After three straight Big Ten championships and three straight Rose Bowls, No. 23 Wisconsin looks to extend its winning tradition under the helm of a new head coach. With an 8-6 record in the rearview, the Badgers open up the 2013 season with a home matchup against the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
UMass has developed a strong football tradition which includes a Football Championship Subdivision National Championship in 1998. After a two-year transition period beginning in 2011, the Minutemen are entering their first full Football Bowl Subdivision season.
The offseason did not lack change for the Badgers. Head coach Bret Bielema announced his departure for Arkansas before the Rose Bowl, leaving athletic director and former head coach Barry Alvarez to coach in his stead. Former Utah State head man Gary Andersen was announced as Bielema's replacement, leading to a flurry of staff changes. Now the main headlines surrounding the team involve the unsettled quarterback competition between redshirt senior Curt Phillips and redshirt sophomore Joel Stave. Both players proved effective in the starting role last year, going 6-5 over the last 11 games, winning the Big Ten championship and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl in the process. The duo will also be aided by the return of senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who earned First Team All Big Ten honors last season and starts this year on the Biletnikoff Award watch list.
Even without FBS touchdown leader Montee Ball, Wisconsin looks to build on its traditionally powerful rushing attack. Senior running back James White finally gets the opportunity to be the starter after spending three years at No. 2 on the depth chart. Gordon exploded onto the scene last year with 216 yards in the Big Ten championship game. This year, he will receive an even larger share of the carries.