The Friday before Labor Day brings my annual predictions for the Wisconsin Badger's upcoming season. With a new coach, the loss of one of the best running backs the program has ever produced and four new starters on the offensive line, there is plenty of uncertainty about this team--and so I am lowering my expectations.
Week 1 vs Alabama in Dallas--The Crimson Tide is fast, physical and deep on both sides of the ball. I'm hoping this one doesn't turn ugly early--but it will be a rude awakening for Badgers as they lose on Saturday 38-20.
Week 2 vs Miami (Ohio)--I think the Badgers are able to hold off the Red Hawks at Camp Randall as Corey Clement establishes himself as Wisconsin's next premier running back--34-20.
Week 3 vs Troy--The Trojans are one of those teams that always seem to be playing in a post-New Year's Day bowl game in some Podunk city--but they aren't that good. Corey Clement has another nice day running the ball and the Badgers win 38-13.
Week 4--vs Hawaii--It would be awesome if this game was in Honolulu instead of Madison and I was able to get the Radio Ranch to cover the cost of covering it in person--plus an entire week beforehand and another week after for "research". Anyways, Badgers win a close one over the Warriors, 27-24.
Week 5--vs Iowa--Now the games actually mean something as the Badgers open Big Ten play against the Hawkeyes. Iowa is still down in terms of talent and Wisconsin uses the home field advantage to grind out a 24-20 win.
Week 6--at Nebraska. Now would be a great time to remind everyone that Melvin Gordon ran for an NCAA record 408-yards against the Cornhuskers last year. Unfortunately, he is in San Diego now. Nebraska gets a measure of revenge with a 31-27 win.
Week 7 vs Purdue. The Boilermakers have no talent, Bucky gets back on the winning track 41-26.
Week 8 at Illinois--The Illini fired their coach a week before the season started. They should be in full-on dumpster fire mode by this point in the season. The Badgers get their first road win of the year--36-17.
Week 9 vs Rutgers--The Scarlet Knights have no reason to be in the Big Ten (well besides money). Wisconsin rolls 44-20.
Week 10--at Maryland--The Terrapins have no reason to be in the Big Ten (well besides money). Wisconsin squeaks this one out 20-17.
Week 11 vs Northwestern--The last three Badgers head coaches have struggled to figure out how to beat the Wildcats. But home field (and hopefully cold winter weather will derail the spread offense). Bucky wins again 48-44.
Week 12 at Minnesota--This is where I remind everyone that the Badgers have won the last ELEVEN GAMES IN A ROW AGAINST THE GOPHERS. Allow me to repeat that, THE LAST ELEVEN GAMES IN A ROW. I know this domination can't continue forever and that the Gophs have to win Paul Bunyan's Axe at least once every two decades, but I'm going to hope for one more choke job by Goldy and a 28-27 Badgers win.
Thanks to the lack of any really good teams in the Big Ten West, the Badgers make the Conference Championship game again in December--where they meet Number 1 and undefeated Ohio State. remember this same match up last year? Well I don't see any reason this game won't be pretty much the same. Badgers lose 49-10.
That sends Wisconsin to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando on New Year's Day--in a rematch against Alabama. It may be four months later--but the result will be the same, The Tide rolls 38-20.