Big Ten Football: 2015 preseason power rankings

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Oct 19, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Corey Clement (6) and tight end Austin Traylor (46) celebrate a touchdown with teammates during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin wins 56-32 over Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

When Joel Stave became Wisconsin’s quarterback a couple years ago, people were confused as to why a true freshman was chosen to lead a legitimate Big Ten title contender. He did the job and helped to lead the Badgers to a Rose Bowl in his first season before Bret Bielema took off for Arkansas‘ vacant head coaching position.

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The next year was his best as Stave passed for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Wisconsin, under the reign of Gary Andersen, to the Capital One Bowl and a nine-win season.

However, 2014 wasn’t so kind to Stave as he struggled to gain any confidence throughout the year, passing for just 1,350 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions after missing the first four games of the season.

Now on his third head coach since becoming the Badgers’ starter, Stave is poised to have his best season yet and bring Wisconsin back to the forefront of the Big Ten.

Spartan Avenue experts believe that the Badgers are the conference’s third-best squad, even after losing Melvin Gordon. With the loss of the All-Big Ten running back comes another solid producer in the backfield in Corey Clement.

As long as the Badgers have solid running backs, which seems to be always, they will be Big Ten title contenders.

Next: No. 2 Michigan State