With just a week left until we can really start talking about the upcoming season -- Big Ten media days -- we’re scrambling for some actual football discussion. So, to borrow an idea from our pals at the Pac-12 blog, we’re putting together the “All-Century” teams for every Big Ten school.
These are the top lineups each team could field consisting of players who have played since 2000. Next up is Wisconsin.
QB Russell Wilson: The superstar passer’s stint with the Badgers wasn’t long, but he only needed a single season to rewrite the record books and toss 31 touchdowns before moving on to start his decorated NFL career.
RB Montee Ball: Few programs can match Wisconsin’s historical depth chart at tailback, and Ball left his mark as one of the best the school ever had -- thanks mostly to his mind-blowing total of 84 touchdowns.
RB Melvin Gordon: After waiting for his turn to take over in the backfield, Gordon made the most of his shot in the featured role for the Wisconsin attack during a 2014 campaign that included 2,587 dizzying yards rushing.
WR Lee Evans: The Badgers may be known best for their rushers, but Evans did all he could to change that as the game-changing weapon set a school record with 3,468 career receiving yards and hauled in 27 touchdowns.
WR Jared Abbrederis: After starting his career as a walk-on afterthought, Abbrederis finished it second only to Evans on the career yardage list. More than a great story, Abbrederis was one of the most difficult assignments for opposing cornerbacks in the Big Ten in 2013.
TE Travis Beckum: The talented target burst onto the scene with 136 catches during his first two seasons with the Badgers, finding the end zone 11 times and providing a dangerous dynamic to complement that famous rushing attack.
OL Joe Thomas: One of the better blockers ever to suit up in the Big Ten, Thomas claimed the Outland Trophy in 2006 before heading to the next level and continuing to prove that few lineman can match his size, technique and athleticism.
OL Gabe Carimi: Another major award winner in the trenches, Carimi added to Wisconsin’s trophy case by following in the footsteps of Thomas in 2010 with an Outland of his own.
OL Peter Konz: The reliable center marked himself as one of the best players in the nation snapping the football in 2011 as a finalist for the Rimington, and his value was well known across the Big Ten.
OL John Moffitt: Twice an all-Big Ten pick and a first-team All-America selection in 2010, the guard was an integral part of keeping that high-powered rushing attack rolling along.
OL Dan Buenning: The big man wrapped up his career with first-team All-America honors in 2004 before hearing his name called by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL draft.
DL J.J. Watt: Before becoming one of the most disruptive defenders the NFL has ever seen, Watt was terrorizing the Big Ten and leading Wisconsin in sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and blocked kicks in 2010.
DL Wendell Bryant: A back-to-back winner of the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year award, Bryant was a wrecking ball on the interior and still ranks fifth in school history with 24 sacks.
DL Erasmus James: The tenacious pass rusher was a finalist for seemingly every major award in 2004, claiming the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award and leading the Badgers with eight sacks before being selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
DL O’Brien Schofield: Only one player in Wisconsin history had a season with more tackles for loss than Schofield posted in 2009, when he was a constant thorn in the side of opponents thanks to his 24.5 takedowns in the backfield.
LB Chris Borland: Pretty much the ideal model for a hard-hitting linebacker, Borland was a three-time pick to the all-conference first team and racked up a Big Ten record 15 forced fumbles.
LB Mike Taylor: Twice an all-Big Ten pick, Taylor was a tackling machine during his career with the Badgers -- leading the team in both 2011 and 2012 with a combined 273 tackles.
LB Joe Schobert: The heart and soul of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the nation in points allowed, Schobert was a force all over the field -- including behind the line of scrimmage, where 19.5 of his tackles were made.
DB Jim Leonhard: Among the most productive, decorated defensive backs the Big Ten has had in recent memory, Leonhard was a three-time selection to the all-conference first team and nabbed an eye-popping 11 interceptions in 2002 alone.
DB Jamar Fletcher: Tied with Leonhard atop the school’s all-time interception leaderboard with 21, Fletcher capped a career that included five returns for touchdown by winning the Thorpe Award.
DB Jack Ikegwuonu: Throwing at the two-time All-Big Ten selection was a bit of a gamble for quarterbacks, and 29 times the football never reached its intended destination thanks to Ikegwuono’s breakups -- the fifth-best mark in Wisconsin history.
DB Antonio Fenelus: Closed his career with back-to-back all-conference nods in the secondary and only seven Badgers ever snagged more interceptions in their careers than Fenelus with his 9.
K Philip Welch: A model of consistency and accuracy, Welch left school ranked No. 2 on both the field goals made and percentage lists for Wisconsin.
P Kevin Stemke: The Ray Guy winner in 2000, Stemke set a single-season school record by booming his punts an average of 44.5 yards per attempt.
KR/PR David Gilreath: The Badgers have a couple other proven weapons in the return game in Abbrederis and Leonhard, but Gilreath makes the roster thanks to the highest mark in kickoff return yardage in school history.