Last season, the Badgers had high expectations with lots of players returning. Many pundits and fans had them playing in the Big Ten Championship or a New Years Six bowl game. They even opened the 2021 season ranked as high as 12th. Instead, the Badgers performed well below expectations. Wisconsin got off to an embarrassing 1-3 start, but were able to win seven of eight games late. They had an opportunity to go to the Big Ten Championship but lost to Minnesota in Minneapolis for the first time since 2003 to keep them from going. Wisconsin finished the regular season with an overall record of 8-4 and 6-3 in the Big Ten, including a win against 9th ranked Iowa.

The Badgers then settled for an appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl where they defeated Arizona State 20-13. This was Wisconsin’s 20th year in a row of going to a bowl game. Only Oklahoma and Georgia have gone to more consecutive bowl games.

Due to issues caused by COVID-19 in 2021, the Big-Ten reshuffled everyone’s schedule. Some games changed weeks and locations. Games that got moved around include Illinois State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Illinois and Maryland.

Win: Illinois State

Wisconsin will open the 2022 season against the FCS Illinois State Red Birds. This is the first time since 2012 that Wisconsin has faced an FCS opponent. It will also be Wisconsin’s first time ever facing Illinois State; however, this will be a cake walk for the Badgers. I expect to see players who get little or no playing time to see the field and starters pulled by halftime or earlier.

Win: Washington State

Washington State is a program that’s heading downhill. While they did finish with a winning record, they only beat two teams with a .500 or better record. They even had to replace their head coach during the season. Wisconsin beat the Cougars in a blowout win at Camp Randall in 2007. The Cougars also struggle defensively, especially against the run, allowing an average of 160.5 yards per game. Expect Braelon Allen and more to run wild.

Win: New Mexico State

This is a tune up game for Ohio State. Jerry Kill has taken over as the new head coach for the Aggies. In his career, Kill has never victorious against Wisconsin, both at Northern Illinois and Minnesota. The Aggies have only had four winning seasons since 1967, and did not appear in a bowl game until 2017. It’ll be the second cupcake game in two weeks for Wisconsin. Badger starters will probably be pulled at halftime. You can expect to see the backend of the roster get some playing time.

Loss: The Ohio State

Wisconsin hasn’t won in Columbus since 2004. The Ohio State is coming back with a vengeance this season, and this Badger team will have a hard time competing with that. I’d be happy if Wisconsin kept the score within ten.

Win: Illinois

Bret Bielema makes his return to Madison for the first time since 2012. His Illini are still rebuilding and probably aren’t ready to compete with the Badgers yet. While Illinois had some surprising wins last season, they haven’t won at Camp Randall since 2002 and the talent gap is still very wide.

Win: Northwestern

This is arguably a trap game, and it will very likely determine how the Badgers season is going to go. Wisconsin has not won at Ryan Field since 2016. While the “Ryan Field curse” is a real thing, I don’t think it’ll affect the Badgers much this year. Northwestern has lots question marks, particularly at quarterback and in the secondary. They’ve also lost some key players to the transfer portal. The Badgers feast on teams that have quarterback issues. While Pat Fitzgerald’s team have been known for bouncing back, but the talent to do that isn’t there this year. While it won’t be a walk in the park, I’m not expecting the Badgers to have major problems here.

Loss: Michigan State

Michigan State will be just coming off a game against Ohio State and might be looking ahead to Michigan. Wisconsin will also be running into former running back Jalen Berger who just transferred to Michigan State. Berger had been dismissed from Wisconsin due to a violation of team rules. These teams play each infrequently, but the Badgers have had mixed results against the Spartans. Right now, Michigan State is the better team. This game could go either way and I think it’ll be a close one regardless.

Win: Purdue

While world around us has changed, one thing that has remained the same is Wisconsin beating Purdue. While Purdue is no longer a push over team, the Boilermakers haven’t beat Wisconsin at all since 2003. Wisconsin also seems to score its most points against Purdue. It’ll also be homecoming weekend making the environment even more favorable for Wisconsin.

Win: Iowa

Kinnick Stadium is known for being a difficult stadium to play in. It is, after all, where undefeated seasons go to die. Fortunately for the Badgers, they’ve only lost once in Iowa City in the past ten years. Prior to 2020, Wisconsin had a five-game win streak against the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. A big reason for that streak ending was most of Wisconsin’s receiving corps was injured. I expect this game to be an old school Big Ten defensive struggle. I think Iowa’s struggles on offense will allow the Badgers to edge the Hawkeyes.  

Win: Nebraska

Fortunately, there is no Adrian Martinez to deal with this time. Wisconsin has also never lost to Nebraska since joining the Big Ten. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott Frost is fired by the time this game comes around. The Badgers might as well keep the Freedom Trophy forever at this point.

Win: Minnesota

Last year’s frustrating loss to the Gophers is all the motivation Wisconsin will need got get the axe back. Between losing Paul Bunyan’s Axe and not going to the Big Ten Championship this team has this game circled. Like the Iowa game, it has the billing of an old school Big Ten game. I expect the Badgers to win the axe back clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship.

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Eric Katz

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