Though Wisconsin’s football team is not taking the field this weekend, there are still a lot of exciting teams who are continuing their college football season without any hiccups.
While we can’t root for Wisconsin, here are some exciting, appealing teams that Badger fans can stand behind.
The Bulldogs are similar to the Badgers — always a bridesmaid and never the bride. Wisconsin fans can sympathize with the Bulldogs as both teams have struggled to take the next step in becoming the conference’s top dog. Like Wisconsin in the Big Ten West, the Bulldogs have dominated their division, the SEC East.
The problem is both programs have struggled when they face off against the representative of the other division in the conference championship game. Georgia has appeared in four of the last eight SEC Championship games, but they have a dismal 1-3 record in those matchups. Similarly, Wisconsin has lost their last four conference championship matchups.
Both schools have also been running back factories, producing top-tier backs that have gone on to have careers in the NFL — Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for Georgia, James White, Melvin Gordon and Jonathan Taylor for Wisconsin. Georgia fans, we Badgers feel your pain and hope your team finally hurdles that final obstacle and secures the team’s first national championship since 1981.
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Appalachian State Mountaineers
Appalachian State first made headlines in 2007 when they pulled off one of the great upsets in college football history. As a then FCS team, the Mountaineers silenced 110,000 plus fans at the Big House with a historic win over No. 5 Michigan. Since that monumental victory, the program has soared to another level. Last year, the Mountaineers enjoyed a stellar 13-1 season, winning the Sun Belt and finishing ranked No. 20 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Entering 2020, the Mountaineers looked to turn some heads.
Quarterback Zac Thomas is one of college football’s best-kept secrets. In 2019, Thomas threw for 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Thomas also did damage on the ground, scampering for seven rushing touchdowns. A former Sun Belt Conference player of the year, Thomas is poised for a breakout season. Everyone loves an underdog, and the Mountaineers, yet again, are a team that can turn some heads in 2020.
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The Tigers are loaded with talent and again ride a “National Title or bust” mentality heading into the 2020 season. For college football fans, this will likely be the last season to cherish the natural talent of quarterback Trevor Lawrence before he makes his move to the NFL. Lawrence, paired up with two-time ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne — who surprised many by returning to school for his senior year — is one of, if not the most, dynamic tandem in the country.
Though Clemson lost four defensive players to the draft including first-round picks Isaiah Simmons and A.J. Terrell, it’s expected Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables will reload a defense that finished No. 6 nationally in yards allowed per game at 288.3. The strength of Clemson’s defense is their front, led by the mammoth Tyler Davis. In his freshman year, Davis was a second-team All-ACC selection, tallying 5.5 sacks and 51 tackles. The anchor of the defense is linebacker James Skalski, who recorded 105 tackles last season. With an array of talent, the Tigers are a must-watch on television and a favorite to take home their second national championship in three seasons.
North Carolina Tar Heels
If you are looking for an up-and-coming team, the Tar Heels fit the script. In Head Coach Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill in 2019, North Carolina exceeded expectations. From 2018, North Carolina’s win total jumped from two to seven, and the Heels are the most suited team to challenge mighty Clemson in the ACC.
North Carolina can hurt opponents through both the air and the ground. Quarterback Sam Howell is one of the best in the country, and as a freshman threw for 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. In fact, it was Howell, not projected top-pick Trevor Lawrence, who led the ACC in touchdowns. The Tar Heels also use two capable running backs in Michael Carter and Javonte Williams. In 2019, both Carter and Williams rushed for over 900 yards. The Tar Heels are ranked in the preseason polls for the first time since 2016, so it will be interesting to see if this team can contend for an ACC title.
Even if the Badgers don’t take the field this fall, there are still a lot of exciting and alluring teams to follow in 2020. While the Badgers should be everyone’s top choice, these four teams will be electrifying to watch this season.