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Wisconsin Badgers Opponent Watch: Whee, we get to play Illinois!

After a long week, Wisconsin gets exactly what it needs.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports


So there's these two quarterbacks ...

I hate you

Okay, yeah, let's move on.


Illinois (3-3, 0-2 B1G), Oct. 11

Last week: Lost to Purdue, 38-27

What happened: Basically everything to neatly set up the sort of bowling ball-meet-pins beatdown the Badgers like to lay when their pride has been wounded. Wes Lunt went down, giving Wisconsin a chance to face Illinois program-loiterer and probable next head coach Reilly O'Toole at quarterback. The Illini dutifully tried to get their running backs going, and saw Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young plunk their way to 78 combined yards rushing on 20 carries.

Most importantly, they gave up 349 yards rushing to Purdue. That's 349 yards rushing. Given up to Purdue. Purdue. 349 yards. Rushing. Purdue. Purrrdoooooooooooooo.

Why you should be afraid: Mike Dudek went off, adding to the depth of pass catchers on the offense. Illinois has a ton of good targets if anyone can get them the ball.

Why you shouldn't be afraid: PUR-GODDANG-DUE.

Hubris: I said this might be the game Melvin Gordon eclipses 300 yards a couple weeks back. It would take like 10 Andys (Andies?) to screw this up.

Maryland (4-2, 1-1 B1G), Oct. 25

This week: BYE, neutral site

Last week: Lost to Ohio State, 52-24

What happened: Maryland lost bad, probably well worse than the score indicates. The funny thing (that won't make you laugh at all) is how similar the game was to Wisconsin's own debacle. C.J. Brown, the dual-threat coaches' favorite, was ineffective, so they brought in the pure-passing Caleb Rowe, who got the offense moving in the second half but also threw three interceptions. Maryland's defense got TORCHED to the tune of 533 yards.

Why you should be afraid: We've talked about Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, but have you met Brad Craddockperhaps the best kicker in college football? Craddock is 11-for-11 on field goals this season, including 7-for-7 beyond 40 yards. He nailed a 57-yarder against the Buckeyes. Craddock, along with a strong return unit, makes Maryland's special teams unit a real asset.

Why you shouldn't be afraid: The defense is giving up a cool 451 yards per game. I bet Wisconsin will have solved this whole quarterback controversy thing and we'll all look back on this week and laugh, and laugh, and lauuggghhhh.

Hubris: I think it would take, like, three Andys to screw this up. So pretty safe.

@ Rutgers (4-1, 0-1 B1G), Nov. 1

This week: BYE, push

Last week: Beat Michigan, 26-24

What happened: The defense stifled Michigan, but we're done pretending that means anything. More relevant to our interests was Gary Nova going off for 404 yards and three touchdowns. Michigan's secondary hasn't performed anywhere near its expectations heading into the season, but there is still a reasonable amount of talent in that unit, and all of it looked silly.

Why you should be afraid: Nova may upset about those jokes you were making earlier.

Why you shouldn't be afraid: Nova's big day did nothing to spring the running game, which continues to be a sore spot without Paul James. Desmon Peoples is the de facto lead ball carrier, but at 5'8, 175 pounds, he doesn't much have the frame for a heavy workload. He went for 38 yards on 15 carries against the Wolverines.

Hubris: One Andy could very well screw this up. Maybe an Andy-plus. Andy: Millennium Edition.

@ Purdue (3-3, 1-1 B1G), Nov. 8

This week: Michigan State at home

Last week: Won @ Illinois, 38-27

What happened: Purdue ran for 349 dang yards, well more than its previous season high of 204 yards. The Boilermakers managed 83 yards against Iowa the week before, and 56 yards against Notre Dame two weeks before that.

All that running made things easier for Austin Appleby starting in place of Danny Etling. The sophomore should proooobably stay Purdue's starter going forward after going 15-for-20 for 202 yards and a score, and rushing for 76 yards and two more scores against a terrible, no good defense.

Why you should be afraid: Yeah, Purdue has been bad outside of bowling over Illinois, but its two losses against its two best opponents, Notre Dame and Iowa, were closer than the respective 16- and 14-point margins indicated. There may actually be a tough football team hiding behind all that horrible black and gold. Seriously, what the hell is with that color scheme?

