Barry Alvarez, the Badgers' fifth-year coach, removed a crinkled sheet of paper from his desk, glanced at the goals he had written for his team last summer—Win at least five Big Ten games...Finish in the top four in the Big Ten—then threw the paper away.
Old rules no longer apply in Madison. After finishing 5-6 in '92, the Badgers were 10-1-1 last year, tied Ohio State for the Big Ten title and won their first Rose Bowl. With 15 starters back, Alvarez says, "I would anticipate that teams will take us seriously."
Losing the element of surprise is one obstacle that Wisconsin must surmount. Another is its schedule. The Badgers travel to Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Colorado. And Wisconsin is a team that lost 27 of 28 Big Ten away games between 1986 and '92. "Our program was known for having trouble on the road," says senior center Cory Raymer. "Actually, it was known for having trouble everywhere."
It's a mature bunch that will hit the road this season: 18 upper-classmen will start, including quarterback Darrell Bevell, a 24-year-old junior who completed 67.8% of his throws in '93. At 6'2", 200 pounds, Bevell is in better shape now than when he came to Madison after having served as a Mormon missionary for two years. He even scrambled 21 yards for the decisive touchdown against UCLA in the Rose Bowl. "Half the team was laughing at me when I got to the bench." says Bevell, who has lowered his 40 time from 5.2 to 4.9.
Bevell won't have to run much this fall. That task will be handled by senior Brent Moss (2,595 yards and 26 touchdowns in three years), who was MVP of the Big Ten last season, and his start-just-about-any-where-else backups, senior Terrell Fletcher and sophomore Carl McCullough.
Five first-stringers are gone on defense, but Alvarez is confident that four years of good recruiting will fill the holes.
So, a new list is in order. Item 1: Be a better team than last year. To return to Pasadena, Wisconsin will have to be.
Fletcher has helped Wisconsin leap into the elite of the Big Ten.