The Wisconsin Badgers open their 2014 Football campaign on Saturday night--so that means it's time for my annual pre-season predictions.
---The Badgers open with a toughie this year, traveling to Houston to take on LSU. Much has been made about Wisconsin's struggles with the SEC over the past decade and unfortunately, I think that continues this weekend. Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement rush for over 100-yards apiece in this one--as Head Coach Gary Anderson can't decide on a quarterback and comes out in the Single Wing directly snapping it to one of his halfbacks on every play. But the inexperience defense (and special teams) give up too many big plays and the Tigers win 38-28.
---Bucky bounces back the next week as Melvin Gordon rushes for 250-yards and Corey Clement goes over a hundred as the Badgers stomp Western Illinois at home 45-20.
--After a week off, the Badgers face a tough battle against a solid Bowling Green at Camp Randall. Gordon goes for two bills again, CC for hondo and Wisconsin holds on late 37-34.
--The Badgers wrap up the non-conference schedule with a walk over South Florida as Melvin Gordon breaks the 200-yard mark again--as does Corey Clement--and it's UW 49-20.
--Enough with the warm up games, it's time to play some Big Ten Football as the Badgers travel to take on Northwestern. Wisconsin always struggles with the Wildcats stupid Spread Option Offense--but Coach Anderson has things figured out--just run the ball on every play and keep it away from the 'Cats. Melvin Gordon with 300-yards in this one and the Badgers outgun them 56-48.
---After that track meet, the Badgers catch a break with a terrible Illinois team. MG gets 200 IN THE FIRST HALF and Wisconsin cruises at home 41-17.
---And then comes the stupid part of the season, as Wisconsin hosts Maryland as a "Big Ten Rival" for the first time ever. Why Maryland is in the Big Ten is beyond me. (Actually, I do know--it's all about the money). Wisconsin is able to overcome the confusion caused by the ugliest jerseys in college football and they roll the Terrapins 37-19--with Melvin Gordon getting his expected 200 yards again.
---The Badgers complete the back-to-back run of Teams That Don't Belong In The Big Ten with a 63-7 rout of Rutgers in New Jersey. MG gets a buck-fifty in the first half and rests--allowing Corey Clement to go over 200-yards for the first time.
---Back to "real" Big Ten teams after that with a trip to Purdue. The Badgers struggle here but whomever has won the quarterback position by default by this time sneaks one in from a yard out in the final minute and Wisconsin win 47-40. Gordon and Clement each over 150-yards rushing.
---Then Nebraska comes to Camp Randall. The over-rated CornShuckers will be talking big all week--and then watching now-Heisman Trophy Candidate Melvin Gordon running past them all day for over 200 and the Badgers win 30-14.
---By this time Wisconsin's 9-game winning streak and Gordon's phenomenal season of being the Badgers only offensive weapon will be garnering national attention. He'll be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. ESPN College Gameday will be in Iowa City. And then both he and Corey Clement will get hurt and the Hawkeyes will upset the Badgers 31-14 to end all talk of National Championship in Madison.
---The Badgers bounce back the final week of the regular season because MInnesota comes to town for their annual whipping in the Paul Bunyan's Axe game. Wisconsin makes it ELEVEN IN A ROW!! Yes, ELEVEN IN A ROW!! 77-7
---With a 7-1 record, the Badgers win the Western Division (THANK YOU FOR DIVISIONAL ALLIGNMENT AND NAMES THAT MAKE SENSE!!) and advance to the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State. The Spartans play 11 in the box to take away the running game and the third string walk on who beat out Joel Stave and Tanner MacAvoy to be the starter by this point of the season can't get it done and the Badgers lose 10-7.
---Despite rushing for more than 2000 yards, Melvin Gordon loses the Heisman Trophy to some quarterback that plays the spread and threw for 8000-yards and 100-touchdowns.
----It's back to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl for Wisconsin on New Year's Day. SEC 3rd place team Auburn awaits them (the conference placing two teams in the first ever Playoff games). Melvin Gordon wraps up his Badger career with 250-yards--but it's all for naught as the defense gets torched by the Tigers speed again and Wisconsin loses 38-35.
This solid season could go out the window if Coach Anderson decides to throw the ball more than 10 times in any game--since he has nobody that can throw accurately and nobody who can get open and catch the ball. It might be boring to run every down--but far fewer bad things can happen.