To preface: Wisconsin is still Wisconsin. I will let you in on a little secret: their game plan is to run the ball. And then run it some more. And then maybe a little more for good measure.
Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst returns to the cheese state after a hiatus to Pittsburgh with designs on bolstering the Badgers' legendary running game with at least a slightly more serviceable passing offense. He was the coordinator at Wisconsin during the days of Scott Tolzien and Russell Wilson, so Chryst has a solid track record of developing pro-style quarterbacks that excel off of the play-action game.
The Badgers return quarterback Joel Stave for his senior season. Stave had a less-than-stellar junior year after a promising sophomore campaign, but is absolutely entrenched as the main man for the Badgers' offense. The word most commonly used to describe Stave seems to be "inconsistent." He has the ability to be a an effective and capable quarterback, but goes through lapses of accuracy or decision making issues.
At running back, Corey Clement looks to follow in Melvin Gordon's footsteps. Lost in Gordon's record-breaking 2014 campaign was the fact that Clement also got almost 1000 yards as Gordon's back up on an outstanding 6.5 yards per carry. Clement is absolutely ready to be a feature back for Wisconsin, and is a known commodity to all the fans in Madison. Behind Clement, former cornerback Dare Ogunbowale looks to have locked down the relief back for Clement. He is a smaller change of pace back with exceptional speed who will look to gain yardage in chunks as defenders try to catch their breath from the beating they take trying to tackle Clement.
Wisconsin also returns their top receiver from 2014, senior Alex Erickson. Behind Erickson, however, is a bit of a mystery. Former QB Tanner McEvoy has drawn rave reviews in recent weeks, and has worked his way up to being listed as the other starting receiver. The 6'6" positional convert is an exceptional athlete with ridiculous range and speed who may also play safety for the badgers.
While typically a staple of every Wisconsin team, this year's version of the offensive line is a bit of an unknown. Though they do return LT Tyler Marz and C Dan Voltz, the other three will all be unknowns. On top of that, many of the offensive lineman in competition for the other spots have been plagued with the injury bug, and at one point last week, the Badgers were down to a 4th string freshman starting at right tackle. Tight end Troy Fumagali is also currently nursing an ankle injury.
The Badgers will play old school ball, sticking with the run game then throwing it deep over the top in effort to exploit Alabama's weakness from last season. Fortunately, the Alabama defense is at its deepest in the front seven, and should be able to stand strong against the formidable rushing attack. If the Badgers are to score points in this one, Joel Stave and that passing game are going to have to find some explosive plays through the air. Their success in this area will go a long way toward determining their fate.