2012 Preseason Football Magazine Review: Phil Steele

It’s time we continue our look at the annual tradition that is the College Football Preview magazine as last week we looked at what Lindy’s had to say about the Badgers and the Big Ten.  Today it’s another one’s turn in the hot seat.

Ahhh, it’s finally in my hands… The end-all-be-all of college football preview magazines – Phil Steele’s 2012 College Football Preview.  For those in the know this is the one preview magazine that ranks above any other.  It’s simple, yet complex, and it’s the college football geek’s dream because it’s full of actual data and reasoning.  

Gone are most of the fluffy writing as he doesn’t waste time on vast prose or lots of gimmicks.  It’s all about the FOOTBALL for Phil Steele, heck pick up the magazine and you’ll see every single word written by the man himself.  It also happens to have the most accurate predictions of any magazine in the country and it’s not exactly easy to do.

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So, needless to say when I got my hands on a copy today I was very excited to break this down from a Badgers perspective, so let’s go ahead and dig right in.  

WARNING: This one is full of information, so if you don’t like tons of information this may not be for you… But you are reading this, so I doubt this is an issue.

Overall: Steele ranks the Badgers 9th in the nation and here’s how the Big Ten shapes up for Phil:

Legends Division: 

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers

1. Michigan Wolverines

1. Michigan State Spartans

4. Iowa Hawkeyes

5. Northwestern Wildcats

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Leaders Division: 

1. Wisconsin

1. Ohio State Buckeyes 

3. Illinois

4. Purdue

5. Penn State

6. Indiana

Big Ten Championship Game: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin – Wisconsin wins

- One of the most interesting things I see in this list is how low Penn State is rated.  The mainstream convention is that they’ll be the 3rd best team in the division, but Steele doesn’t see it mainly because of just 9 returning starters and the HC change, predicting a sub .500 B1G record.  The only other thing that jumps out at me is having Nebraska winning the Legends Division after a tie-breaker (overall record is the tie-breaker FYI) because of a softer non-conference schedule.  There will be more on that issue later. 

Bowl Game: Rose Bowl – Wisconsin vs. USC

Honor Roll (AA’s & A-B1G): 

1st Team All-American – Montee Ball (RB), Ricky Wagner (OT)

3rd Team All-American – Travis Frederick (C)

1st Team All-Big Ten - Montee Ball (RB), Jared Abbrederis (WR, PR), Travis Frederick (C), Ricky Wagner (OT), Mike Taylor (LB), Chris Borland (LB)

2nd Team All-Big Ten - Jacob Pederson (TE)

3rd Team All-Big Ten - Shelton Johnson (S)

4th Team All-Big Ten - James White (RB)

- Individual Player Rankings: (Draft Eligible Players Only): 

   - Top 60 QB’s: #45 Danny O’Brien

   - Top 60 RB’s: #2 Montee Ball (SR), #29 James White (JR)

   - Top 70 WR’s: #33 Jared Abbrederis (JR – also #14 Punt Returner)

   - Top 40 TE’s: #21 Jacob Pederson (JR)

   - Top 40 Centers: #4 Travis Frederick (JR)

   - Top 60 Tackles: #2 Ricky Wagner (SR)

   - Top 60 DE’s: #49 David Gilbert (SR)

   - Top 60 DT’s: #39 Jordan Kohout (JR)

   - Top 50 ILB’s: #11 Chris Borland (JR)

   - Top 70 OLB’s: #9 Mike Taylor (SR)

   - Top 70 CB’s: #39 Marcus Cromartie (SR), #63 Devin Smith (SR)

- Unit Rankings: 

   - RB’s are #1 in the nation, the O-Line ranks #14, and LB’s rank #9 in the nation

Musings & Notes: 

- Wisconsin had the 26th best recruiting class in the country and 3rd best class in the Big Ten according to Phil Steele, with Bart Houston (#17 QB), Vonte Jackson (#22 RB), Dan Voltz (#21 OL), Walker Williams (#57 OL), Vince Biegel (#6 LB), and DJ Singleton (#36 DB) all earning 2012 Top 500 Freshman honors.  One thing I really like about this is it doesn’t take in to account the quantity of players signed (which always is the case for rivals, scout, and 247sports) but rather the strength of the Top 5 signees, the Top 10 signees and the average grade per player for the overall class.  In that case you can see why the Badgers ranked so high on his list.

- In Phil Steele’s NCAA Experience Chart the Badgers rank 8th in the Big Ten with just 52.8 points (it’s a complicated system that takes in to account a formula based on Seniors in the two deep, returning letterman and more – another reason I suggest buying the magazine)

- The Badgers are rated as Phil Steele’s #4 Surprise Team in the country.  Steele’s surprise teams list is made up of the 10 teams he thinks have a chance at surprising people and becoming Top 10 teams by the end of the season that won’t start out the season inside the AP Top 10.  Coming in first on that list are the Texas Longhorns and you’d think at some point with the amount of recruited “talent” they have on the team year in and year out they should get back to the top of the heap at some point, right?

- Steele also attempts to answer the age old question of which conference is toughest and to no one’s surprise it’s the SEC and Big 12 at the top.  However, the Pac-12 ranks 3rd ahead of the Big Ten which I find a bit interesting, until you look at how bad the bottom of the Big Ten is compared to the bottom of the Pac-12.  Hey, at least we aren’t the ACC right?

- We mentioned earlier that in Phil Steele’s magazine the Badgers rank 9th, however in his power poll (which is more of a rating of the talent on the team) Wisconsin ranks 13th in the country, so not much off of where Phil thinks the Badgers will end up at the end of the season.

- In our last look at the Lindy’s magazine we took a huge look at where the Badgers strength of schedule ranks based off of the rankings, but according to Phil Steele Wisconsin ranks 56th in terms of Strength of Schedule (which is a measure of the opponents winning %).  Only Iowa’s schedule ranks worse than Wisconsin’s, coming in at #68 on the list.  It still reinforces the point that if the Badgers want to take that next step to be a national power they really do need to play a better non-conference schedule and not wait until the Pac-12/Big Ten agreement takes shape either.  I mean that doesn’t take place for another 5 years and if by then we haven’t done it I have a feeling you’ll see Wisconsin becoming kind of a running joke in terms of being taken as serious contenders.  Well, because of that and if they continue to flop in chances like the Rose Bowl.

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Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college football for nearly half a decade. He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com

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