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B1G 2021, Potluck #4: Predicting how the Wisconsin Badgers finish 2021

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A date with Notre Dame, a cushy back half of the schedule...is this the schedule of a playoff contender?

183rd Munich Oktoberfest Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images

Thanks for sticking with us during Wisconsin Week throughout that little SBNation/Vox power outage this morning!

Sorry about the disruption to your regularly-scheduled wisconsin programming.

As is our Thursday tradition, we’ve got a Predictions Potluck for you! Today we’re talking festivals, festbier, and, shitting relentlessly on Notre Dame—while telling you how the badgers will finish in 2021.

The Food: Grab a Beer and Head to the Lakefront!

Live, go to grad school, or even just spend a little time in Milwaukee, and you’ll know that it’s a city of many names: Brew City. The Good Land. Cream City.

(That last one’s for the color of the bricks. Get your head out of the gutter.)

With those names, as well, is the City of Festivals.

Whether you want Irish Fest, German Fest, Polish Fest, the Highland Games, Festa Italiana, Bastille Days, Bronzeville Week, the Dragon Boat Races, Fiesta, the Hunting Moon Pow Wow, Christkindlmarket, Summerfest basically anything—Milwaukee will make sure the beer’s cold and the party’s started.

Speaking of beer, a few places in Wisconsin make a mean Oktoberfest beer! Yesterday, in the Fanshots, WestCoast_RU shared a link to the “Best Beer Spot in Every State”. That link highlighted Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee, praising its cheese curds, beer hall, My Turn series of one-off beers designed by employees, and the funniest damn brewery tour you’ll ever take. (It features the crowning of a Bung Queen and a reenactment of the Laverne and Shirley intro, to the bemusement of the kids and amusement of the olds.)

UST-LAKEMICHIGAN-BEER William DeShazer/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

With all that said, writers, not much else to do...
(1) Milwaukee. Discuss. Any festivals you’ve been there for, non-Miller/Schlitz/Pabst beer you’ve had, recommendations, etc.?

(2) Give us the festival—ethnic or otherwise—that’s a must-visit near you.

(3) If there’s an Oktoberfest beer we’ve not tried that we should be trying, you tell us right this damn instant.

WSR: (1) I went to Milwaukee to watch opening day between the Brewers and the Barry Bonds-led Giants in 2003. It was cold and wet and miserable. People pulled up to tailgate in Uhauls and just took loveseats and grills and kegs of Miller High Life out of the back (which I still believe is a great idea). Some asshole behind us in the outfield was using Spanish soccer taunts towards Barry Bonds. It was mediocre, and I would recommend avoiding Milwaukee.

(2) Maybe go to Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit in Minneapolis during Oktoberfest and be happy?

(3) Schell’s, the brewery responsible for Grain Belt, makes the best goddamn Oktoberfest you’ll ever drink.

Beez: (1) I’ve been to Milwaukee a bunch of times, mostly to visit relatives and watch the Crew. I went to see Ben Folds at Summerfest one year, but I have no memory of having ever drank beer in Milwaukee...

(2) The National Folk Festival was in Greensboro a couple times in the past few years. Takes up most of downtown, is very cool, and is extremely hot and white. You can always find some sort of barbeque fest down here as well, and every city has their own dang way-too-big fair, also when it’s hot. In the “in memoriam” section, please spare a moment for the memory of the Twin Cities Rib Fest. It was insanely expensive, but it gave you the chance to try about 10 different kinds of ribs and, yes, sweat a ton.

(3) Oktoberfest beers are perfectly fine, if you’re into that thing, but they primarily anger me because all they mean is “it’s still not quite time for Foothills’s pumpkin beer to be released.”

Kind of...: (1) Summerfest is a must. Let me share the acts I’ve seen and you let me know if it’s a good opportunity for people-watching: Lauryn Hill, Kid Rock, Martha Wainwright, .38 Special, REO Speedwagon. And that was just two visits in the last 90s/early 00s. WSR is right about Brewers tailgates. They’re pretty great.

(2) My festival game is pretty weak, so let me just recommend the Essen Haus in Madison. Any visit can be it’s own mini-PolkaFest/Oktoberfest.

