Top 25 Teams and Games No. 12 Wisconsin
Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 10:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 10:46 p.m.
TEAM NO. 12 — WISCONSIN
The buzz: The Badgers enter the season as Big Ten title contenders, with a smash-mouth squad that relies on running the football early and often.
Difference-maker: Senior All-American tight end Travis Beckum (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) serves as a nice complement to the running game. Beckum caught 75 passes for 982 yards and six touchdowns last season and is more of a hybrid tight end/receiver, versatile and athletic enough to split out on some offensive sets.
The upside: Wisconsin is four-deep at tailback, with junior P.J. Hill (29 TDs, 2,805 yards in two seasons) emerging as a potential star. Guard Kraig Urbik leads an experienced offensive line that consistently opens holes for the running game.
The downside: The quarterback position remains unsettled, with fifth-year senior Allan Evridge and junior Dustin Sherer battling for the job. Neither are expected to make a huge impact. The defense has potential to be improved, but will rely on three starters (tackle Jason Chapman, cornerback Allen Langford and cornerback Aaron Henry) who missed the spring while recovering from knee surgeries.
Schedule factor: After three light non-conference games to open the season (including a road trip to Fresno State), Wisconsin will need to raise its intensity quickly in conference play. The Badgers open the Big Ten schedule at Michigan, then host Ohio State and Penn State in back-to-back games. If Wisconsin survives the early tests, it could turn into a special season in Madison.
GAME NO. 12 — KANSAS AT OKLAHOMA
Where: Norman, Okla.
When: Oct. 18.
Why it's sexy: Kansas was better known for its basketball program before coach Mark Mangino led the Jayhawks to a 12-1 season and a BCS bowl berth. Now the upstart Jayhawks will try to prove to traditional Big 12-power Oklahoma that last season wasn't a fluke.
Preseason buzz: Oklahoma and Kansas are both projected as preseason Top 25 teams. But the two teams missed facing each other last season when Kansas failed to make the Big 12 title game. That makes this season's matchup even more intriguing.
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