Examining how the Wisconsin Badgers could go 12-0 or 0-12

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Pundits and fans alike have tagged the 2012 Wisconsin Badgers as the favorites to come out of the Big Ten Leaders Division and possibly a darkhorse candidate for the National Championship Game.

Here’s a look at each of the Badgers twelve opponents and what they have to do to win each game as well as how they could lose every game.


University of Northern Iowa

When: Saturday, September 1st (2:30 PM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: Big Ten Network

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

Why the Badgers could win: Northern Iowa is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision and the Badgers have absolutely dominated teams from that league over the last couple of years. Against FCS foes South Dakota and Austin Peay, the Badgers had a 129-to-13 scoring edge.

Why the Badgers could lose: The Panthers are not your typical FCS team, they are one of the better ones considering their trip to the semifinals of the 2011 FCS Tournament and a 10-3 regular season record. Never forget Appalachian State over Michigan!

Oregon State

When: Saturday, September 8th (3:00 PM CT)

Where: Corvallis, Oregon

TV: FX

All-Time Series: 2-0 (first meeting at Oregon State)

Why the Badgers could win: Last season was a complete disaster for the Beavers including their trip to Camp Randall where they were shut out 35-0. Oregon State’s biggest problem was their treacherous offense which ranked 100th in the nation in scoring. The sad thing is that not much has changed in Corvallis, meaning the Badgers defense should look super good once again.

Why the Badgers could lose: The main difference from last season’s game is the fact that the Badgers must travel to a new stadium in which they’ve never played before. Moreover, the Badgers seem to play to their competition on the road (remember the Illinois game).

Utah State

When: Saturday, September 15th (7:00 PM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: Big Ten Network

All-Time Series: 0-1 (20-0 loss at Camp Randall in 1968)

Why the Badgers could win: Similar to the Beavers of Oregon State, the 2012 Aggies will be offensively challenged. They lost star running backs Robert Tubin and Michael Smith to the NFL Draft, leaving a team who primarily rushes the ball without any experienced backs. Wisconsin should have no problem figuring out this unbalanced attack.

Why the Badgers could lose: What makes football so great is the possibility of an upset, even when it seems very unlikely. It’s early enough in the season for the Badgers to not be clicking and the slight possibility of Utah State playing their best football and Wisconsin their worst.

University of Texas El-Paso (UTEP)

When: Saturday, September 22nd (time TBA)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

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

Why the Badgers could win: The Miners gave up an embarrassing 189.8 rushing yards per game last season and lost seven starters from their defense. The Badgers biggest strength  is their behemoth offensive line and extraordinary backs, so expect even James White and Melvin Gordon to put up big numbers this week.

Why the Badgers could lose: A chance arises for UTEP if they can make this a shoot-out. They have the speed and offensive weapons in running back Nathan Jeffery and senior quarterback Nick Lamaison to make it interesting if they can keep up on the scoreboard.

Nebraska

When: Saturday, September 29th (7:00 PM)

Where: Lincoln, Nebraska

TV: ABC (national coverage)

All-Time Series: 3-3 (0-2 in Lincoln)

Why the Badgers could win: Mark this game as a must-watch on your calender because it will bring just as much hype as the Cornhuskers first Big Ten game last season. The Badgers will need to stick to the same game-plan and utilize Montee Ball as much as possible (30 carries in 48-17 win in 2011).

Why the Badgers could lose: Arguably the toughest game on the Badgers schedule, Nebraska has now had a year to get used to Big Ten football and plays a much stronger non-conference slate. The Cornhuskers should be better prepared for this match-up after bouts with Southern Mississippi and Arkansas State.

Illinois

When: Saturday, October 6th (2:30 PM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: ABC (national coverage)

All-Time Series: 35-36-7 (19-16-4 at Camp Randall)

Why the Badgers could win: The Illini have a new head coach in Tim Beckman and he will look to transform the offense in to one which is a little less conservative. However, this takes time, so the Badgers should be able to play their regular run-heavy offense (control the tempo) against a defense who lost All-American defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

Why the Badgers could lose: Those who regularly watch the Big Ten know that no conference game is a given. Even though Illinois lost Mercilus and wide-receiver A.J. Jenkins, the rest of the team is pretty much intact. If they can catch on to what Beckman is preaching, they could be one of the conference’s pleasant surprises.

Purdue

When: Saturday, October 13th (11:00 AM CT)

Where: West Lafayette, Indiana

TV: ESPN/ESPN2/Big Ten Network

All-Time Series: 40-29-8 (17-17-3 at Purdue)

Why the Badgers could win: Last season, the Badgers put a 62-spot on the Boilermakers at Camp Randall. That was probably one of the reasons that coach Danny Hope fired most of his staff on the defensive side. This season, they bring in new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar who excels against spread offenses from his experience in the CFL. Unfortunately for him, the Badgers run a pro-style offense.

