Another preseason top 25 poll was released Wednesday afternoon, but unlike previous ones, it doesn’t have Michigan as the highest-ranked Big Ten team. It has the Wolverines ranked third among Big Ten teams, in fact. Evidently, SI.com is higher on Wisconsin and Michigan State, which it has ranked No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. Michigan comes in at No. 13, while Nebraska (No. 19) and Ohio State (No. 22) round out the Big Ten contingent.
[SI.com: SI's 2012 Preseason Top 25]
Must say, it’s a bigger surprise to see the Badgers ranked where they are than to see them ahead of Michigan State and Michigan. No. 6 seems very high. Still, Wisconsin is the back-to-back reigning Big Ten champ and it features a pretty favorable schedule.
And, most importantly, the Badgers welcome back 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball. The senior running back is as good as any player in the nation, but he may find things a bit tougher this season sans one-year star QB Russell Wilson.
Here’s what SI.com wrote about the Badgers:
“Bret Bielema can afford to be magnanimous because his roster remains well stocked. Star runner Monteé Ball (a Heisman candidate) is joined in the backfield by James White and Melvin Gordon; the latter dominated the spring game with 159 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. The main imponderable is at quarterback, where for the second straight year a transfer from the ACC will take the helm. While Danny O’Brien (formerly of Maryland) lacks the explosiveness of predecessor Russell Wilson, he compares favorably with former Badger Scott Tolzien and will keep Wisconsin’s play-action attack humming.”
Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska’s rankings seem pretty fair. As long as first-year QB Andrew Maxwell can be decent, the Spartans are going to be a very good team; the Wolverines are talented but feature a grueling schedule that could impact their ranking; and Nebraska is always around the 10-win mark under Bo Pelini.
Ohio State, at No. 22, seems a bit low. The Buckeyes are ineligible for postseason play, but they have a talented roster and a head coach who has won two national titles.