Season Preview 2012: Sahil's Take

COLLEGE GAMEDAY HAS ARRIVED!!! Finally something to get excited about. Rich thinks the Badgers will be 10-2 this season. My prediction is similar though I believe the Badgers will not make it to Pasadena for a 3rd consecutive season. Here’s a best case/worst case scenario for the team followed by my realistic outlook on how the Badgers will fare in 2012.

Best Case: The 2012 Wisconsin Badgers run the table and 12-0 in regular season play heading into the 2nd annual B1G Championship Game. The Badgers open up with an as always easy non-conference schedule. The toughest of those 4 games will be against Oregon State, mainly because they are a PAC-12 team and the game is in Corvallis. Opening conference play at Nebraska will pose a problem, but Wisconsin will get over their road woes and come out with a win. Arguably Wisconsin’s two toughest games this season will be against Michigan State and Ohio State, but luckily those games will be at home where the Badgers don’t lose.

The Badgers will get out of regular season without any losses and head to the B1G title game with a lot of momentum. They’ll likely face Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska from the Legends Division. Wisconsin will win their 3rd consecutive conference title and win BCS National Championship game, either against USC or a team from the SEC. A man can dream, right?? Record: 14-0

Worst Case: The Badgers run the non-conference slate, but get a rude awakening at Nebraska to open conference play. Nebraska is still reeling from last year’s 48-17 thrashing at the hands of Wisconsin and will have revenge on their minds. Wisconsin will run into a couple bumps against Illinois and Purdue before the big showdowns against Michigan State and Ohio State at home. The final regular season game in Happy Valley will be a letdown for Wisconsin as Penn State treats the game as their bowl game. Sadly, the Badgers miss out on even playing for their 3rd consecutive conference title and go to the Gator Bowl. I can’t see this happening, but anything is possible. Record: 7-6

My Highly Scientific and Realistic Case: The Badgers actually win all of their road games, including at Nebraska. They will beat Michigan State at home for a signature win against a top ten defense. The Badgers will get a big win and make a statement yet again at home against Urban Meyer and Ohio State. The Badgers will beat Penn State and head to their 3rd consecutive B1G title game against either Michigan State, Michigan or Nebraska. The Badgers will lose this time (though I can see them beating Michigan if they faced each other) and find themselves in the Fiesta Bowl. The computers will recognize their wins against Michigan State, Ohio State, and at Nebraska as enough to give them a BCS bowl bid. Plus, Badger fans travel well! Most likely facing a less stout defense than what Badgers see during the season against the likes of Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Penn State, I predict Montee Ball and Chris Borland will anchor this team to a Fiesta Bowl victory. Record: 12-2

Overall: The Badgers will hit a few bumps while adjusting to new coaches, a new QB and new WRs. But, Montee Ball is back, Danny O’Brien is poised to start a new chapter in Wisconsin, and Chris Borland and Mike Taylor are back to anchor what will be a stronger defense than 2011. Special Teams coverage should be much better. Wisconsin will fight through those bumps and still make it a great season. Even though they will lose the conference title and a chance for a 3rd straight Rose Bowl appearance, a win in the BCS Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is not a bad 2nd prize.