Why the Badgers could lose: Purdue was one of the hottest teams in the conference at the end of the season, knocking off Ohio State in overtime and rallying for a bowl win against Western Michigan. Quarterback Caleb TerBush doesn’t make mistakes and is the prototypical game manager who could work an upset at home.

Minnesota

When: Saturday, October 20th (time TBA)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 55-58-8 (32-21-6 at Camp Randall)

Why the Badgers could win: Outside of quarterback MarQueis Gray, the Gophers lack experience on the offensive side of the ball, meaning the Badgers will have a huge edge in this game. Linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor as well as safety Shelton Johnson are not short on experience and should have no problems stopping the dynamic Gray.

Why the Badgers could lose: It’s the Battle for the Axe and anything can happen. If Minnesota can force a couple of turnovers and receive any kind of production outside of Gray, they could have a chance at pulling off a big upset against the Badgers.

Michigan State

When: Saturday, October 27th (2:30 PM CT)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: ABC (national coverage)

All-Time Series: 22-29 (13-13 at Camp Randall)

Why the Badgers could win: If the Nebraska game doesn’t tickle your fancy, this must be the game you’re waiting for and for good reason. This will mark what is known as a rematch of the two most exciting Big Ten games of 2011 (hailmary win for the Spartans and Big Ten Championship for the Badgers). Seeing that these two teams are so evenly matched, Camp Randall could realistically make the difference.

Why the Badgers could lose: Spartan Nation has to hate Bucky and the Badgers because they’ve been held out of a BCS bowl game (which they feel they deserved) for two years in a row. With that chip on their shoulder, they will have the motivation to go into Camp Randall and quite possibly pull out a signature win on the season.

Indiana

When: Saturday, November 10th (time TBA)

Where: Bloomington, Indiana

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 37-18-2 (16-9-1 in Bloomington)

Why the Badgers could win: It’s the Hoosiers and it’s been a long time since the Badgers have faltered to them (2002 to be exact). In fact, over the past two seasons, Wisconsin has outscored Indiana by the score of 142 to 27 (ouch!).

Why the Badgers could lose: Indiana’s singular win in 2011 came against FCS school South Carolina State. All I can say is that this season has to get better than that. Maybe it could be a miracle win against the Badgers at home.

Ohio State

When: Saturday, November 17th (time TBA)

Where: Madison, WI

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 18-54-5 (11-25-2 at Camp Randall)

Why the Badgers could win: Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller broke the spirit of the 2011 Badgers with a late touchdown to take them down in Columbus. Don’t think the veterans on the defensive side will forget that as they invite new coach Urban Meyer and Ohio State to Camp Randall. This is not the same kind of Buckeyes team which the Badgers knocked off in 2010 (ranked #1 at the time).

Why the Badgers could lose: Ohio State has nothing to lose because they’ve been banned from postseason play due to tattoo-gate. Don’t think that they wouldn’t love to jumble up a mess in the Big Ten standings and do what USC did in the Pac-12 last season. Plus, the Buckeyes have always owned the Badgers, just look at that all-time record.

Penn State

When: Saturday, November 24th (time TBA)

Where: University Park, Pennsylvania

TV: TBA

All-Time Series: 9-6 (3-3 at Penn State)

Why the Badgers could win: From a simplistic view, the Badgers are a much better all-around team. Not only that, the Nittany Lions are headed for an emotional and tolling season with the nation’s attention turned their way. With nothing but pride on the line, I have a feeling this game will mean so much more for Wisconsin.

Why the Badgers could lose: Similar to the Buckeyes, Penn State has nothing to lose, but in a different way. The only way the Nittany Lions will be able to beat the Badgers is if they can rally together and turn what has been an extremely negative atmosphere into one that is very positive.

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 to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

Pictures:

Montee Ball (monteeball.com)

Chris Borland and Mike Taylor (isportsweb.com)

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Comments

  1. I agree. Nebraska will be the toughest test since it will be on the road in a new and very hostile environment. MSU and OSU could also present problems and go in the loss column, although I think Camp Randall and the home crowd should help. In the end, I think the Badgers end up losing 1 (possibly two but i won’t predict that) of those 3 games, but still make it to another Big 10 championship. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but I still think the Badgers are the best team in the conference so I will predict another Rose Bowl birth. Hopefully they can win it this time(although I’m not holding my breath because the Pac-12 is very good at the top once again).

  2. Nick Grays says

    Thanks for the input Robert, my gut feeling is that the Badgers lose in Indianapolis this year, earning them a trip to the Capital One Bowl.

  3. Great article! I think 12-0 this year. Watch out for that MSU game.

  4. Nick Grays says

    Thanks JB!

  5. Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant thought,
    article is good, thats why i have read it completely

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