Northern Iowa vs. #12 Wisconsin Badgers: Brutally Honest Preview

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For the seventh consecutive season, the Wisconsin Badgers will play a team from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or otherwise known as your “cupcakes” of the college football world.

Even if the Northern Iowa Panthers are coming off a 10-3 season, it shouldn’t matter much to the Badgers who have obliterated FCS foes by an average of roughly 31 points per game.

What is unique about this game is the fact that the Panthers are visiting Camp Randall for the Badgers season opener and not the third or fourth game like teams from the FCS have commonly done in years before.



Northern Iowa Panthers (0-0) Analysis:
I’m sure you would be hard-pressed to find the Panthers referring to themselves as the proverbial cupcake, but the team does know what kind of monster awaits them in Madison. Head coach Mark Farlay, who’s looking for his 100th career win, told reporters on Monday, “I don’t think there’s any question that, on film, this is the toughest team we’ve ever prepared for.”

The test only gets tougher for Northern Iowa, considering they’re starting a redshirt freshman quarterback in Sawyer Kollmorgan. But inexperience won’t necessarily be the theme on the Panthers’ sideline since they return seven starters on the offensive side and five on the defensive side. It will be nice for them to have veteran receivers and a fifth-year senior in Carlos Anderson at tailback.

This is a school which knows a little something about pulling the huge upset. Remember when Ali Farokhmanesh and the Panthers pulled off one of the biggest college basketball upsets ever when they knocked out #1 Kansas in the 2011 NCAA Tournament? An entirely different sport, but this football team also stuck with the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2009 all the way to the end in a 17-16 loss.

Wisconsin Badgers (0-0) Analysis: The most important man on the field this Saturday will be Montee Ball. If he’s to return to New York as a Heisman Finalist, this will be his chance to rack up some of those needed statistics. It will also be time to start the countdown as he sits just 18 touchdowns away from surpassing the all-time NCAA record for touchdowns.

Saturday also marks the debut of transfer QB Danny O’Brien who won the job this fall, inheriting one of the best offensive lines in the nation. O’Brien has a similar background to Seattle Seahawks’ starting QB Russell Wilson, but is an entirely different quarterback. Fans will be in for a treat when they see how accurate and calculated this guy really is.

Overall, the Badgers return 11 of 22 starters, but have 19 players who have started at least one game in their career.

Prediction: Wisconsin 48 Northern Iowa 14

The Badgers have won every season opener since 1998 and I don’t see them dropping this game either. Northern Iowa may not be on the same level as the Badgers, but they are no South Dakota State or Austin Peay, so I don’t expect them to let the Badgers go over 50. I have a feeling the Panthers will take their cool $450,000 in revenue and be just fine with the loss they take from Wisconsin. It will help them prepare for later dates with Iowa and FCS-Champions, North Dakota State.

What are you looking for in the opener between the Badgers and Panthers? 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 Bus (btn.com)

Sawyer Kollmorgan (desmoinesregister.com)

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