2020 was a wild and crazy year for the Big Ten football. Teams like Indiana and Northwestern enjoyed historic seasons while Penn State and Michigan had unusually terrible ones. But one college football analyst believes there’s an underrated Big Ten team flying under the radar heading into 2021.
On Monday’s edition of Late Kick Live, analyst Josh Pate put forward Wisconsin as a team that should be ranked much higher in preseason polls. He said that while the Badgers are rated No. 16 in the nation, they may be better than teams like LSU, Cincinnati, Florida, and Notre Dame, among others.
“The reason it’s weird is because we’ve got Wisconsin at No. 16,” Pate said. “How are you going to be uneducated if you’re ranked No. 16? I think they’re better than the 16th best team in the country… LSU, Cincinnati, Florida, Notre Dame, Oregon and Texas A&M. I can see Wisconsin being better than every single one of them, maybe they don’t top any of them, but I see a path where Wisconsin is better than every single one of those teams…”
Pate went on to argue that Wisconsin’s wide receivers room is underrated, as is their quarterback. He believes that QB Graham Mertz may be a star this year now that former starter Jack Coan is gone.
“Wisconsin’s got a sneaky underrated wide receiver room, I think they have a sneaky underrated quarterback. A lot of those Badger fans, even when they had Jack Coan on campus, a lot of them whispered to each other, they never said it out loud but they whispered, ‘Graham Mertz may be better than that Jack Coan character. Now you get to see him, you actually get to see him play Jack Coan this year too.”
Wisconsin went 4-3 overall in 2020, and were just 3-3 in the Big Ten. They ended their season on a high note with a win over Wake Forest in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, but finished outside the top two in the Big Ten West for the first time in Paul Chryst’s tenure.
Their schedule this year will be pretty daunting with Notre Dame and Army on their non-conference schedule. Combine those with the Penn State and Michigan games, and you have a schedule most teams would struggle with.
We’ll find out pretty quickly if the Badgers are up to the task though. They play Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan in the span of just five weeks.
Are Wisconsin the most underrated team in the Big Ten?