Wisconsin Badgers Football: How they could go 12-0 or 0-12

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wisconsin badgers 12-0

The Wisconsin Badgers enter the 2013 season in a very unique situation; they’ve won three straight Big Ten Championships but yet have an entirely new coaching staff.

Head Coach Gary Andersen leads a staff with one of the most talented rosters in America as Wisconsin returns 12 starters (six on defense and six on offense) and an eye towards the future.

Let’s take a look at each of the Badgers’ 12 opponents and talk about how they could beat them or lose to them.

Melvin Gordon, P.J. Smith

UMass

When: Saturday, August 31st (11:00 AM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: Big Ten Network

All-Time Series: 0-0 (first meeting)

Why the Badgers could win: Wisconsin enters the game as 45 point favorites over the Minutemen of Massachusetts, the largest spread of any college football game during the first week. Wisconsin’s offense should have their way with a team that went 1-11 in their debut FBS season last year.

Why the Badgers could lose: I really can’t think of any humanly possible way Wisconsin loses this game. Indiana and Michigan combined to beat this team by a 108-19 margin last year.

Tennessee Tech

When: Saturday, September 7th (11:00 AM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: Big Ten Network

All-Time Series: 0-0 (first meeting)

Why the Badgers could win: Here’s the annual showdown with the FCS team who probably shouldn’t be on the schedule. Last year the Badgers struggled to put away Northern Iowa, but the Golden Eagles aren’t even close to a powerhouse in their own division.

Why the Badgers could lose: Once again, there’s no way the Badgers lose to a team who went 3-8 with wins against Hampton, North Greensboro and Tennessee Martin in 2012.

Arizona State

When: Saturday, September 14th (9:30 PM CT)

Where: Tempe, AZ

TV: ESPN/ESPN2

All-Time Series: 1-2 (0-1 at Tempe)

Why the Badgers could win: The Sun Devils may be a top-40 team, but the Badgers are a top 25 team. They match up really well against one of their biggest weaknesses, an average run defense. Everyone knows that Wisconsin’s running game is their bread and butter and it very likely could be the key to stealing an impressive road win in the desert.

Why the Badgers could lose: For starters, it’s beyond legitimate to say the Badgers won’t be prepared for this game with their first two games coming against awful competition. The Sun Devils are also a great home team, going 5-2 in 2012 under first year head coach Todd Graham. Arizona State has an explosive offense that can give the Badgers secondary a lot of problems if they haven’t figured out their depth problem at this point in the season.

Purdue

When: Saturday, September 21st (Time TBA)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 42-29-8 (24-12-5 in Madison)

Why the Badgers could win: Purdue is another team with a young new head coach who is looking towards the future. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, their offensive and defensive talent isn’t as aplenty as that of the Badgers. They were supposed to compete with the Badgers last year and were trounced by 24 points at home.

Why the Badgers could lose: Let’s say Head Coach Darrell Hazell catches fire and pulls off the best first-year win a coach can get (almost no one goes in to Camp Randall and wins). Junior running back Akeem Hunt is so talented, he could take over the game (8.3 yards per carry and 14.9 yards per catch in minimal action).

Ohio State

When: Saturday, September 28th (7:00 PM CT)

Where: Columbus, OH

TV: ABC/ESPN/ESPN2

All-Time Series: 18-55-5 (7-29-3 at Columbus)

Why the Badgers could win: We all saw what the Badgers did in 2010 when pulling the unlikely 31-18 upset over the then ranked #1 Buckeyes. If everything clicks and the Badgers come out shooting on all cylinders, anything is possible right?

Why the Badgers could lose: Since that 2010 win, the Badgers have went 0-2 against the Buckeyes with last year’s loss coming at home in overtime. The Buckeyes are stacked and have Heisman-hopeful Braxton Miller. Miller has been fairly lethal against the Badgers over the past two years (147 rushing yards and three total touchdowns).

Northwestern

When: Saturday, October 12th (2:30 PM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 56-33-5 (25-14-2 in Madison)

Why the Badgers could win: Another quality opponent that the Badgers happened to get at home. These two teams haven’t met since 2010 when the Badgers won 70-23. While not playing one another, both of these clubs have started their ascension to the top of the conference. The Badgers can only hope they are in better shape.

