Wisconsin Badgers Football: Looking Ahead to 2017 Schedule

Jan 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; The Wisconsin Badgers players celebrate after defeating the Western Michigan Broncos 24-16 at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; The Wisconsin Badgers players celebrate after defeating the Western Michigan Broncos 24-16 at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming off an impressive 11-win season and a victory in the Cotton Bowl, the Wisconsin Badgers football program is carrying a lot of momentum into the offseason. The 2017 schedule, at this time, looks to shake out nicely for Paul Chryst and company.

No doubt that winning the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Monday was a huge momentum builder for the Wisconsin Badgers football program. From heading into the season with a new defensive coordinator, questions at the quarterback position (again), to a daunting schedule, Wisconsin persevered through it all. And now, head coach Paul Chryst and his program must move “Forward” onto the 2017 season and the schedule that lies ahead.

There’s no SEC opponent to open the season for the first time since 2013. That is something I wish Badgers football would do in the future, maybe not always an SEC opponent, but another team from a Power 5 conference. Regardless, let’s take a look at how the 2017 schedule shakes out for Wisconsin.

Sept. 1 – UTAH STATE
Sept. 16 – at BYU
Sept. 23 – BYE
Oct. 7 – at NEBRASKA
Oct. 14 – PURDUE
Oct. 21 – MARYLAND
Oct. 28 – at ILLINOIS
Nov. 4 – at INDIANA
Nov. 11 – IOWA
Nov. 18 – MICHIGAN
Nov. 25 – at MINNESOTA

As you see, nothing really pops out in the three non-conference games, but there are a few interesting pieces. Utah State opens the season, but that will be a game played on Friday night, something Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney has decided is a grand idea. Not sure if going head-to-head with high school football, especially in the Badger state, is such a great plan but that’s a discussion for another time. Also, the Florida Atlantic game brings some excitement for the simple fact that Lane Kiffin will be in his first year of coaching the Owls. BYU is the only team Wisconsin will face before their bye week that ended the 2016 season with a winning record.

Moving on to the Big Ten schedule, although it is not going to be as difficult as this past season, it’s still a challenging conference tilt. Northwestern could give the Badgers fits as it seems like they have in the past few years. Traveling to Nebraska the next week could be problematic and it’s always a raucous environment at Memorial Stadium.

But after their trip to Lincoln, NE, Wisconsin faces a not-so-difficult middle of the conference schedule. Hosting Purdue and Maryland, as well as going on the road to Illinois and Indiana, should provide this Badgers football team an opportunity to work on things and get back on track if things happen to go awry.

That should set them up nicely for a big run against some tough competition in the final third of the Big Ten schedule. No matter what the records are, facing Iowa, even at home, is never easy. The Badgers had a shot to beat Michigan on the road this past season, but just could not get it done. This will be a great late-season matchup with two teams possibly fighting for a spot in the conference championship game. And then finally the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Wisconsin has held onto the Axe for 13 straight years and Minnesota is chomping at the bit to get it back in their hands. Wisconsin-Minnesota is such a great rivalry and in 2017 it should be no different.

Next: Wisconsin Badgers Capture Cotton Bowl Victory

Coming off the heels of the Cotton Bowl and the end of the season, I by no means will make any predictions for the upcoming season; that will come later. But I can say that this schedule starts off easier (again, no non-conference, Power 5 team scheduled) than 2016 did and Big Ten play will be as well. With that said, this Badgers football squad should expect to be challenged throughout the course of the season and must be at the top of their game to avoid any unforeseeable upsets.