Badgers open up at No. 18 in AP preseason football poll

MADISON, Wis. — The Badgers are back in the AP Top 25 after finishing last season unranked.

Wisconsin came in at No. 18 in the preseason poll, behind three Big Ten rivals. Ohio State is ranked No. 2, Michigan is No. 8 and Michigan State is No. 15.

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After being upset in the National Championship game last year, Alabama is back at No. 1. Last year’s champions Georgia came in at No. 3. The SEC has six teams in the Top 25, more than any other conference.

The Badgers are bringing a new-look defense to the field this year after losing stars like Jack Sanborn and Faion Hicks to the NFL.

Still, there will be plenty of faces that fans will remember. Quarterback Graham Mertz is expected to be back under center with star running back Braelon Allen by his side. Running back Chez Mellusi, who was off to a strong season last year before tearing his ACL, is also back.

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The Badgers were just one win away from a Big Ten West title last season and will look to get over that hump and return to the conference title game in Indianapolis. The season starts on September 3 at Camp Randall Stadium when Bucky takes on the Illinois State Redbirds.