Wisconsin football schedule, roster and three things to watch

Wisconsin heads into 2017 looking to get back to the Big Ten championship in Paul Chryst's third season. A spring preview for the Badgers.

It's business as usual for Wisconsin heading into Paul Chryst's third season as head coach.

The Badgers plowed through a ridiculous schedule last season to win the Big Ten West Division before falling 38-31 to Penn State in the Big Ten championship. Wisconsin, however, bounced back to beat Western Michigan 24-16 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Chryst is 21-6 the last two seasons, and with Alex Hornibrook back at quarterback the Badgers will be a popular pick to get back to Indianapolis for another shot at the Big Ten crown.

MORE: Big 10 predictions for 2017

The Badgers are ranked No. 13 in Sporting News' Preseason Top 25, and here's a preview of Wisconsin's 2017 schedule, roster and biggest questions entering the season.

2017 Wisconsin football schedule

Sept. 1: vs. Utah State (Friday)

Sept. 9: vs. Florida Atlantic

Sept. 16: at BYU

Sept. 23: BYE

Sept. 30: vs. Northwestern

Oct. 7: at Nebraska

Oct. 14: vs. Purdue

Oct. 21: vs. Maryland

Oct. 28: at Illinois

Nov. 4: at Indiana

Nov. 11: vs. Iowa

Nov. 18: vs. Michigan

Nov. 25: at Minnesota

Dec. 2: Big Ten championship game

2017 Wisconsin recruiting class

Wisconsin did not have a composite Top 15 recruiting class. The Badgers' class ranked No. 39 on 247Sports.com. Four-star guard Kayden Lyles and four-star receiver Danny Davis are the top recruits in the class.

2017 Wisconsin roster

Wisconsin's fall roster can be found here.

Three things to watch

1. How will the linebackers regroup?

Wisconsin boasted one of the best defenses in the FBS last season, one that allowed just 15.6 points per game. The key was a group of linebackers that didn't miss a lot of tackles. T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel are gone, and Jack Cichy was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Leading tackler T.J. Edwards, who had 89 stops, is the anchor of that unit now. Safety D'Cota Dixon also returns after compiling 60 tackles and four interceptions. The Badgers will have their third defensive coordinator in three years because Justin Wilcox left to take the job at Cal, but there's familiarity with Jim Leonhard moving up from his spot as defensive backs coach.

2. Who are the tackles?

It's arguably the most-important position at Wisconsin, and the standard is always high. Ryan Ramczyk departed for the NFL, and there will be a battle at both spots in the spring. Cole Van Lanen, David Moorman, David Edwards and Jacob Maxwell are in the mix in fall camp. The interior has more experience, but the objective for the Badgers is to mold a Big Ten championship-caliber offensive line that protects Hornibrook and opens up the running game.

3. Who carries the load?

Corey Clement (1,375 yards) and Dare Ogunbowale (506 yards) both are gone, so Bradrick Shaw appears next in line to be tailback at Wisconsin. That's another position that comes with a high standard. Shaw rushed for 457 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season, and he'll have competition from Taiwan Deal, among others. Shaw offered a sign of things to come with 15 carries for 62 yards in the Big Ten championship game. He should be in line for a big season if he takes advantage of it.

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