers seat for their future this postseason.
Win the Big Ten championship game and there are no questions as to what will happen. UW controls its own destiny at the moment, something it couldn’t say in terms of the College Football Playoff so far this season.
It also fits with the mantra that head coach Paul Chryst preaches — take care of your business on the field and the other stuff will work itself out. While it may have taken a few extra weeks, once the dust of a full season of college football results were in place, UW was the only undefeated Power 5 team left.
Losses on the road by both Alabama and Miami (FL) helped the Badgers move in to the top 4. Now it is up to them to keep their place in the playoff, and that means beating the most difficult opponent the Badgers have seen all season — Ohio State.
Perhaps the most interesting scenario involves what happens should Wisconsin win the B1G title game over No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday night.
Would it be enough to jump either Oklahoma or Auburn and put the Badgers in to the Rose Bowl? It would keep tradition alive and with a signature win could have the argument to make that move up the rankings.
The good news for the Badgers is that the speculation is for the most part over. Win and in, it is that simple.
Now…can the Badgers fulfill the second half of the equation and do something with the “nice thing” they have in front of them?
Hill is Badgers QB in 2021 class
With all the flurry of activity around the 2020 class, apparently someone wanted to bring the 2021 class some attention on Tuesday as well.
Following back-to-back linebacker commitments in the 2020 class, Wisconsin picked up a verbal commitment from 2021 quarterback Deacon Hill.
The 3-star player out of Santa Barbara, Calif. went with his gut despite the potential to earn offers from the likes of USC, Oregon and Oregon State — all much closer to home.
Instead, Hill chose the Badgers over official offers from Kansas State and Nevada to date.
The 6-3, 225-pound quarterback was first offered by Wisconsin quarterback coach Jon Budmayr in May. It was the first overall offer Hill received in the 2021 class.
Wisconsin was able to get out in front of the 2021 quarterback class after a pair of big targets in 2020 passed on offers from the Badgers. Once that happened, the focus turned to the next class and it paid off in building a quick and solid relationship with Hill.
It may not be a big home run get like Graham Mertz was, but then again the Badgers were hip to Mertz before most of the country was and that paid off as he developed.
Hill is much more physically imposing than most quarterbacks entering their junior season would be, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have mobility either.
Nevada’s more spread-orientated offense and Kansas State’s quarterbacks are certainly going to be mobile ones in the new offense that is being installed.
As for Hill, the 247Sports composite rankings have him as the No. 30 ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2021 class. But, given the small amount of attention paid to that class so far we’ll see where that ends up should Hill hit the QB camp circuit in the coming months and year.
UW will only be taking one quarterback in this class, so they certainly trusted their early evaluation of the tool set that Hill possesses and could posses by the time he is finished at Wisconsin.
Arizona LB joins Badgers 2020 class
June is becoming a fruitful month for the Wisconsin Badgers football program, as official visits during the nicest part of the year on the calendar are paying off.
A day after adding 3-star inside linebacker Jordan Turner to the mix, a second linebacker has verbally committed to UW.
Malik Reed is the next linebacker to jump aboard the Badgers train in 2020, announcing his commitment via Twitter.
This is commitment No. 11 in the class for Wisconsin, who is now up to No. 30 in the country via the 247Sports composite team rankings.
Reed comes to the Badgers as the No. 41 ranked outside linebacker and No. 16 player in the state of Arizona according to the 247Spots composite rankings as well.
Reed is a product of a very productive Chandler, Ariz. program.
He chose the Badgers following a visit to UW earlier this month and over offers from the likes of UCLA, Arizona, Nebraska, Colorado, Washington State, and others.
Interestingly enough, Reed chose to come back to Wisconsin despite his first visit coming in the middle of a blizzard in January. He has stated multiple times that the family atmosphere and coaching staff were big reasons for his interest in the program and that clearly won the day.
Reed appears to be a nice fit at the outside linebacker position, showcasing a good burst and an ability to play in space on the outside. UW sees him in the WILL position according to his post-visit interviews.
Last season, Reed played in 10 of Chandler’s 14 games and recorded 42 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and a fumble recovery in those 10 games.
Badgers add Michigan LB to 2020 class
Summer is proving to be a pivotal month for the Wisconsin Badgers football program. Between finding gems at camp and getting official visitors on campus, the Badgers are on a roll.
