Wisconsin enters 2022 coming off of 9 wins and a bowl victory last season. However, the Badgers are still searching for their first B1G West title since 2019 and are itching to get back to Indianapolis.

When ESPN dropped its preseason power rankings, Wisconsin checked in at No. 18 ahead of the season. The Badgers were the fourth B1G team included but the first team out of the West division on the power rankings.

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The power rankings also included the biggest X factor for Wisconsin in 2022. It comes as no surprise, but ESPN included QB Graham Mertz as the X factor this season.

“Wisconsin is still waiting for the highest-rated quarterback recruit in team history to blossom. After struggling with turnovers for most of 2021, Mertz gets a clean slate with new playcaller Bobby Engram, who wants to spice up the Badgers’ passing game. Wisconsin’s defense will always give the team a chance to win the Big Ten West Division, but Mertz will need to deliver in big moments and avoid the mistakes that have surfaced too often.”

Last season, Mertz had more interceptions than touchdowns (11 to 10) and the worst completion percentage of his career at 59.5%. If Wisconsin is going to achieve its goals, Mertz will need to take a step forward, all while working with a younger receiving corps in 2022.