OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE
Running back JONATHAN TAYLOR gives them a home run threat. He's one of the most explosive players in the country.... Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is better than people think. He has made mistakes of inexperience, but for all the attention on Taylor and the run, Hornibrook still made them go. They were outstanding on third-and-long all year. In those situations he made very accurate throws against man coverage from some of the best Big Ten defenses.... That offense will have to give them more because they lost a lot on defense. It's amazing that they had three coordinators in three years [Dave Aranda, Justin Wilcox and now Jim Leonhard] and stayed just as good. No matter who's in the game, you always expect them to be where they're supposed to be because they're well coached.... Leonhard will mix up pressure without necessarily blitzing, which is easier to do from a 3--4. He'll bring four with the three down guys and an LB, or the fourth might be a safety or a corner. They'll try to confuse your quarterback while still staying sound in coverage. Leonhard's also going to attack your weakest blocker and try to get him into a one-on-one situation.
BY THE NUMBERS
Average scoring margin for UW in its nine Big Ten wins last season.
Games in which running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for more than 100 yards in 2017, as a freshman.
Trips to Ann Arbor and State College loom as huge obstacles, but the most talented team in coach Paul Chryst's four seasons will make its first playoff.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
* SI PROJECTION
On April 19, Wisconsin tweeted a video from spring practice of receiver QUINTEZ CEPHUS leaping in the back of the end zone and plucking an Alex Hornibrook spiral with his left hand. The reaction from the thousands of viewers: Wooooooaaaaaaah! Everyone knows Jonathan Taylor can run (1,977 yards as a freshman), but the Badgers' offense will be formidable if the receivers can stretch the field. Most important is Cephus (16.7 yards a catch in 2017), who is back after a right-leg injury ended his season last November. With the departure of last year's leader in catches and receiving yards, TE Troy Fumagalli, it's time for the wideouts like Cephus to rise to the occasion.
FRI., AUG. 31
@ IOWA [KEY MATCHUP]
@ MICHIGAN (15) [KEY MATCHUP][SI RANKINGS]
@ PENN STATE (7) [BIGGEST GAME][SI RANKINGS]