There you were—deep into September with no Big Ten football, leaving you with the indignity of watching other conferences play in front of fans so clueless that 90% of them can’t even figure out how to wear a goddamn COVID mask. And then it started: a buzz about the Big Ten playing that injected some hope back into your moribund existence that had been reduced to watching Big Ten Classic and Cobra Kai. That buzz quickly turned into a roar and, one short week later, Dave Revsine’s favorite conference was back.
Because I’m a loving God, in between buying wine islands at deep discounts and searching for a COVID cure in my private laboratory, I’ve prepared for you a game-by-game preview of the Badgers’ 2020 football season, with more detail than you expect—or deserve.
Here we go with Part One of Three: The Early Season.
Game 1: Illinois
Everyone remembers where they were in 2019 when the unthinkable happened. No, not Bret Bielema refusing a free all-you-can-eat buffet or ESPN stopping their brazen nut-nuzzling of Alabama for 10 minutes. The unthinkable was a kick—both to win a game for the Illini and to the collective groin of Badgers everywhere: 24-23 Illinois. Final. A result that might happen one time in a hundred had happened and made PJ Fleck so gleeful that he used it to recruit the same kids who will soon lose to Wisconsin every year. Fast forward to the fall of 2020, where a revenge-hungry Bucky serves Illinois up a good old-fashioned three bratwurst-and-fried-cheese Camp Randall beatdown. Behind an efficient 235 yards and three TDs from Jack Coan, along with two defensive scores, Wisconsin cruises to a 44-10 bludgeoning, rudely reminding Lovie Smith what an elite Big Ten West team actually looks like.
Record: 1-0, AP Rank No. 13
Badgers Heisman Watch: Jake Ferguson 6/119/2
Game 2: @ Nebraska
In the ultimate substance vs. filler game, media-appointed False Messiah Scott Frost and his over-hyped gaggle of players that Oklahoma and Iowa apparently didn’t want, jump out to a quick 10-0 lead, at which time the media begins to inscribe Frost’s name on the National Coach of the Year trophy despite a 56-7 loss to Ohio State the previous week. But it all starts to unravel for Husker Nation, as Nakia Watson introduces himself to America with 136 yards/two TDs to stake Wisconsin to a 21-13 halftime lead. The second 30 is no kinder to The Golden Boy and his lads, with the Badgers tacking on three more second half scores, led by Heisman front-runner Jake Ferguson’s two touchdowns, both showing athleticism and obviously-inherited football instincts. A late strike from Graham Mertz to Kendric Pryor puts a cap on the the bloodbath, 42-20, and sends blabbering Nebraska AD Bill Moos into the arms of the drooling press lamenting the “unsportsmanlike ending, where Wisconsin ungraciously ran up the score” while neglecting to mention that the Huskers’ first team defense played the whole game. Tears Rating: Scrumptious.
Record: 2-0, AP Rank No. 11
Badgers Heisman Watch: Jake Ferguson 5/88/2
Game 3: Purdue
Don’t say ”Pur-don’t” anymore. That’s so very 2015. Say “Pur-Never Will” as yet another optimism-caked Boiler squad is dropped to 0-3. Jack Coan to Danny Davis III is twice as nice early in staking Bucky to a 17-6 halftime lead, before the Nakia Watson/Garrett Groshek/Jake Ferguson Hydra blow up the Purdue “Defense” for second half scores in a breezy 45-17 Wisconsin rout. Many things will contribute to this win, not the least of which the fact that Purdue’s best offensive lineman would be on Wisconsin’s scout team. With his unrivaled silver tongue, coach Chryst calls it a “great team win, where the guys really competed” temporarily bumping him ahead of 1-2 Scott Frost for second on one Big Ten Coach of the Year ballot!
Record: 3-0, AP Rank No. 10
Badgers Heisman Watch: Jake Ferguson 7/69/1
Game 4: @ No. 14 Michigan
Real talk, this was one of the games you were concerned about: date in Ann Arbor to face Jim Harbaugh—the coach who plays checkers when his opponents play chess. While the empty Big House makes the crowd noise sound just like a normal Michigan game, the Wolverines come to play and jump out to a 7-0 first quarter lead that Chris Fowler worries might be “insurmountable for the pedestrian Wisconsin offense against living legend Don Brown’s mind-bending schemes.” Two quick Badgers touchdowns later, Fowler wonders aloud whether Harbaugh and his staff will survive 2020 absent a win over Ohio State, before running a 3 minute featurette on the Harbaugh family coaching tree. Strong Wisconsin defensive line play led by Garrett Rand, hand-in-hand with Michigan being hilariously overrated again, combine to spit the Badgers out on top 24-16, prompting a somber Maria Taylor to ask Paul Chryst post-game “what do you think this Michigan loss means for Jim Harbaugh going forward?”
Record: 4-0, AP Rank No. 8 (behind five SEC teams, Clemson and Ohio State)
Badgers Heisman Watch: Jake Ferguson 4/86/0
Part Two coming later!