With Wisconsin football camp officially kicking off Friday, it won’t be long until we are watching the “Motion W” again every Saturday (and even a Friday this season). So as the Badgers get ready to take to the field, let’s take a closer look at who they are playing and why you should be watching!
Week 1: Utah State @ Wisconsin. The Badgers officially kick off their season on a Friday night against the Utah State Aggies. Wisconsin’s most recent game against the Aggies was in 2012, when the Badgers claimed victory by a margin of 16-14. All eyes will be on Alex Hornibook as he hopes to lead the offense to a victory on a Friday night at Camp Randall.
Week 2: Florida Atlantic @ Wisconsin. Week 2 is host to the Badgers first ever meeting with the Florida Atlantic Owls, Lane Kiffin’s new team. Expect Wisconsin’s defense to dominate in this one against an FAU team that had three wins last season. As the offense tries to find their identity, we will hopefully be able to see the defense pick up where they left off last season, with veteran leader Jack Cichy on the field.
Week 3: Wisconsin @ BYU. The Badgers will compete in their first road game of the season as they take on BYU in a tough road battle. The series is tied between these two teams at one win each, but the Badgers came away with the latest victory in 2013, winning 27-17. The crowd at Camp Randall is enough to hype up the home team, but how will they fare on enemy turf? We should get our answer come Week 3 of the season.
Week 4: Wisconsin vs Northwestern. The Badgers will open up conference play against the Northwestern Wildcats. Few consider the Northwestern Wildcats to be Wisconsin’s biggest rival, but they always play the Badgers tough, making for a thrilling game. Wisconsin held Northwestern’s top rusher to just 42 yards last season, and they will hopefully be able to do the same again on September 30th. If the Badgers want to win the Big Ten West, a win against Northwestern is necessary.
Week 5: Wisconsin @ Nebraska. Last season, the Badgers game against the Cornhuskers came down to the wire. The Badgers gave up 10 points in the fourth quarter, allowing Nebraska to send the game into overtime. Eventually, the Badgers won the game on a Dare Ogunbowale touchdown. Ogunbowale and Corey Clement may be gone to the NFL, but the Badgers have a new pair of running backs this year with Chris James and Bradrick Shaw. Wisconsin will need both rushers to capture a win in Nebraska and the Freedom Trophy.
Week 6: Wisconsin vs Purdue. Bradrick Shaw had a career game last season against the Purdue Boilermakers. Shaw scored two touchdowns last season as the Badgers took home a 49-20 win. While Shaw was excellent last season against Purdue, the quarterback play was not as the shuffle between Hornibook and Houston continued. Hopefully this season there will be stability at quarterback by Week 6.
Week 7: Wisconsin vs Maryland. Wisconsin has won the last two meetings against the Maryland Terrapins. Last time these two teams faced off, Natrell Jamerson scored on a 98-yard return touchdown in what was a pretty ugly game. It will be interesting to see how well the Badgers special teams will perform this year with the return of Rafael Gaglianone from injury. The Badgers will likely be eying a spot atop of the Big Ten West, and a win over a fellow Big Ten team will only help secure their spot.
Week 8: Wisconsin @ Illinois. The Badgers will cross the border to take on the Fighting Illini. The Badgers most recent game against Illinois was their homecoming game last season. Wisconsin dominated the Illini with a final score of 48-3. The leading receiver last year was Jazz Peavy, who had a low 29 yards. The Badgers should look to improve on their passing game when they face off against the Fighting Illini.
Week 9: Wisconsin @ Indiana. The Hoosiers fell below .500 last season and this game. This game will be head coach Paul Chryst’s first game against the Hoosiers. In 2013, the Badgers took care of Indiana with a decisive score of 51-3 at Camp Randall. Wisconsin is looking to make it 10 straight wins against the Hoosiers when they head to Indiana on November 4th.
Week 10: Wisconsin vs Iowa. A year with the Heartland Trophy is on the line when the Iowa Hawkeyes come to Madison, WI on November 11th. The Badgers won a low scoring game against the Hawkeyes last season in Iowa, with a final score of 17-9. Jack Cichy led the team in tackles last season when these two teams faced off, with 10. City has embraced his leadership role with the team, and I expect him to be the heart of the team all season.
Week 11: Wisconsin vs Michigan. This is likely the Badgers’ biggest game of the season. With a win against Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines, the Badgers will certainly make a name for themselves in the college football world. The Badgers came close to a victory last season, only losing by a touchdown in The Big House. But with home field advantage this season, the Badgers could be looking to take down the Wolverines for the first time since 2010.
Week 12: Wisconsin @ Minnesota. The Badgers have won Paul Bunyan’s Axe for 13 straight years, and are looking to make that 14 as they head to Minnesota for the last game of the regular season. Wisconsin vs Minnesota is one of the Big Ten’s best rivalries, fans from both teams fill the stadium, Bucky and Goldy roast each other on Twitter, and the winning team chops down the goal post with their axe. I can’t wait for Wisconsin to play (and hopefully beat) Minnesota to conclude the regular season.