Wisconsin Football: 247Sports reporters make their Big Ten picks

Oct 23, 2020; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; the Wisconsin Badgers gather on the field prior to the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 23, 2020; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; the Wisconsin Badgers gather on the field prior to the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

After a down 2020 season, the Wisconsin football team is primed for a bounceback year. The 18 reporters at 247Sports who made their picks for the 2021 Big Ten season seem to think so as well.

These reporters made various picks about the upcoming 2021 season. They picked division winners, conference champs, player of the year, coach of the year, and more. Let’s take a look at where the Wisconsin football team and its players landed in these categories.

Predicted order of finish

The Badgers were the unanimous favorites to finish atop the Big Ten West division. They received all 18 first-place votes and earned a total of 126 points. Behind the Badgers were Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue, and Illinois finishing last. The popular belief is that the Big Ten West will likely come down to Wisconsin and Iowa.

On the opposite side, Ohio St. was the unanimous no. 1 team, followed by Penn St., Indiana, Michigan, Rutgers, Maryland, and Michigan St.

In their picks for the Big Ten Champion, all 18 reporters picked Ohio St. to win the conference, presumably over the Wisconsin football team.

Big Ten Player of the Year

There was a two-way tie at the top for the Big Ten Player of the Year voting. Indiana quarterback Michael Pennix Jr. and Ohio St. quarterback CJ Stroud each earned five votes.

Behind Pennix Jr. and Stroud are OSU receiver Chris Olave (3 votes), PSU receiver Jahan Dotson (2), Rutgers LB Olakunle Fatusaki (1), Graham Mertz (1), and OSU receiver Garrett Wilson (1). It’s nice to see a Badger represented on this list.

There are some big expectations for Graham Mertz in a normal season. He showed some glimpses of what he was capable of against Illinois in the opener last season before fighting injuries and covid last season.

Big Ten Coach of the Year

Not surprisingly, Ohio St. head coach Ryan Day is the favorite to win this award. He earned seven votes for this award. Wisconsin football head coach Paul Chryst wasn’t far behind, however. He earned five votes to win the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, an award he has won in 2016 and 2017.

After Day and Chryst are Rutgers’ Greg Schiano (3 votes), Indiana’s Tom Allen (2), and Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck (1).

Big Ten Game of the Year

The Wisconsin football team has a nice schedule this year, including a big non-conference matchup with Notre Dame this year. Their conference schedule, however, does not include a game against Ohio St. There is a big conference game that the reporters are keeping an eye on, and that’s their matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes, which could very well decide the Big Ten West this year.

The Wisconsin-Iowa game earned two votes, behind two Ohio St. games, OSU vs. Indiana (6 votes) and OSU vs. Penn St (8).

Bold predictions

The Wisconsin football team also appeared in a bold prediction by Iowa reporter, David Eickholt. He thinks the Wisconsin-Iowa matchup will decide the West division.

"I expect Ohio State to roll through the Big Ten East, so let’s turn our attention to the Big Ten West. I expect Iowa’s showdown with Wisconsin on October 30 to decide the winner of the West. I’ll never count out Northwestern with Pat Fitzgerald at the helm, but I believe Wisconsin and Iowa are a notch above the rest. Look for Tyler Goodson to put together a second straight first team all-Big Ten campaign and emerge as one of the better backs in the country."

Evan Flood’s (Badger247) bold prediction is that Michigan will move on from Jim Harbaugh if the Wolverines have a subpar season.

There are high expectations for the Wisconsin football season. Many think they are Indy-bound again for yet another rematch with the Buckeyes. Will this be the year they can shock the world and get that monkey off their back and win the Big Ten this year?

This is going to be a fun season, but anything less than a Big Ten Championship appearance will be a big letdown for a lot of Wisconsin football fans.