Most of the college football world penciled in a Badgers loss to Ohio State before the season and even after Wisconsin got off to a hot start, but no one could have predicted the meltdown in Champaign.
Now with two losses, the Badgers will need some help from Big Ten opponents to knock off long-time rivals Iowa and Minnesota to win the Big Ten West.
Iowa, like Wisconsin, sits at 6-2, while the Gophers have shocked just about everyone outside of Minneapolis and sit at 8-0, one of only nine undefeated teams left in the FBS.
The Hawkeyes, Badgers, and Gophers have separated themselves from the rest of the Big Ten West and are on a collision course as they each play one another. Which team will head to Indianapolis representing the West in the Big Ten championship?
Wisconsin: Current record: 6-2 overall, 3-2 Big Ten
Notable matchups left: vs Iowa 11/9, @Minnesota 11/30
After starting 6-0 and making an appearance in the AP Top 10, the Badgers have dropped their last two before a crucial Big Ten West matchup when they host Iowa on Saturday.
UW’s last four regular season games will be against Big Ten West opponents, setting themselves up nicely to make a run at the West title and a Big Ten championship game berth.
“We got to do whatever it takes to win,” running back Jonathan Taylor said. “We have four Big Ten West games left so we have to make sure we are playing our best ball.”
This weekend’s game can be viewed as an elimination game as a third loss would almost certainly eliminate the Badgers from contention.
Wisconsin will need help from Iowa and Penn State to knock off Minnesota and set up a game that would decide the West for the regular season finale.
First on the list for the Badgers to climb back would be to take down the Hawkeyes, a feat they’ve been able to accomplish the past three seasons.
Minnesota: current record: 8-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten
Notable matchups left: vs Penn State 11/9, @ Iowa 11/16, vs Wisconsin 11/30
Talk about the biggest surprise of the season so far. A year after improving to 7-6 in 2018 from 5-7 in 2017, Minnesota is still spotless and atop the West.
Minnesota built on their border battle win – its first win in the matchup in 14 years – in 2018 to set off a run of 10 straight wins including their Quick Lane Bowl win over Georgia Tech.
Minnesota has their toughest test yet when they host the undefeated Nittany Lions this weekend. The Gophers also have matchups against the Hawkeyes and Badgers lined up, making for a tough stretch to close out the year.
The Gophers control their destiny and can certainly shut the door on Iowa and Wisconsin if they can pull of the upset of Penn State.
Iowa: Current record: 6-2 overall, 3-2 Big Ten
Notable matchups left: @ Wisconsin 11/9, vs Minnesota 11/16
Iowa’s road to Indianapolis begins in Madison. Any and all talk of playing in the Big Ten title game will have to start with an upset of the Badgers in Camp Randall as both teams fight for their Big Ten lives.
Outside of their back-to-back matchups with UW and UM, Iowa closes out with Illinois and Nebraska which are certainly winnable games.
Consecutive losses to Michigan and Penn State might be the difference for Iowa’s season, but the Hawkeyes are far from out of it.
Iowa seemingly has the toughest road with must-win games coming up these next two weeks.