Wisconsin opponent watch: Purdue week

Michael Hickey

A look ahead at Wisconsin's remaining opponents, including this week's game against Purdue, AND WE'RE MOST CERTAINLY NOT TALKING ABOUT OHIO STATE.

I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT LAST WEEK

hahahahahahaha, nope nope nope

WHERE WE'RE GOING

Purdue (1-2, 0-0), Sept. 21

Last week: Notre Dame 31, Purdue 24

What happened: A moral victory! I predicted blood in this space last week, and while Louis Nix did have a field day helping hold the Purdue running game to 1.8 yards per carry, the passing game actually showed life. Rob Henry isn't dead yet, and in fact is quite alive and somehow still in school. His 256 yards passing were a career high. The last and only either time he topped 200 yards passing was in 2010 (!) during the Boilermakers' season finale against Indiana. He threw for three touchdowns and one interception in both games, which is weird.

Henry's performance Saturday was impressive against what was a championship-caliber defense last season, but also puzzling given how poorly he played in Purdue's first two games. Both Notre Dame and Michigan are either horribly overrated or were very hungover this past weekend. It's about 50-50 at this point.

Why you should be afraid: I've never taken a statistics class, but I don't think one game constitutes a trend. BUT IF IT DID, Purdue would clearly be trending upwards. Last week, it was a horrible team sandwiched dangerously between two marquee opponents, and this week the Boilers are less horrible but still in the middle of the aforementioned dangerous sandwich.

Why you shouldn't: Wisconsin is pissed, yo.

Hubris: My world will collapse if Wisconsin loses this game, so let's say Wisconsin wins by 20 points for my sake, okay?

@ Ohio State (3-0, 0-0), Sept. 28

This week: THEY PLAY FLORIDA A&M. BORING.

Last week: YOU CAN'T MAKE ME LOOK AHEAD, YOU HEAR? THE BUCKEYES BEAT CAL 52-34.

What happened: NO WAY BUSTER. YA GOTTA TAKE 'EM ONE GAME AT A TIME, THAT'S WHAT M'COACH ALWAYS USED TO SAY. WHO GIVES A DARN TOOT THAT KENNY GUITON ACCOUNTED FOR 370 YARDS OF OFFENSE AND FOUR TOUCHDOWNS. NEVER HEARD OF 'IM. SORRY, I DON'T KNOW WHERE JORDAN HALL IS ON CAMPUS, OR WHY A BUILDING WOULD HAVE 168 YARDS RUSHING AND THREE TOUCHDOWNS AGAINST A SHAKY PAC-12 DEFENSE.

Why you should be afraid: WHO'S AFRAID? AFRAID OF WHAT? HOW DO I EVEN KNOW THE WORLD WILL EVEN EXIST AFTER THIS WEEK? TELL ME IT WILL AND I WILL POP YA RIGHT BETWEEN YER EYE BALLS.

Why you shouldn't: YER GOD DAMN RIGHT.

Hubris: OHIO STATE CAN GO TO HELL.

Northwestern (3-0, 0-0), Oct. 12

This week: Maine

Last week: Northwestern 38, Western Michigan 17

What happened: Northwestern looked rusty early. Kain Colter threw an interception on the very first play of the game and the Wildcats actually went down 3-0. They were down 10-7, too, before reeling off 17 straight in the second quarter to put the game out of reach.

It was one of those sleepy wins that good teams have against bad teams, and that still feels weird coming from Northwestern. Glopknar took the week off, which should tell you everything you need to know.

Why you should be afraid: Rodger Sherman at Sippin' On Purple posited that Northwestern is the best team in the Legends Division like it's a serious question. In my mind there's no question about it. Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State have all looked achingly bad at some point and the Wildcats haven't. Northwestern is the cream of that crop, with an offense that scores points and a defense that make opponents do stupid things.

Why you shouldn't: I'm reverse-jinxing the shit out of this game.

Hubris: Reverse-jinxing always works, so we're pretty good there. Besides, it's not like Wisconsin has anything big going on between now and kickoff.

@ Illinois (2-1, 0-0), Oct. 19

This week: Miami (of the state of Ohio)

Last week: Washington 34, Illinois 24

What happened: Okay, so I think we can definitively say that Illinois is non-awful. After entering the season with some predicting they'd be THE basement team of the Big Ten, the Illini have now blown out a decent Cincinnati team and held strong late against a ranked Washington squad. That's enough progress to significantly cool Tim Beckman's seat.

That doesn't mean they're good, per say. Against Washington, there's no denying Illinois was outplayed. The Huskies outgained the Illini 615-327, and Nathan Scheelhaase reverted back to his crappy self, going 9-of-25 passing for 156 yards (with 72 yards coming on one play), one touchdown and an interception.

Why you should be afraid: Scheelhaase could play like he did against Cincinnati.