That roll continued on Monday as 3-star inside linebacker Jordan Turner verbally committed to the Badgers according to Badger247. He did so following a set of official visits this month.
Turner, the No. 34 ranked outside linebacker in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He is also the No. 18 ranked player out of the state of Michigan.
The Farmington, Mich. native becomes the latest in a growing trend of the Badgers getting players out of a state they previously found difficult to recruit from. Just this past recruiting cycle the Badgers added 5-star offensive tackle Logan Brown and Stephen Bracey to go with another six players from that state in the past few classes.
However, Turner is the first player to commit to the Badgers from the state of Michigan in the 2020 class.
At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Turner has the size to play outside and inside, but the Badgers have told him the project him at inside linebacker. On tape, you can see him packing a heavy punch when he hits players and you can see some big time instincts that really can’t be taught.
Wisconsin wasn’t the favorite for Turner’s commitment until the very end. He does have a family connection to the Badgers, with his mother being a UW alumnus.
As for the Badgers, this commitment is the 10th in the class. Wisconsin ranks No. 33 overall in the 247Sports team composite rankings and No. 8 in the Big Ten.
While those numbers may not be impressive compared to other classes, remember that the Badgers already have three 4-star players in the fold and are waiting on some big names that have visited to make their decisions in the coming months.
Best, Worst case scenarios for Badgers D-Line in 2019
Yes, summer is officially here and that means just a few months time until the Wisconsin Badgers take the field against the USF Bulls in Tampa to open the season.
So, as we slowly approach the season, we’re going to look in-depth at each position and cover this team in a very different way than you may be used to.
It will start with a look at the best and worst case scenarios that could play out at every position at Wisconsin.
Previous Positions: Running Back |
After starting on the offensive side of the ball, let’s flip things around and talk some defense. Last season we saw just how important defensive line play could be, but what does 2019 have in store for us?
Best Case Scenario:
The Badgers get a full season with Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk at defensive end and Bryson Williams uses his experience from his true freshman season to blossom in to a dominant nose guard.
We saw just how big the Badgers missed on the defensive end front when it came to recruiting last season. When both Loudermilk and Rand went down with injury before the season started, the staff was left scrambling to find replacements.
Yes, it was nice that Kayden Lyles and Aaron Vopal stepped in and did an adequate job, but adequate isn’t good enough when you are breaking in some new pieces behind you in the secondary. Additionally, the Badgers were only able to produce 19 total sacks as a team in 2018 after averaging over 35 sacks a game in the previous four seasons.
Loudermilk did return during the season, but injuries kept bothering him and the sophomore finished with just 8 total tackles, 1 sack and 1 QB hurry in nine games played.
Lyles has moved back to the offensive line and both Loudermilk and Rand appear ready to be a dominant force on the edges of the line. Their return can only pay dividends for the outside linebackers as well.
Additionally, given the lack of depth last season, the best case scenario would also involve players like C.J. Goetz, Isaiah Mullens and Boyd Dietzen stepping up as freshmen.
Worst Case Scenario:
This one is easy — either Loudermilk or Rand aren’t ready to shake the injury bug and there is no one stepping up to make plays at defensive end.
I have trust in Williams game at nose guard thanks to his experience behind Olive Sagapolu, and in relief of him later in the season due to injury. But, I don’t have trust in anything behind the first three guys out there just yet.
If that injury scenario does play out, there aren’t a bunch of veterans behind this group at linebacker ready to step up and figure out how to maneuver around the inconsistency that would be up front.
It all starts with those three starters, and injury could mean a back part of the defense that is overexposed as well as a decrease in the ability to play the attacking style of defense we saw in years past.
Most-Likely to Happen:
I personally believe we’ll see Rand get back to old form and become the player everyone thought he would be as a 4-star recruit out of high school in Arizona. But, I can see a case in which Loudermilk or Rand miss a game or two during the season due to nagging injuries.
That means we’ll likely get to see a lot of youth stepping up. The good news there is that players like Dietzen and Goetz were stepping up and playing well in spring ball. Look for a rotation to be trusted at defensive end after no such trust existed last year.
I can also see a situation in which the Badgers will kick Rand inside a time or two to help spell Williams thanks to the lack of experience behind him.
All of this adds up to another season living on the edge (pun intended) for the Badgers defensive line, but that edge being less razor-thin than last season. It will equal an uptick in to the 30’s for sacks from this Badgers team at the bare minimum and it will be a welcome return to a more attacking style.
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