Archive | July, 2011

Three Badgers on Preseason Watch List

5 Jul

Montee Ball, James White and Russell Wilson will strive to win Wisconsin's first Maxwell Award since 1999.

The preseason accolades continue to stream in for the Wisconsin Badgers. The annual Maxwell Award, given to college football’s most outstanding player, announced its preseason watch list today. Among the players listed were three Wisconsin Badgers in James White, Montee Ball and Russell Wilson.

Having the entire Wisconsin backfield on the watch-list speak volumes for the talent the team features, as well as for the lofty expectations being placed on the Badgers by the media. These three will vie to become only the second Badger to win this prestigious award with the Great Dayne capturing the honor in 1999.

Overall, Wisconsin leads the way in the pre-season watch-list with three players while Michigan State boasts two in Edwin Baker and Kirk Cousins.

In total, the Big Ten features ten players on the Maxwell watch-list:

Notably absent from the list is Ohio State, who, for the first time in quite a while, does not have a player represented on the watch-list. As far as snubs go, I was very surprised to see Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead, who rushed for 951 yards as a Sophomore for the Huskers last year, left off the pre-season list.

-Mitch Larson

The Russell Wilson Effect

5 Jul

Paul Chryst got a new toy this year. And Big Ten defenses beware: somewhere, right now, he’s salivating as he figures out how to use it.

Arguably Bret Bielema’s biggest win in the offseason was keeping Chryst, the Badgers’ offensive coordinator, out of Austin, Texas and in Madison. And after a quick glance at the Longhorn’s depth chart compared to Wisconsin’s returning offensive talent, I think Chryst may have a little more fun in the Badger State, this year.

And that brings us to Bielema offseason win #2: Russell Wilson.

Wilson comes to Madtown with a decorated ACC resume. And despite the fact that most Big Ten fans like to look down on “basketball conferences” like the ACC, Wilson’s gaudy stats speak for themselves. This kid can play. Just check out this video and see for yourself.

I hope the thought of that, but with a Motion W on the helmet, gave you chills.

Now, it remains to be seen IF Russell Wilson can bring that level of play to Camp Randall and it’ll be very interesting to see how quickly Wilson can adjust to smash-mouth Big Ten football.  What’s obvious, though, is that Wilson possesses a skill-set that hasn’t been seen under center in Madison for a long, long time.

If Wilson adjusts to and thrives under Wisconsin’s offense, Chryst continues to schematically create nightmares for opposing defenses, White and Ball shred defenses, Nick Toon plays like we all know he can, and Borland sparks a very good Badger defense, we could be looking at another special year in the Badger Nation. I know those are a lot of ifs, but the truth is, those things are far from being unrealistic.

With the buzz created from the 2010 campaign, and more recently, with the addition of Russell Wilson, Wisco has been getting a lot of love from the so-called “experts.” But I’m going to go a little bit farther. I’m going to say that the hype that has been generated this offseason is part of something bigger, something on a broader scale. I think the nation is ready to see Wisconsin replace OSU as the Big Ten’s top player in the college football landscape.

Uff-da. That can’t settle well with tOSU faithful. But with Wisco’s recent success and the widely publicized happenings in Columbus, it’s hard to argue against.

Who has the most prime-time televised games in the Big Ten this year? Wisconsin.

Who are most pundits picking to win the Leaders Division? Wisconsin.

Who are a lot of people predicting to take the Big Ten’s first championship game? Wisconsin.

Who beat out the defending national champion and, dare I say it, an SEC team, for Russell Wilson? Again, Wisconsin.

I’m not saying that the Badgers will waltz into the Big Ten Championship game unscathed and leave with their tickets punched for Pasadena, but I am saying that the retention of Paul Chryst, the signing of Russell Wilson, and the growing perception of Wisconsin football definitely has the Badgers moving in the right direction as a Big Ten powerhouse.

The stage has been set, Wisconsin. Now don’t squander the chance.

-Mitch Larson