The Wisconsin Badgers kick off their 2016 season this weekend at Lambeau Field--and I'm not filled with as much optimism for this year as I have been in the past. A killer schedule combined with the first real effects of the poor recruiting from the Gary Anderson years have the Cardinal and White looking at a down year. Let's get to the annual predictions:
Week 1 vs LSU at Lambeau--Wisconsin doesn't have the best of records against SEC opponents in recent years--and Tigers running back Leonard Fornette is a beast. If the Badgers can contain him--and force LSU's shaky quarterback to throw a lot, they can keep it close. Wisconsin loses 24-20.
Week 2 vs Akron. The Zips are not that good. Badgers roll 37-17.
Week 3 vs Georgia State. This will be one of those games that has fans at Camp Randall antsy well in to the 4th quarter--as the Badgers get caught looking ahead to the start of the Big Ten schedule the next week. Bucky edges out the Panthers 34-30.
Week 4 at Michigan State. The Spartans will also be down this year with a new quarterback at the helm--but Wisconsin seems to have no mojo in East Lansing. Costly turnovers will sink the Badgers in this one 21-13.
Week 5 at Michigan. Back to back road games and coming off a loss, Wisconsin doesn't look much sharper at the Big House and lose to the Wolverines (who will win the Big Ten this year, by the way) 38-27.
Week 6 vs Ohio State. Who put together this Big Ten schedule? Badgers fans go into full panic mode following a painfully close loss to the Buckeyes at Camp Randall 34-31.
Week 7 at Iowa. With the media wondering if Wisconsin will even make a bowl game this year, the Badgers somehow find a way to be an Iowa team that I think will be down this year, 24-20.
Week 8 vs Nebraska. Feeling good coming off the road win at Iowa City, Wisconsin uses the friendly confines of Camp Randall to roll over Nebraska 30-10.
Week 9 at Northwestern. Ryan Field has become a house of horrors for the Badgers the past two decades, as shootouts have never seemed to go their way. The same thing happens again as Bucky gets outgunned 48-44.
Week 10 vs Illinois. Finally, one of the crappy teams in the conference! Badgers beat the Illini 38-7.
Week 11 at Purdue. In front of what will likely be a nearly empty stadium in West Lafayette, Wisconsin wins 23-10.
Week 12 vs Minnesota. Now is the time that I like to remind everyone that Wisconsin has retained Paul Bunyan's Axe for TWELVE CONESECUTIVE YEARS--AND 19 OF THE LAST 21 YEARS!!! And there is no way Goldy is coming into Camp Randall on Senior Day and taking it this year. 13 YEARS IN A ROW!!!!! Wisconsin 70, Minnesota 0
With a 7-5 record, Wisconsin makes its first trip to the Quick Lane Bowl in beautiful downtown Detroit, the ultimate December destination. In a game that draws about 8 fans at Ford Field, Wisconsin outmuscles Central Michigan for a 37-27 victory.
Let's hope I'm wrong about that early Big Ten schedule--but I doubt I will be.