It is a cold fall night in Madison, Wisconsin. The third quarter comes to an end, and there is a clear feeling of anticipation. Building and building throughout Camp Randall Stadium, excitement grows until the first horns blare on the loud speakers. That is when 80,000-plus fans go crazy in unison, leaping up and down to the 1992 House of Pain song, “Jump Around”. A sea of red rocks to the beat, resulting in the stadium to shake and the opponent’s hopes ultimately crushed, thus creating one of the most perfect college football traditions in the country.
This year, Badger fans will continue to bounce around, that is no question. The real question is, what will happen on the gridiron?
The loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon to the NFL was a huge blow, since Gordon provided not only the Badgers, but also the entire country with one of the most impressive careers ever in college football history.
In 2014 alone, Gordon won the Doak Walker Award, was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy race, a Maxwell Award finalist, Walter Camp Player of the Year finalist, First-Team All-American, First-Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and Big Ten Running Back of the Year.
His accolades were just a shimmer of what he accomplished during his time as a Badger.
He set the FBS record for career rushing average with 7.79 yards per carry, and his 4,915 total rushing yards ranks third in Wisconsin history, which is sixth in Big Ten lore.
Needless to say, Wisconsin will be in search for the nation’s next great rusher, however in Madison, the search for great running backs is never a hassle.
Wisconsin kicks off the 2015 campaign against one of the top programs in the country in the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Squaring off at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, the non-conference game between these two heavyweight contenders should be a dandy given the recent success of both squads.
However, with new coach Paul Chryst running the show in Madison now, there could be a level of concern of how the team adjusts to the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator’s (2005-2011) new system.
Chryst oversaw one of the most explosive offenses in the country as the coordinator, but now as head coach there could be a slight hiccup.
The Badgers are known for their powerful offensive line and gritty running attack.
On the contrary however, three starters must be replaced on the offensive line, and of course Gordon’s replacement (junior Corey Clement) has big shoes to fill as well.
The inexperienced offensive line and running game could be the source to a long season in Madison.
On the opposite side of the ball, the defense will be their biggest strength, and could be just enough for back-to-back Big Ten title appearances for the Badgers.
Other than their week one showdown, Wisconsin has a fairly weak schedule, and should be a clear-cut favorite to win their second consecutive Big Ten West Division title, despite the concerns offensively.