2014 Wisconsin Badgers Odds to Win the Big Ten with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/18/2014
The Wisconsin Badgers went 9-4 in Gary Andersen's first season at the helm last year. Three of Wisconsin's four losses were by a touchdown or less, and the fourth was a 10-point loss in an evenly-played game against South Carolina in the bowl game. The Badgers were led by an amazing rushing attack and a terrific defense. The defense returns just three starters, and one of their two rushing stars is gone.
If Wisconsin is going to continue to be a national contender, the Badgers are going to have to have some youngsters step up and make some unexpected contributions. Wisconsin teams are always able to run the football well, but they'll have to be able to do a little more than that alone. The Badgers play in the Big Ten West Division, which is definitely the easier of the two divisions right now and gives them a chance to fight their way back to the Big Ten Championship Game this season despite losing a bunch of talent in the past couple years. Let's take a closer look at the team's strengths and weaknesses.
2014 Wisconsin Offense
The quarterback spot is a question mark for Wisconsin. The Badgers return Joel Stave, who started last season, but his production last year was nothing to write home about. Stave threw 13 interceptions despite not being forced to throw the ball all that often. Andersen typically likes quarterbacks that are a little more mobile, and Stave definitely isn't mobile. Tanner McEvoy is a better runner and might see playing time this year. Regardless of who plays at quarterback for Wisconsin, this is a position I'm concerned about.
The running back tandem of Gordon and White returns only Gordon, but just about anyone in the country would be thrilled to have Melvin Gordon as their starting back. Gordon ran for 1,609 yards and averaged an amazing 7.8 yards per carry last season. Corey Clement is better than most people realize as well, so Wisconsin is fine at running back. Running behind a massive offensive line loaded with both talent and experience, this running game will be in great shape just as they normally are at Wisconsin.
The other massive question mark on offense comes at the wide receiver spot. Jared Abbrederis was the Badgers leading receiver last year, and they really didn't have a second option. Without him on the field this year, I have a feeling Wisconsin is going to be sadly short on pass catching weapons. Not to mention, the Badgers also lost Jacob Pedersen, who was their tight end and second-leading receiver from a year ago. No one on this year's roster had more than 10 catches a year ago.
2014 Wisconsin Defense
The 2014 Wisconsin defense has one clear strength, and it is the secondary. Six of the top eight players from the 2013 secondary group return. Sojourn Shelton and Darious Hillary should both be very good cover corners in 2014. Michael Caputo was the team's second-leading tackler at the strong safety spot last year, and he's back to provide a strong last line once again.
The issues for the Badgers are with the front seven. Wisconsin returns zero starters from the front seven. It's almost unheard of for a team to return no one at either the defensive line or linebacker unit, and with that kind of inexperience it's hard to win too many games. Two seniors start on the defensive line for Wisconsin, but neither of those guys have much experience, and they weren't highly-rated prospects. The defensive front is down in a big way from last year. Chris Borland was the heart and soul of this defense from the middle linebacker spot last year, and he will be badly missed. There is a little more talent at the linebacker spot than on the defensive line, but this front seven is going to struggle.
Wisconsin had one of the best defenses in the nation in 2013, but they are going to experience a major drop off in production this year.
2014 Wisconsin Badgers Odds to Win Big Ten
Wisconsin is listed as the third favorite to win the Big Ten at 4/1, according to odds from Bovada. The Badgers are 4/5 favorites to win the Big Ten West Division. Wisconsin is listed at 33/1 to win the FBS Championship this year. The Badgers season win total is set at 9.5 wins .
2014 Wisconsin Badgers Picks & Predictions
Wisconsin isn't even close to the caliber of team they were last year, but they also play an extremely favorable schedule in the Big Ten this year . They take on LSU in Houston in Week 1, so that's a major early test. The Badgers road games at Northwestern and Iowa will be difficult, but they avoid both Ohio State and Michigan State. This team has far too many weaknesses to win the Big Ten Championship, and I expect the Badgers to be money-burners this year. Be careful backing the Badgers in 2014.
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Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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