(3) Staying in Milwaukee, I’m perfectly fine with Sprecher’s Oktoberfest. Last year had Victory’s Festbier, which was also quite good.

MNW: Here was my old Milwaukee to-do:

  • Go to south of the Third Ward to Walkers Point.
  • Start with the distillery tour and/or cocktails at Great Lakes Distillery (I personally loved to grab their absinthe when it was just down the road from my apartment).
  • Walk kitty-corner across the street from some delicious, cheap Mexican food (cash only) at Conejito’s.
  • Then walk a block down the street to MobCraft Beer.

You’ll be in bed by 3pm.

Schell’s in New Ulm, as WSR mentioned, not only makes the best Oktoberfest beer around but also has both a great Oktoberfest and a great Bockfest in the spring. If you are ever anywhere remotely nearby, you need to make this a place to go.

As a matter of fact, my wife and I do a mini-Oktoberfest every fall when we have a free night. I pick up brats and sauerkraut, make some spaetzle and a comically-cheap pretzel, and we grab 5-6 different cans of Oktoberfest and other assorted German beers from Ombibulous in Northeast Minneapolis:

It’s a great time.

BRT: I’d just like to note that naming your city after the color of the bricks is a notably lame move. Not everyone can be “First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity,” but come on. I’ve gone to Milwaukee a couple of times, but without really spending much time in the city, if that makes sense. I did really enjoy touring the Pabst Mansion, but I’m pretty much always here for historical displays of monetary excess.

The ethnic festival of note as far as I’m concerned is Czech Days. There are many accordions. In the early 20th century, one quarter of all Czechs who immigrated to the US settled in Nebraska (including my paternal forebears), so it’s a good chance to get yourself a proper kolach. Texans tend to make theirs too fluffy and with too little filling, but like most things in Texas, they attach a great deal of hubris to the resulting mediocrity.

(Yes, yes, pot kettle, haha you’re very funny.)

The Football: Hey, it’s Notre Dame!

This, uh...this is a tricky one?

Penn State in a /whoknows kind of opener. Notre Dame at Soldier Field. The husk of Michigan. Army?!

That’s a minefield-laden top half of the schedule, and we didn’t even mention the RETURN OF THE BERT at Memorial Stadium, where on its last trip wisconsin got walked off by Illinois. Lots of fun, lots of potential!

With that back half, though, it’s easy as all get-out to see the badgers picking up steam and rolling to at least an 8-0 finish, if not more. Getting the two best teams in the West—and Nebraska—at home will be a boon for wisconsin, and Minnesota remains a free space until proven otherwise.

Questions, of course, remain. Can the wisconsin defense keep reloading? Do they have the answer at running back, or will some quarterback play concerns rear their ugly head?

This is a schedule, though, that is set up to give wisconsin a smooth run to the Big Ten Championship and maybe a Rose Bowl, if only they can seize it.

So, writers:
(1) Take us through a memory of Notre Dame losing that brings a little warmth to your cold, dead heart.

(2) Tell us how wisconsin finishes in 2021. Show your work.

WSR: (1) I dunno, it looks like I may need to paint a shamrock on my ass on September 25th. After all, Notre Dame has a real and legitimate connection to people of Irish descent, not just some bullshit marketing schpiel.

(2) No clue. They’re losing to Notre Dame, and Mertz will probably cost them 3-4ish more games if he’s the QB and they try passing. If they follow the recipe of running the ball and playing defense, it’ll be another 10-2/9-3ish season with decent bowl against an SEC team that doesn’t care. Don’t ask me to pick which teams in the B1G will beat them, because of that day and hour knows no man. The badgers will continue to be the dumb Wolverines of decades past, without the half of a national title since desegregation.

Beez: (1) One time Notre Dame made the national championship game on the strength of the dumbest possible Heisman campaign, built partially on a lie about a player’s dead girlfriend, and then got obliterated like they were MSU in the CFB playoff or Minnesota in a 2019 game that could have won them the division.

