Last year: 11-3, 6-2 in Big Ten
Coach: Bret Bielema, 60-19 in six seasons
Key loss: Senior quarterback Russell Wilson made a gigantic slash after transferring from North Carolina State, completing 225 of 309 passes for 3,175 yards and 33 touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Outlook: The Badgers can make a strong case for winning their third Big Ten title in a row if newcomer quarterback Danny O’Brien can come close to matching what Russell Wilson did last season. O’Brien is a Maryland transfer who has a strong supporting cast, and that can be said for the defense, too. The strength on that side of the ball is linebacker, where Mike Taylor and Chris Borland were the league’s top two tacklers.
Player to watch: And the winner of the 2012 Heisman Trophy is. . . .Unless something bad happens, tailback Montee Ball will be among the finalists. He rushed for 1,923 yards and 39 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards a carry last season. That total could increase considering he’s running behind a more experienced line, and because there’s less quarterback focus.
Sept. 1 Northern Iowa
Sept. 8 at Oregon State
Sept. 15 Utah State*
Sept. 22 Texas-El Paso
Sept. 29 at Nebraska*
Oct. 6 Illinois*
Oct. 13 at Purdue*
Oct. 20 Minnesota
Oct. 27 Michigan State*
Nov. 10 at Indiana
Nov. 17 Ohio State*
Nov. 24 at Penn State*
Opponent’s winning percentage: 53.4%
*2011 bowl participant
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football