It's been a wild week of news and interesting things happening across the Big Ten and today marks the end of Wisconsin Badgers week! So far we've managed to talk a whole lot about the team and nothing about how we actually see the season playing out. Well, that changes today as we break down the UW schedule and finally end it all with our predictions.
So, let's kick Friday off with a bang by looking at the 2013 schedule in front of Wisconsin.
First things first, Wisconsin plays a very underrated non-conference slate and no it's not because UMass and Tennessee Tech are on the board, but because they will challenge themselves in a trip against a very wrothy Arizona State teama and then must face a talented BYU squad in the middle of the Big Ten season. For that we've ranked the Badgers as having the 2nd toughest non-conference schedule in the B1G. In conference, that's a whole different story as UW avoids the big guns from the Legends division and thusly rank 12th in the B1G portion of the schedule.
All of that said, how do we breakdown the Badgers schedule? Let's take a look at what's in store for the Badgers in 2012, shall we?
Winnable Games: UMass, Tennessee Tech, Purdue, at Illinois, at Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota
Wisconsin's easy schedule in Big Ten play plays a huge role in the fact that they should get to a minimum of 7 wins on the season. Of these games the only one I see having the possibility of being a "swing game" is the trip to Iowa. It's a black hole where title dreams have gone to die lately and since the Badgers haven't been to Kinnick in nearly a half a decade that's a problem. However, personally I'm not sold on the Hawkeyes being much of anything this season. I just don't see it and in fact I'd be willing to put some solid money on Wisconsin winning big in Kinnick.
Swing Games: at Arizona State, at Ohio State, Northwestern, BYU, Penn State
Anytime a Big Ten team goes out west bad things seem to happen so I'm putting the game against the Sun Devils in this category because of it. Well, that... and the fact that these two teams are evenly matched. The OSU game is only for the Big Ten championship game appearance from the Leaders division, so no biggie there. While the Buckeyes are coming off an undefeated season they also struggled to win games at times and the history of UW vs. OSU as of late says this one could go either way - the defenition of swing game.
Northwestern is a lean to the Winnable games side for me because it is at home, however I'm also a big fan of what's happening in Evanston and they scare the crap out of me despite their horrid history at Camp Randall.
As for BYU and Penn State, put them in the same boat as Northwestern. In BYU's case I'm looking at this more from the fact that this game comes in the middle of conference play and it could be dangerous if the Badgers overlook the Cougars. For PSU it's all about not knowing what this team will look like at the end of the season. I think Wisconsin will be a favorite in this one and on paper this is a winnable game for the Badgers, but Penn State and Wisconsin have played some great games in the past few years and I just don't trust that PSU won't be a thorn in the side of someone or a team capable of playing winning football for the season. In that case they belong in the swing game category.
Not a Chance in Hell: NONE
When you are the three time defending Big Ten champion you shouldn't be in a position to be completely out of any game you play all season long and that's the case here. Some could argue that the Ohio State game belongs here, but those people haven't been paying attention to what's taken place between these two teams in recent history.