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After beating LSU, what's next for Wisconsin?

Our latest roundtable tackles the magnitude of Saturday's win and tries to look forward on what's now a very different outlook for 2016.

Abigail Buchta

What does Saturday's win mean for the rest of the 2016 season?

Owen Riese: Well, I hate to be the buzzkill, but the schedule still sucks and they'll still have an uphill battle to win eight or nine games. It's an awesome feeling to have finally win a primetime game against the SEC, however. This game could set the tone for the entire season, but won't make things easier for Wisconsin.

Kyle Vos: As Owen alluded to, unfortunately the win does not affect the schedule. The Badgers still have a four-game stretch against Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa, with three of those on the road. What it does show is that this Wisconsin team is immediately highly competitive. With those four games coming at the start of the Big Ten slate, there is now more hope to steal one or two and exceed even the most optimistic expectations.

Joe Brown: This was the "signature win" that the Badgers have failed to achieve the last couple of seasons. A win like this goes a long way in terms of national opinion and polling, but what does this win mean for 2016? It should provide the Badgers a sense of confidence knowing they can compete with anyone in the country on a given week. Wisconsin will have to remain sharp the next couple of weeks to avoid a letdown in games they will be favored to win. For the Badgers to be in the "driver's seat" in the Big Ten West, they will still need to find a way to win two of their first four conference games. Beating LSU makes that seem more achievable.

Luke Mueller: This win guarantees that the Badgers won't finish .500 for the year (which was a realistic outcome, despite what optimistic badger fans though). It also has to make you feel better as they head into big games early in the year against Mich St, Michigan, and Ohio State. This game taught the team how to win. Now they just need to find ways to do it throughout the year and the team that I thought would go 7-5 has a chance to be a 10 win team and play for the Big Ten Championship.

What went well for the Badgers against LSU?

Owen: The Badgers’ defense will again be the strength of the team, as they held up against a more talented LSU offense and for the most part kept Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette bottled up. The offensive line also played very well for most of the game.

Kyle: The defense and Rafael Gaglianone were both outstanding. Already without leading tackler T.J. Edwards, the defense lost another starting inside linebacker, Chris Orr, on its first defensive play and still completely dominated the fifth-ranked team in the nation. Ryan Connelly filled in magnificently and everyone stepped up to contain the freakish human being known as Leonard Fournette. Gaglianone also appears to have bounced back from his disappointing sophomore season, easily nailing a 48-yarder along with the game-winner from 47.

Joe: I’m not sure it can be said enough how good the Badgers' defense really is. The front seven was disruptive all game and successfully kept LSU from finding a rhythm the entire game (linebacker depth for days—hello, Ryan Connelly) Outside of the obvious, Troy Fumagalli was a big revelation for me as he totaled seven catches for 100 yards. Fumagalli displayed dependable hands and a knack for getting open, and appears to be a dependable security blanket for Bart Houston.

Luke: The Badgers defense looked like it had left off right where we left them in the Holiday Bowl against USC. They were stout. The linebacking group constantly answered the bell. The offensive line was also able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and allow the running backs lanes to run, which was a concern going up against an SEC defense. Finally, Rafael Gaglianone was clutch. He made the big field goals look easy. The leaner kicker didn't give us a hip thrust (insert GIF) but made some very important kicks that were no doubters.

Where do the Badgers need to improve?

Owen: Despite his likability and leading the team to a win, Bart Houston has to, and likely will, improve. The pass rush was also mostly non-existent.

Kyle: Poor decision-making by Houston and Paul Chryst kept this game close as much as anything. This is Houston’s fifth-year in the program and his M.O. has never changed; he has a good arm, but will make some terrible passes. After Chryst declined to take the points on the team’s second drive, he should not be opening up the offense on a 3rd-and-nine from LSU’s 10 on the next drive. The same goes for the third-quarter interception at Wisconsin’s own 10 that was returned for a touchdown.

Joe: Turnovers! It's somewhat cliché to say, but had Wisconsin not given up the pick-six or fumble, would the Tigers have even gotten to double-digits? I don't think the Badgers are dynamic enough in the passing game to be able to overcome big momentum swings all season long.

Luke: The three things that stand out to me are the defense, the quarterback play and the offensive line. I know, I just got done complimenting the defense and offensive line, but here me out. The defensive line needs to show that it can get pressure on the quarterback and penetrate up the field. The linebackers did a great job of creating havoc, and some of that credit should go to the d-line, but they never sniffed the QB (besides James's sack) or stopped Fournette at the point of attack. That needs to improve to make this defense successful. Houston obviously helped the team to victory and showed great poise on the Badgers' last drive, but his decision-making is still a huge question mark. He's got to do better in that respect, as those two interceptions (that we've now forgotten about because UW won) could have been the reason they lost. Finally, the offensive line needs to get better penetration. While they opened some holes, they were never getting to the second level. Most of the runs the Badgers had were in the 3-to-7-yard vicinity. The Badgers really could have had the Tigers on their heels if they busted a few for major yardage.

Looking ahead, Akron is no slouch (eight wins in 2015). How does Wisconsin avoid a hangover loss to the MAC opponent?

Owen: Wisconsin is renowned as a slow-starting team in games it should pretty handily win. If the Badgers can pounce on the Zips early, they can put it in cruise control early in the second half.

Kyle: Akron was only beating VMI 26-24 before dropping 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, so a fast Badger start would certainly help. Wisconsin’s defense should be able to wreak havoc on an Akron offense that is replacing its entire line from a year ago. Meanwhile, a hangover should not be a concern for a Wisconsin offense that has a lot to prove after its season debut.

Joe: The blueprint has already been laid: this team’s calling card will be dominant defense and ball-control offense. If the Badgers can set the tone early by physically dominating at the line of scrimmage, I think they will be able to get the win.

Luke: They need to play with the same intensity and urgency in this game (and every game going forward) that they brought to Lambeau. While Akron had a good year last year, it should still be no match for Wisconsin. The Badgers need to set the tone early by winning the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They also need to limit turnovers on their end and create turnovers on defense. If they can do that, at dinner on Saturday the Badgers will be 2-0.