Why the Badgers could lose: This will most likely be the Badgers toughest game at home. Northwestern didn’t lose a ton to graduation and the draft. They’re right up there as a top-25ish team and are one of the better running teams in the nation. If they can grind it out and come up with the occasional big play, they could land a nice road win.

Illinois

When: Saturday,  October 19th (7:00 PM CT)

Where: Champaign, IL

TV: Big Ten Network

All-Time Series: 36-36-7 (15-20-3 at Champaign)

Why the Badgers could win: Wisconsin has played very well against the Fighting Illini as of late. Moreover, this same Illinois team racked up a woeful two wins last year, only one of them coming against an FBS opponent. Badgers should be favored by a decent margin in this one.

Why the Badgers could lose: Maybe if senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has a career game and the defense overachieves a bit. This Illinois team is super young and will be good in the future, just not yet.

Iowa

When: Saturday, November 2nd (Time TBA)

Where: Iowa City, IA

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 42-42-2 (15-24-1 at Iowa City)

Why the Badgers could win: This isn’t the same pesky Hawkeyes team that the Badgers have dealt with over the past decade. They’ve shuffled through assistant coaches and have had a lot of trouble finding a successful offensive plan. If the recent trends with these two teams continue, there’s no reason the Badgers shouldn’t record a solid road win in November.

Why the Badgers could lose: There’s nothing wrong with Iowa’s defense who has stood the test of time and continues to be the only constant strength in Iowa City. If Wisconsin’s offensive attack hits a bump in the road, anything can happen on the road in the division.

BYU

When: Saturday, November 9th (Time TBA)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 0-1 (28-3 loss at Camp Randall in 1980)

Why the Badgers could win: Luckily for Wisconsin, most of BYU’s nasty defense from a year ago has moved on and there are still a ton of questions surrounding their offense. This game comes well after the Badgers’ toughest game, Ohio State, so they should be focused and locked in to showing up at Camp Randall on this specific week.

Why the Badgers could lose: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is one of the best in the country and has the skills to track down Wisconsin’s speedy running backs. Moreover, this same team gave Gary Andersen all kinds of fits in a 6-3 win over his Utah State team last year.

Indiana

When: Saturday, November 16th (Time TBA)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 39-18-2 (22-8-1 in Madison)

Why the Badgers could win: Let’s make this one simple and show the aggregate score of the Badgers last three games with the Hoosiers and if you’re an Indiana alum or fan, please look away. 204-41.

Why the Badgers could lose: All crazy trends have to come to an end and this Indiana team is legitimately improving. This team may not be good enough to knock off Wisconsin in Madison, but they will most likely make a bowl game.

Minnesota

When: Saturday, November 23rd (Time TBA)

Where: Minneapolis, MN

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 56-58-8 (23-37-2 at Minneapolis)

Why the Badgers could win: What battle for Paul Bunyan’s axe? The Badgers have owned the piece of lumber for nine straight years and 16 of the last 18.

Why the Badgers could lose: Minnesota will be well tested entering the game with match-ups against Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State all coming previous to this game. If Jerry Kill can get his boys to learn from those games, the Gophers could pull a shocker in the twin cities.

Penn State

When: Saturday, November 30th

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 9-7 (6-3 in Madison)

Why the Badgers could win: The Badgers will be seeking redemption when they host the final game of the regular season in Madison. A 24-21 overtime loss at Penn State still stings in the mind of the fans and initial impressions have those same people believing in Coach Andersen and his ability to have the players ready for the postseason.

Why the Badgers could lose: What we don’t know about Andersen in the Big Ten, we do know about Penn State’s Bill O’Brien. What O’Brien did last year with the sanctions was one of college football’s best stories last season. To think he won’t build on that is foolish, the Nittany Lions should at least compete in this one.

Which games do you think could be troublesome for the Badgers? Are there any games that are for-sure wins? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at grays@uwalumni.com.

*Pictures obtained from thesportsbank.net and collegefootball.ap.org.

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