UW Health Sports Medicine 

From humble beginnings

Heading into the 2009 college football season there was not a lot of optimism about the University of Wisconsin from outside sources. Many preseason publications had the Badgers pegged to finish in the middle of the Big Ten and struggle to make it to postseason play.

UW was coming off a 7-6 season and a poor showing in the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl. On top of that, the Badgers had to replace five starters on offense, including leading rusher P.J. Hill, and six starters on defense, including five of the front seven. Add to that, the uncertainty at quarterback, and many people an uneasy feeling heading into the Sept. 5 season-opener vs. Northern Illinois.

Obviously, we all know how the season fared. UW exceeded most expectations, finishing with 10 victories for just the sixth time in school history and ending the season ranked 16th in both national polls. But in the first installment of our five-part 2009 Season in Review, we will take a look at what some people thought of the Badgers heading into the season (thanks to Stassen.com for much of this info).

  • Phil Steele's 2009 College Football Preview: No. 29 overall / T6th in Big Ten - "While not as experienced and perhaps not as talented as the '08 version, they should have a better record."
  • Lindy's College Football Annual: No. 29 overall / 5th in Big Ten
  • Athlon's College Football: No. 42 overall / 7th in Big Ten - "UW's problems were numerous last season, and Bielema and his staff must address another lengthy list of issues before UW can enjoy a turnaround in 2009."
  • SportingNews.com: 8th in Big Ten, 5-7 (3-5) - "Wisconsin's downward trend will continue, and the Badgers will be bowl-less for the first time since 2001."
  • USA Today: 8th in Big Ten
  • Sports Illustrated: 7th in Big Ten
  • CollegeFootballNews.com: T5th in Big Ten - "Team That'll Disappoint: Wisconsin - The running game will be fantastic, as always, the defense will be better, and there will be another trip to a bowl, but it's not going to be the major bounce back season Badger fans are hoping for. The quarterback play needs to be far more effective and far better, while the defensive front has to prove it can handle good running games along with the spread. It won't be an awful campaign, but it won't be special, either."

Stassen.com does a consensus ranking of all the teams and conferences based on a number of preseason prognosticators and UW came in at sixth in the Big Ten. With a 5-3 mark this year, the Badgers tied with Northwestern for fourth in the league.

In the preseason Associated Press poll, 54 teams received at least one vote. Wisconsin was not among them, making them the only team to appear in the final A.P. top 25 after not having received a vote in the preseason poll. The coaches were much kinder to the Badgers, giving them six votes and putting them in a tie for 44th.

It seems like much longer than six months ago that this was the general feeling about Wisconsin football. The purpose of this entry wasn't to point out the fact that so many people were wrong about the season but to put into context what UW accomplished this year. Obviously compared to many of the things being written and said about the Badgers following their win over Miami and heading into the 2010 season, are almost the exact opposite of last offseason. Hopefully they can prove everyone right next season.