Why you shouldn't: Scheelhaase could play like he did against Washington.

Hubris: Good on the Illini to show signs of life this season. This has a chance to be a very competitive game, especially on the road at night. But, like, Wisconsin is still better.

@ Iowa (2-1, 0-0), Nov. 2

This week: Western Michigan (side note: How did the Big Ten coordinate non-con opponents so well?)

Last week: Iowa 27, Iowa State 21

What happened: Come one! Come all! To a spoooooky spectacular in the uncharted cornfields of America's most hauntable state. Cower before running backs who average 4.1 yards per carry. Grab your mum as two teams score an appropriate number of point against one another, then shake hands after. You've never seen a quarterback performance so wondrous, so terrifying, so ... serviceable! Buy your tickets now. Children under 10 will not be admitted. No one will be admitted after supper.

Why you should be afraid: Playing at Kinnick makes this game dangerous, and Wisconsin might do something dumb like look ahead.

Why you shouldn't: Iowa hasn't shown anything that will keep you awake for nights on end. The best thing to be said about this football team at this juncture is that it's average.

Hubris: Leaves will be falling, the air will be crisp and there will be a lot of boring football on the television. I'm predicting that more people will take naps on Nov. 2 than on any other date on the calendar this year.

BYU (1-1), Nov. 9

This week: Utah

Last week: BYE

What happened: BYU didn't play last week, dummy. (I may have screwed this up last week).

Why you should be afraid: They emasculated Texas.

Why you shouldn't: Apparently that's not all that difficult.

Hubris: Wisconsin wins, 33-32, when Big Ten referees award just one-point for BYU's apparent game-winning field goal due to the kick's low degree of difficulty. When BYU coaches protest the refs put on night masks and curl under sleeping bags at midfield. #karma

Indiana (2-1, 0-0), Nov. 16

This week: Missouri

Last week: Indiana 42, Bowling Green 10

What happened: Indiana faced a normal offense this week and looked like a pretty good team as a result. Bowling Green was actually projected to finish high-ish in the MAC this season.

The Hoosiers did not give up an offensive touchdown during the game, which is surprising given that they gave up 409 total yards of offense. In any case, Indiana's offense did more than enough to outpace Bowling Green's. Nate Sudfeld had 335 yards on just 17-of-26 passing, throwing two touchdowns. The Hoosiers could have put more points on the board, but had two drives end on fourth downs at the 1-yard line.

Why you should be afraid: Another obnoxious quick-strike passing attack that could frustrate Wisconsin's secondary again.

Why you shouldn't: Indiana isn't Arizona State, I don't think.

Hubris: Wisconsin usually beats Indiana by a lot of points so let's just assume it's going to do that again.

@ Minnesota (3-0, 0-0), Nov. 23

This week: San Jose State

Last week: Minnesota 29, Western Illinois 12

What happened: Minnesota won, which is well and good. Unfortunately, the proceeding were marred by Jerry Kill's fourth seizure in three years. We wish him all the best in his recovery, obviously.

As for notable performances, freshman Mitch Leidner stepped into the game at quarterback and went 7-of-8 passing for 105 yards in place of an injured Philip Nelson. Of course, he had the benefit of Western Illinois selling out to stop the run. The Gophers rushed 49 times for 213 yards during the game.

Why you should be afraid: Minnesota is slowly but surely gaining momentum. The defense now has a good game under its belt.

Why you shouldn't: They won by 17 over Western Illinois.

Hubris: Nine straight? Nine straight.

Penn State (2-1, 0-0), Nov. 30

This week: Kent State

Last week: Penn State 31, UCF 34

What happened: Blake Bortles happened. One of Seventeen Magazine's hottest hotties in college football had a nice day through the air against the Nittany Lions, going 20-of-27 for 288 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Knights actually led comfortably for most of the game, with a late Penn State score accounting for tight final margin.

The upshot for Penn State is that Christian Hackenberg is still playing very well as a true freshman. The offense still has weapons with Zach Zwinak and Allen Robinson. The defense ... may be a problem.

Why you should be afraid: Penn State has a lot of young pieces, and it should be playing much better by the time the end of the season comes around.

Why you shouldn't: The team may also be weary by Nov. 30 due to a lack of depth.

Hubris: If Penn State is all that stands between Wisconsin and another berth in the Big Ten Championship game, I'm confident that the Badgers pull off the win.

WHERE WE'VE BEEN

UMass (0-3, 0-0)

Poor damn UMass. The Minutemen are still searching for their first win of the season after losing to Kansas State 37-7 last weekend.

Tennessee Tech (2-1, 0-0)

The good news: Tech is one win away from matching the 2012 win total! The bad news: The Golden Eagles started last season 2-0 and still managed to finish 3-8. They play those jerks from Tennessee State this week.

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