Advertisement

Where Wisconsin football finished in every AP Poll since 2000

Wisconsin football has had a pair of successful decades across multiple regimes. Now, the Badgers turn towards a new coaching staff under Luke Fickell as Wisconsin looks to return to where it was just a few short years ago.

Expectations are a funny thing in college football. We have the AP Poll released before anybody has played a single game, and that creates buzz around certain teams headed into the year. Some teams live up to their hype, and others fail to reach it. Then you have situations like TCU in 2022, where a team that started the year unranked in the AP Poll goes on a Cinderella run to the College Football Playoff.

For Wisconsin, there have been years where the Badgers come from out of nowhere to rise up the polls and others where they fall short of preseason expectations.

Here is a look back at every AP Poll start and finish for Wisconsin football since 2000:

2000

Started: No. 4

Finished: No. 23

Wisconsin started the 2000 season with sky-high expectations. A 3-0 start that included a win over Oregon had Badger fans filled with high hopes. That 3-0 start came to a crashing halt with three straight losses to pull Wisconsin all the way out of the rankings. The year did end on a positive note with a Sun Bowl win over UCLA.

2001

Started: No. 22

Finished: Unranked

Wisconsin began the 2001 season 1-2, with a pair of losses to ranked opponents in Oregon and Fresno State. The Badgers failed to qualify for a bowl game, finishing 5-7 on the year.

 

2002

Started: No. 25

Finished: Unranked

Despite finishing the year unranked, Wisconsin did qualify for a bowl game in their 8-6 campaign. The Badgers defeated Colorado in overtime to become Alamo Bowl champions.

 

2003

Started: No. 21

Finished: Unranked

The Badgers once again snuck into a bowl game, going 7-6 on the year. This time they fell short, as Auburn took down Wisconsin in the Music City Bowl.

 

2004

Started: No. 21

Finished: No. 17

Improvement! Finally, a year where Wisconsin finished the year with a better ranking than they started it with. The 2004 Badgers turned a corner, going 9-3 before falling to Georgia in the Outback Bowl.

 

 

2005

Started: Unranked

Finished: No. 15

Another year of climbing the rankings for Wisconsin. The Badgers finished the year 10-3 and took home the Capital One Bowl with a 24-10 win over Auburn.

 

2006

Started: No. 25

Finished: No. 7

2006 was a dream campaign for Wisconsin, as they climbed all the way to No. 7 in the polls. They took home the Capital One Bowl with a win over Arkansas to finish it off.

 

2007

Started: No. 7

Finished: No. 24

The Badgers had sky-high expectations after a 12-1 2006 campaign. Wisconsin failed to live up to those, as they season turned during a two-game losing streak in October. It ended with an Outback Bowl loss to Tennessee.

 

2008

Nov 15, 2008; Madison, WI, USA; Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber (8) rushes with the football as Wisconsin defensive back Allen Langford (17) tries to make the tackle during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2008; Madison, WI, USA; Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber (8) rushes with the football as Wisconsin defensive back Allen Langford (17) tries to make the tackle during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Started: No. 13

Finished: Unranked

After a 3-0 non-conference start, Big Ten play proved to be a disaster. Wisconsin lost their first four Big Ten games, and fell to Florida State in the Citrus Bowl.

2009

August 30, 2008; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers tight end Garrett Graham (89) celebrates his first quarter touchdown catch against the Akron Zips at Camp Randall Field in Madison, WI. Wisconsin defeated Akron 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
August 30, 2008; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers tight end Garrett Graham (89) celebrates his first quarter touchdown catch against the Akron Zips at Camp Randall Field in Madison, WI. Wisconsin defeated Akron 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Started: Unranked

Finished: No. 16

The Badgers started unranked but put together a 10-3 season before taking down Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl. They finished the year winning five of their last six games.

2010

Bret Bielema
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and the Badgers take the field prior to a game against Northern Iowa at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 1, 2012. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Started: No. 12

Finished: No. 7

Bret Bielema’s Badgers made it all the way to the Rose Bowl before losing a heartbreaker to TCU. The Badgers finished 11-2 and went 7-1 in the Big Ten.

 

2011

Started: No. 11

Finished: No. 10

Remember the legends and leaders divisions? What a strange era of Big Ten football. Wisconsin won the leaders division and earned the right to play Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks took down the Badgers in another close one in Pasadena.

 

2012: No. 12

Started: No. 12

Finished: Unranked

The Badgers struggled to an 8-6 record on the year and went just 4-4 in the Big Ten. Thanks to Ohio State and Penn State both being ineligible for the conference championship game, Wisconsin was able to represent the Big Ten Leaders and took down Nebraska in Indianapolis.

2013: No. 23

Started: No. 23

Finished: No. 22

Chris Borland led a tough Wisconsin defense to a 9-4 record on the year in Gary Andersen’s premier campaign as head coach. The Badgers fell to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

 

2014

Started: No. 14

Finished: No. 13

Melvin Gordon tore up the Big Ten as Wisconsin went 7-1 in conference. The Badgers joyride came to an abrupt end in the Big Ten championship as Ohio State destroyed Wisconsin in a 59-0 shutout.

2015

Paul Chryst
Paul Chryst

Started: No. 20

Finished: No. 21

The beginning of the Paul Chryst tenure saw Wisconsin go 10-3 overall. The Badgers took down USC in the Holiday Bowl.

2016

Started: No. 10

Finished: No. 9

The Badgers hovered around the top ten all year, finishing 11-3 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten. Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph continued to find success for the Badgers.

2017

Nov 26, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Started: No. 9

Finished: No. 7

Welcome to the defensive coordinator role Jim Leonhard. The Badgers used their defense to have a 13-1 year and finish 9-0 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin came within one possession of a College Football Playoff berth, falling to Ohio State in the Big Ten title.

2018

Paul Chryst
Paul Chryst

Started: No. 4

Finished: Unranked

Wisconsin had all the hype after an amazing 2017 season. A home loss to BYU put an end to all their hopes for a College Football Playoff berth.

2019

MADISON, WI – SEPTEMBER 01: Alex Hornibrook #12 of the Wisconsin Badgers hands the ball off to Jonathan Taylor #23 in the third quarter against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 1, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI – SEPTEMBER 01: Alex Hornibrook #12 of the Wisconsin Badgers hands the ball off to Jonathan Taylor #23 in the third quarter against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 1, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Started: No. 19

Finished: No. 11

Alex Hornibrook and the Badgers looked to bounce back and did so. They went 10-4 overall and finished the year in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. They came up just short in Pasadena.

2020

Started: No. 12

Finished: No. 25

Hello, Graham Mertz. Once the season was confirmed to actually happen, Mertz started as well as you could ask for. Things slowly started to unravel after that opening game against Illinois and Wisconsin finished 4-3 in the COVID-19 season.

2021

Started: No. 12

Finished: Unranked

Braelon Allen’s coming out party as a true freshman led Wisconsin to a Las Vegas Bowl win over Arizona State.

2022

Oct 1, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst looks on during the third quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst looks on during the third quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Started: No. 18

Finished: Unranked

The Paul Chryst and Graham Mertz era came to an end in 2022, and Wisconsin will now turn towards Luke Fickell to lead the way. Fickell and Jim Leonhard combined to help Wisconsin take down Oklahoma State in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire