It’s the end of June and there isn’t much going on in the world of college sports. It’s as good a time as any to look at the Wisconsin football schedule and speculate wildly on what their record might be, right? The Badgers finished last season at 9-4 overall with a 6-3 record in the Big Ten.
UW lost just about all of their big games last season, falling to Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Minnesota, while beating Iowa, Purdue, Nebraska and Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Badgers started the season 1-3, but rattled off seven straight wins, and eight of nine, to end the season and give the team a little momentum heading into the offseason.
We talked about the first half of the season on Tuesday and decided that the Badgers would go 5-1 through their first six games, losing only to Ohio State. The second half of the season features three home games and three road games, with four of the six games being Big Ten West division matchups.
Week 7, 10/15/22, at Michigan State
- Following a road trip at Northwestern with a trip to East Lansing is pretty rough for Wisconsin. After a fun run of games between 2007-2012, the Badgers and Spartans have only met twice in the last decade, both UW wins. However, Wisconsin hasn’t played MSU with Mel Tucker as head coach yet. Tucker piloted the Spartans to an 11-2 last season, despite a suspect defense. MSU’s defense should be improved this year, but their offense will miss standout tailback Kenneth Walker III (Walter Camp Player of the Year winner) who rushed for 1,636 yards last season. A potential replacement for Walker is old friend Jalen Berger, who was dismissed from Wisconsin in October last year, and will vie with Jarek Broussard, a transfer from Colorado, for carriers in East Lansing. I’ll probably change my mind about this game a dozen more times before it kicks off, but right now I think the Spartans win a close one and drop the Badgers to 5-2 overall, 2-2 B1G.
Week 8, 10/22/22, vs. Purdue
- The Boilermakers are a trendy pick to make some noise in the West a year after their surprising 9-4 season. I think Purdue could be pretty good this year, but losing DE George Karlaftis and WR David Bell to the NFL is tough and, oh yeah, Wisconsin hasn’t lost to them in their last 15 meetings. Badgers bounce back (6-2 overall, 3-2 B1G) and beat the Boilermakers by double digits to keep pace in the race for the division crown.
Week 9, 10/29/22, BYE WEEK
- This is a perfect time for a week off. It’s Halloween Weekend, they’ll probably have some banged up players who could use some extra time off and they’ll be rested and ready for the final four games (three rivalry trophies) of the season.
Week 10, 11/5/22, vs. Maryland
- The Terps have one of the most talented QBs in the league in Taulia Tagovailoa, a number of pass catching threats out wide and a veteran offensive line. Their running game and rush defense are big question marks and a player like Braelon Allen could give them fits. I think Maryland will definitely beat a team or two that they shouldn’t this year, but I don’t think one of those teams will be Wisconsin (7-2 overall, 4-2 B1G) in Camp Randall.
Week 11, 11/12/22, at Iowa
- Whatever weird voodoo that affects most teams in Iowa City hasn’t bothered Wisconsin over the past decade. The Badgers are 4-1 in their last five trips to Kinnick, although they did lose their most recent game there. I think the Hawkeyes are going to be doo-doo stinky this season and come back down to Earth hard after winning 10 games, and the division, last year. QB Spencer Petras is a worse Graham Mertz and they lost their two best offensive players, RB Tyler Goodson and C Tyler Linderbaum, to the NFL. The defense will be very good, per usual, but it won’t be enough. Wisconsin wins (8-2 overall, 5-2 B1G) the Heartland Trophy for the second straight year and takes control of the division.
Week 12, 11/19/22, at Nebraska
- Until proven otherwise, the Cornhuskers are of no concern to me. Will Scott Frost still be the coach by this point in the season? Who knows?!? Badgers move to 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten.
Week 13, 11/26/22, vs. Minnesota
- After 14 straight years of dominance by Wisconsin, the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe has been split evenly the last four years. The Gophers ended the streak in 2018, at Camp Randall, but the Badgers bounced back and started a new winning streak by winning in 2020 and 2021. That winning streak was short lived as Minnesota embarrassed the Badgers (the score was closer than the game actually was) last season, taking back the Axe and keeping the Badgers from winning the division and going to the Big Ten Title game. While this game should rightly end the season, I get the feeling that UW would like to play it first so they can exact their revenge. If the Badgers have any pride this will be a win. Here’s hoping Tanner Morgan ends his Gophers career with a loss to Wisconsin and a couple of interceptions.
So, this leaves Wisconsin at 10-2 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten. That will be good enough to win the division and they should get another shot at Ohio State in Indianapolis. Unless dozens of players get food poisoning the night before the game, that should be another Buckeyes win and Wisconsin will head to a NY6 bowl at 10-3.
Despite being the guy who wrote both of these posts and was picking each of the games, I would be shocked if UW won 10 games this season. The defense has a lot to replace and the offense hinges on the right arm of an inconsistent Graham Mertz. I’ll definitely revisit these picks closer to when the season starts and see if I’ve gone full blown homer and pick them to go 12-0 or I’ve realized that every B1G West team is going 7-5.