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Closing Arguments: Wisconsin

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Will Wisconsin win the West and bet set up for another B1G Championship run? All signs point to yes.

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

This time last year, I was pretty optimistic about Wisconsin. Sure, there was a new coaching staff in town and a switch to the 3-4 defense, but none of that bothered me. No, I kept the faith. I said last year that it feels like everyone in the B1G is waiting for the other shoe to drop with Wisconsin, that they expect Wisconsin to drift back to second tier status any season now.

In some ways, that makes sense. A bit of regression is to be expected after three straight conference championships. The thing is, though, I think Wisconsin has regressed as much as they're going to. Yeah, that's right. A nine win season is a regression for Wisconsin. Don't believe me? Well then let me convince you...

I. Opening Statement

By now, you're probably thinking to yourself that I'm crazy. Or that I just don't watch football (which is fair, considering that none of the writers at OTE watch any games). Nine wins as a regression? Surely she can't be serious. Clearly Wisconsin just lucked out last year with the a decent first year by the new coaching staff and a soft schedule.

Maybe that's true. The thing is, it's not like any of that has changed this year. The transition for the coaching staff is over, and I expect things will only go more smoothly for Gary Andersen and Co. in the years to come.

As for the schedule, well, Barry Alvarez has once again worked some magic and Wisconsin finds itself with one of the easiest schedules in the entirety of the B1G. Let's take a look shall we:

Date

Opponent

2013 Record

OTE 2014 Prediction

8/30/14

vs. #13 LSU*

10-3

9/6/14

vs. W. Illinois

4-8

9/20/14

vs. Bowling Green

10-4

9/27/14

vs. South Florida

2-10

10/4/14

at Northwestern

5-7

7-5

10/11/14

vs. Illinois

4-8

4-8

10/25/14

vs. Maryland

7-6

5-7

11/1/14

at Rutgers

6-7

4-8

11/8/14

at Purdue

1-11

3-9

11/15/14

vs. #22 Nebraska

9-4

8-4

11/22/14

at Iowa

8-5

8-4

11/29/14

vs. Minnesota

8-5

7-5

Easy wins: Western Illinois, South Florida, Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue

Should-be wins: Bowling Green, Maryland, Minnesota

Potential pitfalls: Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska

Hard games: LSU

Look at that. Just look at it. One legitimately rough game on the entire schedule, and it's the first game of the season. And LSU is returning like nobody to their team this year. (Yes, yes, I know LSU's new starting QB was a 4 star recruit and they also have a 5 star RB in Leonard Fournette. But neither of them is proven on the college football level yet, so, hush.)

Between the easy wins and the should-be wins, Wisconsin has eight victories. Barring any significant injuries, I don't see them dropping all of the pitfall games, especially since they will be hosting Nebraska at Camp Randall. So even if they lose to LSU and drop 2/3 of the pitfall games, they finish the season with nine wins heading into either the B1G Championship or a bowl game.

And, given that OTE is predicting that Nebraska and Iowa will both win 8 games this year, that would put Wisconsin as the victor in the West, with a ticket to the B1G championship.

Besides the schedule, Badger fans have reason to be optimistic. The running game has reloaded again, and, as I mentioned before, we're in year 2 of the new defense, which should eliminate some of the growing pains. Sure, there are big questions, particularly at the front seven and in the receiving corps, but I still think Wisconsin has enough to get by the majority of its schedule even with those issues.

They've succeeded before with similar question marks - in 2010 - and they can do it again. Wisconsin simply does not need a potent air attack to succeed as a football team. All Wisconsin needs is a good enough passing game. Just enough to keep defenses honest. I think they will have that with their QB/receiving combo, regardless of whether Joel Stave or Tanner McEvoy is under center.

(Personally, though, I'm rooting for McEvoy as I have reservations about the health of Stave's shoulder and I'm excited by the mobility that McEvoy potentially brings.)

II. Discovery

A. What we've written

B1G 2014 // Wisconsin Hate

B1G 2014 // Wisconsin Potluck (SMELT!)

B1G 2014 // Wisconsin's Smartest Guy in the Room

BIG 2014 // Wisconsin Cocktail Party Preview

B. What we can learn from pop culture

Nine wins minimum? Oh that feels pretty good. Pretty good indeed.

C. Emotional Plea

I can't convince you to like Wisconsin. (Though, honestly, why hate us? We have cheese. And beer. And sausage. What did the sausage ever do to you?)

No, I can't make you cheer for the Badgers (but, really, it's not like we're more obnoxious than Ohio State or Michigan. And I'm not even going to start with MSU fans. I mean, lesser of four evils, right? At least give us that much?)

But, I can make you believe. I can make you see what I see. I see an extremely soft schedule, a talented coaching staff over its growing pains, and a reloaded running game that might be even better than last year's version. (JET SWEEEEEEEEP).

There are holes. But they are not fatal to this team's chances of winning the West and ending the season with at least nine wins.

III. The Verdict

The OTE staff has Wisconsin right on the bubble between 10 and 9 win season. MC ClapYoHandz, Candystripes, and Graham are the most optimistic, predicting an 11 win season, while baba and Brian think that UW only gets to 8 wins.

Overall, OTE thinks that the Badgers drop one non-con game (probably to LSU) and one conference game (Iowa? Nebraska? Purdue? Haha just kidding on that last one.)

Name

W

L

CW

CL

Aaron Y

10

2

7

1

Aaron R

9

3

6

2

Green Akers

9

3

6

2

Brian

8

4

6

2

GoAUpher

9

3

6

2

Ray Random

10

2

7

1

MN Wildcat

9

3

6

2

DJ Carver

9

3

6

2

MC ClapYoHandz

11

1

8

0

Candystripes

11

1

8

0

Eric S

9

3

6

2

Graham

11

1

8

0

Hilary

10

2

7

1

baboreally

8

4

5

3

Jesse

10

2

7

1

Mike

10

2

8

0

GoForThree

9

3

6

2

Avg.

9.5

2.5

Conf Avg.

6.6

1.4