We're primed for a fantastic season. We wanted to try out staff roundtables at B5Q, so we all got together (in a Google Doc) and chatted out our predictions, expectations, observations and more for this season. Unsurprisingly, everyone had a lot to say, and what began as a planned two-part roundtable now has... many. Part 1 went up Monday.
What's your prediction for Wisconsin's season? Give a final record and pick the bowl game, please.
Sam Brief: After losing the season opener to LSU, I envision Wisconsin steamrolling through their painless schedule and finishing 12-1 after beating Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Given the nature of their schedule, it's difficult to see the Badgers cracking the top four of the BCS Standings and reaching the College Football Playoff, even with just one loss to their name. However, a Big Ten title should give the Badgers a berth in one of the CFP bowls (Cotton, Fiesta or Peach) when New Year's rolls around.
Zach Wingrove: I agree with Sam on the LSU game, I think the Badgers will hang tough with the Tigers throughout the game, but ultimately come up just short. After that, I see the Badgers getting on a roll, winning their next nine games of the regular season. They'll need to watch out for a potential trap game at Iowa on Nov. 22; I think that will be their one slip up in the Big Ten. But I still see the Badgers defeating Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship, finishing the year at 11-2. Although that will not be good enough to get the Badgers a spot in the CFP, a Big Ten title will send the Badgers to the Peach Bowl on New Year's eve.
Getting to know LSU
Before the Badgers travel to Houston take on LSU Saturday at NRG Stadium, here's what you need to know about the matchup.
Greg G: I'm always an early-season optimist and an end-of-season realist. Wisconsin should breeze through remaining games. We luckily don't have our annual trap game against Penn State at the end of the year, but this team will be tested at some point, as this schedule screams for a "space out" game where we can't understand why they're playing so poorly. Likely comes against Iowa, with the possibility of Northwestern. We can thank the football gods for not having to play OSU, MSU or PSU, and that OSU plays MSU in East Lansing. I'll venture that the Badgers advance to the Big Ten championship but lose to Michigan State. Grab your sunscreen because we're headed to the sunshine state -- Capital One Bowl, baby! I'll see myself out.
Jake K: Outside of LSU, Wisconsin will probably be favored in every other game (I believe they are as of now). I believe the talent on this team is at a level where it could win every game, but it's just so hard to be undefeated and there are question marks on this team. I see one slip up besides LSU, and that probably comes at Iowa (agree with Zach here). I just see that talented Hawkeyes offensive line being nasty in November. Could even see them tripping up against Nebraska at home if the run defense cannot contain Ameer Abdullah, or Maryland makes it a close homecoming game on Oct. 25 with their deep wide receiving corps. I'll say 10-2 and lose out on the Big Ten Championship Game as Iowa squeaks by the Badgers and Huskers (they face both teams at home and do not face Michigan, Ohio State or Michigan State during the season), and the Badgers play in Tampa in the Outback Bowl against (wait, for it) LSU AGAIN.
Max B.: I'm pretty close to everyone else here -- I simply don't see how this team finishes the regular season with less than nine wins, mainly because the schedule only contains three difficult games: LSU, Nebraska (at home) and Iowa (at Kinnick). Maryland and Minnesota will be tough ones, too, but they're both at home, and I just don't see UW losing either of them. The same would almost go for Bowling Green (who's favored to win the MAC), but come on -- unless the Badgers are in some kind of 2012-like funk, which doesn't seem reasonable, they should win by two or more touchdowns. I'd like to think they'll win against both Nebraska and Iowa with no other losses besides LSU, but I don't see it happening. Beat Nebraska and lose to Iowa and they're 10-2; lose to Nebraska and it'll be even tougher to regroup at Kinnick (and maybe even back home against Minnesota, but the Gophers will be finishing an all-time tough November stretch and in no condition to beat an angry Badger team). I see 10-2 and back in Orlando on New Year's Day -- will be against LSU? Wouldn't that be funny.