What's wrong with Wisconsin?

Montee Ball hasn't had much room to run so far this season. Jaime Valdez/US Presswire

There have been several surprises over the first four weeks of this college football season, but few things have been more unexpected than the mediocre performance of the Wisconsin Badgers' offense.

Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised. The warning signs were there in the offseason. Gone from last year's team:

• All-Big Ten QB Russell Wilson
• Three All-Big Ten offensive linemen
• Four of the five offensive coaches (coordinator Paul Chryst became head coach at Pittsburgh)

Even the loss of Wilson should have been enough to slow the offense, and many teams aren't able to survive collective losses like that, yet a lot of us expected Wisconsin to just keep scoring points this season.

Our unrealistic expectations are a credit to one of the nation's most consistent programs over the last two decades -- built by Barry Alvarez and sustained by Bret Bielema -- that churns out big-time offensive lines and 1,000-yard rushers seemingly every year. But even the best-run programs sometimes have a season when the pieces just don't fit together. That could be the case for the Badgers in 2012.