(2) That schedule could very easily be 3-3 that turns into 9-3. I’m less confident in a win over Notre Dame than I would have been last year, and I have no idea how PSU is going to look, but Wisconsin should be the favorite in all but the ND game this season (if you put out betting lines today, I mean). I’m not remotely concerned about this Wisconsin defense against gimmicky-ass Army. My guess is 1-2 losses in the first half and 0-1 (very dumb) losses in the second half, which means a loss in OSU in the CCG and a bowl win over a 4/5-loss team in a game that doesn’t really mean anything.

Kind of...:

(1) Oh my, how much space do we have? Here are a few that jump to mind. 58-7 to Miami in Gerry Faust’s last game in 1985. The 41-39 home loss to BC in 1993 the week after upsetting #1 FSU, which allowed FSU to win the natty despite head-to-head loss. 41-9 to Oregon State in 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Everything about Charlie Weis’ 3-9 season in 2007. I could go on...

(2) I’ll say 9-3/7-2 and a B1G West crown. UW has lost (at least) their last four to PSU and a couple were a little weird, so, until UW beats them again, I’ll call that a loss. Other conference loss will either be @Purdue or @Minn (*shudders*), but won’t undo the H2H wins over NW and Iowa. If they go 9-3, it’ll be Jan. 1 in Florida. If they win 10, then NY6 possibly. I laughed at WSR’s “SEC team that doesn’t care” characterization because 1) somewhat oddly, UW hasn’t had a bowl matchup with an SEC team since Chryst arrived, and 2) it’s clear he’s still thinking of the salad days of 2019 Minnesota.

MNW: Man, take you through one of the funniest, stupidest football days of my life? Well, let’s go back to 2014...

That remains, I think, the dumbest Northwestern victory I’ve ever watched in person. What an amazing day. Stupid Notre Dame.

Regarding wisconsin, I walked you through pretty much exactly what I thought would happen. One or two trip-ups in the front half of that schedule, and a coast to the finish. I’ll notch on a loss against Iowa or Minnesota, since I’m likely going with friends to the Northwestern game, which means the ‘Cats will lose by 30.

That means the badgers finish somewhere in the 9-3 (7-2) neighborhood.

BRT: Wisconsin ends up 9-3. They lose to Penn State, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. Why? Because. I refuse to show my work.

RockyMtnBlue: Sorry I’m late. 2011 Michigan/Notre Dame was a fun, entertaining shit-show of a game. The last 35 seconds of that game will haunt Notre Dame fans for life. It’s a fond memory for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsHbCfgPA1c

Wisconsin in 2021. Cold hard math says 9-3 (7-2). Good enough for a title game trouncing and a Rose Bowl berth.

Wisconsin win chances

Where Who What Why
Where Who What Why
vs Penn State 50 Which was the lie? Penn State's offense in the first half of 2020, or Wisconsin's offense in the second half?
vs Eastern Mich 100 Sorry, EMU. This isn't MSU from the early 90s.
Soldier Field Catholic Criminals 50 On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin! Plunge right through that line their faces!
vs Michigan 90 My greatest disappointment of 2020 is that I was too lazy to set up a betting account to bet on Wisconsin. Not this year.
@ Illinois 80 Bert's gonna have something special. It won't be special enough.
vs Army 90 So. Much. Running.
@ Purdue 70 Kyle Orton was the last Purdue QB to beat Wisconsin. Let that sink in a moment.
vs Iowa 60 This game will be ugly. Wiscy gets the home team bounce.
@ Rutgers 90 Rutgers is not the complete dumpster fire it used to be. Won't matter.
vs Northwestern 70 It's an odd-numbered year. Northwestern gets eaten.
vs Nebraska 80 I'll believe Wisconsin loses this game when I see it.
@ Minnesota 70 Ditto

Poll

How does wisconsin finish in the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    3-6 or worse
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    4-5
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    5-4
    (4 votes)
  • 18%
    6-3
    (40 votes)
  • 29%
    7-2
    (65 votes)
  • 26%
    8-1
    (57 votes)
  • 15%
    9-0
    (33 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How does wisconsin finish overall?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    5-7 or worse
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    6-6
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    7-5
    (3 votes)
  • 14%
    8-4
    (31 votes)
  • 33%
    9-3
    (71 votes)
  • 25%
    10-2
    (54 votes)
  • 16%
    11-1 or better
    (35 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now