Wisconsin Has Incredibly Easy Route to Big Ten Title Game Thanks to Penn State and Ohio State Scandals
Wisconsin will have a transition year in 2012. The Badgers have the fewest returning starters in the Big Ten, 10. The have lost six of their nine assistant coaches, most notably offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. They massive turnover could create some instability. Thanks to prominent scandals, though, it won’t matter in the slightest.
Neither Penn State nor Ohio State is eligible to win the Big Ten Leaders Division in 2012 due to NCAA punishments. This leaves Bret Bielema and the Badgers with just three division opponents with which to contend: Illinois, Purdue and Indiana. All three could be awful next season.
Illinois is the marquee opponent. This is a team that finished 6-6 last regular season because it lost its final six games in the conference. New coach Tim Beckman did not bring his MACtion offensive coordinator Matt Campbell. Purdue won seven games last year (four came against Middle Tennessee, Southeast Missouri State, Minnesota and Indiana). The Hoosiers should improve with 19 returning starters in a second-year under Kevin Wilson. They are trying to improve, however, from an 0-11 record against FBS teams. The three finished 51st, 70th and 107th in SRS last season. The last of the trio to finish above .500 in the Big Ten was Illinois in 2007.
Basically, if Wisconsin can finish .500 in the Big Ten, that should get them a crack at their third-straight Big Ten title and Rose Bowl trip. Looking beyond that, they have a soft non-conference schedule (Northern Iowa, at Oregon State, Utah State, UTEP) and avoid Michigan, Iowa and Northwestern on the Big Ten slate. If the Badgers can sweep Nebraska (away), Michigan State (home) and Ohio State (home), that title game might have far more riding on it.
[Photo via Getty]
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