Why you shouldn't be afraid: With bouts against Michigan State, Minnesota and Nebraska laying between now and Nov. 8, Purdue should be properly demoralized before facing Wisconsin.

It would take about seven Andys to mess this up, and we still have just the one.

Hubris: Sleep soundly: It would take about seven Andys to mess this up, and we still have just the one.

No. 21 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 B1G), Nov. 15

This week: @ Northwestern

Last week: Lost @ Michigan State, 27-22

What happened: Nebraska stormed back to close a 27-3 deficit entering the fourth quarter. The Huskers scored on drives of 43 and 68 yards, and another of nine yards that was set up by 62-yard kick return. They were driving with a chance to win with 1:07 left in the game, but Tommy Armstrong threw an interception from Michigan State's 37-yard line to ice the game.

The comeback attempt may say something about Michigan State, which has struggled in the fourth quarter throughout the season, but let's give Nebraska's offense the proper gawking it deserves. For a run-oriented team, one wouldn't expect it to be able to score in bunches as it did against MSU, but Armstrong's arm (and some helpful penalties) bailed them out, and that's something it couldn't rely on much during the Taylor Martinez years.

Why you should be afraid: That hint of offensive depth. Nebraska can sorta, kinda manage if the running game doesn't work as it didn't against Michigan State. There is also something of a defense, and just an overall look of being a real, honest-to-god football team.

Why you shouldn't be afraid: Ameer Abdullah can be neutralized, and that still significantly hamstrings the team. There also a good three quarters against Michigan State when Nebraska looked non-competitive. Was that the real Nebraska, and the fourth quarter just Michigan State getting back to its Sparty Noooooo roots?

Hubris: Have you have noticed that ANDy and ANDersen start with the same three letters can't make this up folks smh barry

@ Iowa (4-1, 1-0 B1G), Nov. 22

This week: Indiana, at home

Last week: Tie with BYE

What happened: The Hawkeyes did not play anyone because they were on a bye, ya dummy.

Otherwise they've been classic Iowa, masters of punts and linebackers.

The run defense may still be the nastiest Wisconsin will face this season.

Why you should be afraid: The defense is giving up just 17.2 points per game, and ranks 14th in the country in defensive efficiency. That number should plummet when Football Outsiders begins adjusting for opponents, but the run defense may still be the nastiest Wisconsin will face this season.

Why you shouldn't be afraid: An offense that is four or five deviations away from "good."

Hubris: On paper, this is a two-Andy game for Wisconsin, but from Iowa's perspective it's like a negative-one Andy, so let's say three Andys would lose this game for the Badgers.

Minnesota (4-1, 1-0 B1G), Nov. 29

This week: Northwestern, at home

Last week: The Gophers ought the BYE and the BYE won (not really, you can't lose on a bye week)

What happened: Look pal, I don't have time for dumb questions.

Why you should be afraid: Minnesota's last game was a thrashing of Michigan, who rebounded nicely to only lose by two points to Rutgers last week and may not have 100 percent collapsed just yet. David Cobb is running the ball like a big strong guy who is also very angry. It will be fascinating to see how its performance against Northwestern compares to Wisconsin's.

Why you shouldn't be afraid: Having Mitch Leidner as your best passer doesn't seem like a good idea. If you cut off Cobb, it feels like the Gophers ought to go limp. Again, their game against Northwestern will be very, very instructive.

Hubris: One Andy. Exactly one Andy, our Andy, could blow this.


LSU (4-2, 0-2 SEC)

Result vs. Wisconsin: W, 28-24

This week: @ Florida

Last week: Fileted by Auburn, 41-7

Western Illinois (2-4, 0-2 MFVC)

Result vs. Wisconsin: L, 37-3

This week: Youngstown State

Last week: It's depressing when you go down a FCS school's schedule and the losses to Power 5 schools look just like the losses to everyone else (lost 17-10 to North Dakota State).

Bowling Green (4-2, 2-0 MAC)

Result vs. Badgers: L, 68-17

This week: @ Ohio

Last week: Won a screecher for a second straight week, this time 36-35 over Buffalo.

South Florida (2-3, 1-0 AMERICAN)

Result vs. Badgers: L, 27-10

This week: No. 19 East Carolina

Last week: BYE

Northwestern (3-2, 2-0 B1G)

Result vs. Badgers: W, 20-14

This week: @ Minnesota

Last week: Now projected to win the Big Ten West. Whoopee!