The Wisconsin football program is one of the most consistent programs in the Big Ten Conference. Year after year, they are competing for a division championship and an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game.
This year, expectations remain high for the Badgers, even after a disappointing 2020 season.
Anthony Treash and Eric Eager of ProFootball Focus released a projection of wins and title probabilities for each team in the Big Ten Conference, and they have Wisconsin finishing third in the conference in both categories.
They ran 10,000 simulations of each team’s regular-season schedule. Based on their simulations, they give Wisconsin football a 26% chance to reach the Big Ten title game, an 11% chance to win the Big Ten Championship game, and a projected win total of 8.2 games this season.
From Treash and Eager:
"Graham Mertz, the No. 3 pro-style quarterback prospect in the 2019 class, had one of the best starting debuts we have seen in the PFF College era. Against Illinois to begin the 2020 season, he didn’t throw a single uncatchable ball while tossing three big-time throws en route to a 93.9 passing grade. He then reportedly suffered a shoulder injury in Wisconsin’s next game against Michigan but played through it. That partly explains why he earned a poor 53.4 passing grade over his last five games, far from the passer we saw to open the year. If Mertz is fully healthy and returns to a high level of play, then this Badgers offense could be a top-three unit in the Big Ten.Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s defense is also set up to be a top-three group in the conference. The group ranked third among all Power Five programs in expected points added allowed per play last season and returns its three most valuable players: Off-ball linebackers Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal and cornerback Faion Hicks. The Badgers employ one of the blitz-heaviest systems in the country, and they have groomed Sanborn and Chenal into premier players in that role. Wisconsin’s linebacker room led the Power Five in pass-rush grade by nearly eight points in 2020."
In case you were wondering, they project Ohio St. to finish in first, with a 69% chance to reach the title game, a 48% chance to win the game, and a win total of 10.4 games this season.
Iowa is just ahead of Wisconsin with a 44% chance to reach the title game, a 17% chance to win the title game, and a win total of 8.4 games this season.
It’s early, but a lot of predictions are pointing to the Big Ten West coming down to Iowa and Wisconsin. The winner of that race will likely face Ohio St. (again) in the Big Ten Championship Game, where the Wisconsin football team has struggled their last few trips.