A new year and new opponents await the University of Wisconsin football team, and many critics are saying this year is going to be a walk in the park for the Badgers.
Many people, however, seem to have forgotten that nothing ever seems to come easily for this Wisconsin team. Starting off the season with the departures of some of the most talented players and injuries already plaguing this team, this year seems like it is going to be a bit of a struggle for UW.
For starters, there are not that many games against any of the major Big Ten East teams. With Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State all missing from this year’s schedule, the Badgers are not going to get much quality experience from the Big Ten East.
This experience is necessary for the Badgers if they want to make it back to the Big Ten tournament this year — and win. With so many power schools missing from this year’s schedule, Wisconsin will find themselves going into Indianapolis this year with little practical experience against the team they will be facing.
One of the other problems is their opening, non-conference schedule. The Badgers are facing three relatively inexperienced schools who will offer little to no insight on UW’s weaknesses. Schools like Florida Atlantic, who the Badgers will play Sept. 9th, will most likely be a walk in the park.
This does not help when you consider that after these three games, Wisconsin will face Northwestern in their first Big Ten game of the season. Northwestern has an even better non-conference schedule than Wisconsin, playing Bowling Green, Duke and Nevada within the first three weeks of play — which will help them in the long run.
This means that the Badgers will have to fix their mistakes immediately if they want to keep their Big Ten record competitive enough to ensure their spot at the Big Ten Championship game. That kind of pressure could be suffocating for the team, and it means that one small mistake could be a disaster for this team
Since Wisconsin doesn’t see much of the Big Ten East, that also means they will save their record from some potential losses. Not seeing schools like Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State means Wisconsin will not have to worry so much week to week about their record and their standings within the Big Ten.
Another benefit of not seeing the Big Ten East as much this year is that it lowers the chances of injuries happening. Schools like Penn State and Ohio State tend to be aggressive defensively, which can lead to injuries. Injuries like these, which tend to happens late in the season, can be devastating when proceeding into the later part of December.
The worst part of the schedule
The last two weeks of the regular season are probably the toughest for Wisconsin. The Badgers will close out their home season run against Michigan, which is arguably one of the best teams in the Big Ten. While this game does take place in Camp Randall, it also means that the Badgers could end their season on a bad note while home.
The next weekend of the schedule is not much better, with Wisconsin heading to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota. Typically, the Battle for the Axe is an intense game to begin with, but taking on the Gophers at home is going to be one of the more tougher games this season.
Wisconsin is looking at taking the Axe home for the thirteenth year, and taking on the Gophers in the heart of TCF Bank stadium is one of the hardest challenges known to Badger football.
After those two games, the Badgers hope to head into the Big Ten Conference game, which will hopefully result in the Badgers heading to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl in January.
What the Badgers are saying
“We are in the Big Ten, and it’s not like we’re second class to any division in this league. Any game is a game that we have to prepare for. Nothing is ever going to come easy to us.”
“The Big Ten, overall, is well-rounded. Even a 3-10 team can compete [against the best teams]. This is a tough division. The east division is extremely tough, with Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State all in the same division. Ohio State and Michigan used to play in the Big Ten championship game, but now they can’t. Those match-ups cause a lot of ruckus and a lot of upsets.”
“A lot of people doubt our defense, especially after losing so many great players. We feel like our defense is even better than last year. People just doubt our team in general. We’re trying to do a lot more than we did last year.”