After two consecutive trips to the Big Ten Championship Game as the top team in the West Division, the Wisconsin Badgers took a bit of a step back in 2019. A record of 8-5 is below the expectation in Madison in recent years and the fewest wins scored by the Badgers since 2012. But the season ended on a winning note with a victory in the Pinstripe Bowl against Miami, the second straight postseason with a victory over the Hurricanes, and the hopes are high once again for a potential run to a division crown.
However, Wisconsin's schedule is no cakewalk. A cross-division rotation that includes home games against Michigan and Michigan State and takes the Badgers into Columbus to face Ohio State is the toughest cross-division rotation any Big Ten team will face this season. But the Badgers get some of their biggest division games at home (Iowa and Northwestern, and perhaps Purdue) in Madison to potentially counterbalance the strength of schedule a bit. It is arguably the toughest schedule in the Big Ten this fall.
So how many wins are on the board for Wisconsin in 2019? That is where our panel comes in to weigh some opinions.
Wisconsin Football Game-By-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Wisconsin slipped to 8-5 last fall, but coach Paul Chryst’s team should easily rebound back into Big Ten West Division title contention this fall. It’s no secret Jonathan Taylor is one of college football’s top returning players, and there’s a good foundation up front despite only one returning starter (Tyler Biadasz). In order to return to Indianapolis, the Badgers have to get more production (and consistent play) from their quarterbacks and shore up a few concerns on defense. While those question marks hang over the team in fall practice, the Badgers get key games against Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Michigan at home. With a tough crossover (Michigan, Michigan State and at Ohio State) slate, Chryst’s team won’t have much margin for error in a tight West Division battle.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Sorting out the Big Ten West is not an easy task. You can make a strong case that six of the seven teams (sorry Illinois) could win the division. As a result, there are a bunch of swing games that will be the difference in a 3–6 or 7–2 record for teams such as Wisconsin. I'll split the difference and go with 5–4, with the Badgers generally taking care of business at home and struggling on the road. The final four weeks will be fascinating, as UW plays four games against Big Ten West teams. Could the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe decide the division champ? That would great.
Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB)
A recurring theme I have shared this offseason is the idea that the Big Ten West is about as open as it has been in a long time, and as many as six teams could potentially come out on top of it. Wisconsin has plenty of reason to feel confident they will be the team ending the year in Indianapolis out of the West due in part to having some strong offensive line pieces and running back Jonathan Taylor. The two biggest hurdles for Wisconsin will be consistency in the passing game with an unproven quarterback situation and the schedule. The schedule-makers did Wisconsin few favors this season and it may force Wisconsin to run the table in division play to stay ahead of the competition in the West. I think Wisconsin takes a few bumps along the way but manages to weather the storm enough to improve their win total this fall.