What is your game prediction for Utah State?
Owen Riese: Wisconsin 34, Utah State 13. Wisconsin rarely comes out early and runs up the score, but will be in firm control the whole game. Utah State scores once early, and is suffocated afterwards.
Dylan Deich: It will be much more comfortable than the last time the Aggies came to town: 42–10, Badgers. Alex Hornibrook and Troy Fumagalli get going early, opening the door for Bradrick Shaw and Chris James to run away with it. This defense is not giving up more than a couple scores to Utah State, who returns just two starting offensive linemen.
Mike Fiammetta: Week 1 score predictions are always even more a darts-against-the-wall exercise than other weeks, so let’s just say... 24–9, Wisconsin. The defense is stout against the Aggies, but the Badgers’ offense takes just a little bit to get going. Fumagalli gets a red-zone TD, and maybe Shaw/James each get into the end zone once.
Ryan Mellenthin: 31–3. Wisconsin’s defense will live up to the hype and Wisconsin will get into a rhythm in the first half and then coast in the second half, with a fair amount of running plays. Rafael Gaglianone will split the uprights, and we will see some sort of dance thereafter. I know it’s a reach, but I am personally hoping for a twerk or two...
Neal Olson: Wisconsin 40, Utah State 10. Flashbacks to Russell Wilson’s first game in a Badger uniform when an opening night (on a Thursday, not a Friday, but still) romp over UNLV set the table for a historically good season.
Jake Kocorowski: I’ll say 41-10, Wisconsin. The running game takes off with a three-headed attack with the passing game opening up and keeping the Utah State defense on its heels. The Aggies’ pace-based offense challenges the Badgers for a series or so, but the defense hunkers down and stifles them. Starters sit after the third quarter, and the fans who made it out to Camp Randall leave happy.
What are your season predictions for the Badgers?
Owen: 11–1. The Badgers stumble against the Wolverines, but it doesn't matter, as they've already clinched the Big Ten West and head to Indianapolis to play the Buckeyes.
Dylan: 11–1, as the Badgers drop one at BYU early in the year. Why? I just feel like weird things happen at BYU.
Mike: 12–0. Finally a unique answer, baby! No disrespect to BYU, but the trip to Provo doesn’t really scare me. Neither does Michigan in Madison. If anything, it’s going to Nebraska in early October. But given how focused this team seems to be entering Week 1 and the relatively low number of question marks surrounding the roster, I think Wisconsin gets to Indianapolis unbeaten.
Ryan: I’m going to have to agree with Mike and say 12–0. Looking at the schedule, an early clash with BYU on the road did worry me, but after seeing how poorly the Cougars played while hosting an FCS school, my worry subsided. Recent history has led us to believe we can’t have nice things, with Wisconsin losing so many one-score games (Wisconsin’s last five losses dating back to 2015 have come by seven or fewer points). However, there seems to be a something different about this year’s squad that makes me believe that we can indeed have nice things.
Neal: I have had about four different predictions typed out and deleted, but screw it—I’m riding 12–0 also. If you can’t set unreasonably high expectations prior to a season, are you really a football fan?
Jake: I’ve been struggling with this one all week. I really feel they probably will lose one game at some point, but I don’t know to whom. Heading out to BYU will be interesting, but the Big Ten West I feel will be tougher than on paper. Northwestern at home on Sept. 30 kicks off divisional play, then a trip to Nebraska to face the hype train that is Tanner Lee could prove difficult. Then there’s Michigan at home and Minnesota trying to kick a 13-game losing streak to Wisconsin at the end of the regular season.
If Hornibrook at any point is out for an extended period of time, this prediction is subject to change. And yet, I’ll go with the bold one because this team—even with Jack Cichy and Zack Baun out—has the playmakers on both sides of the ball to pair with a mentally sharp squad. Go big, or go home. 12–0 with a College Football Playoff berth on the line against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game in December.