Week 13 – Wisconsin at Minnesota
Like the Notre Dame and Iowa games, this is a big game for the Badgers. Not only Minnesota could be in the running for the Big Ten West title this season, but they are easily the biggest rival to the Wisconsin football program.
The Badgers have recently dominated the longest-running rivalry in college football. They have won 16 of the last 17 matchups, including the last two meetings. The Badgers lead the all-time series, 62-60-8.
I fully expect this to be a competitive game. The Gophers will have Tanner Morgan and Mohamed Ibrahim to spearhead their offensive attack again. The Badgers snuck out of their matchup last year with a 20-17 win in overtime.
I expect this game to be higher scoring than that, but again, I think the Wisconsin defense will make some big stops in some big moments, giving the Badgers the victory, an undefeated regular season, and a date with Ohio St. in the Big Ten Championship again.
Prediction: Wisconsin 34 – Minnesota 28
Call me crazy, call me biased, or a homer, but I don’t care. I think this is going to be a very good Wisconsin football team. The schedule is very manageable for a team led by Paul Chryst and Jim Leonhard. I think they have a great chance to run the table and go undefeated in the regular season.
For Graham Mertz, another year in the offense to get into a grove with some consistency will be huge. I think we’ll see him play much more confidently than he did in the middle of last season. He will have some solid receiving threats in Davis, Pryor, Ferguson, and Dike. Not to mention newly-added running back Cez Melusi out of the backfield. Jalen Berger will also be in his second season after getting his feet wet last year.
Then there’s the offensive line, which is as stout and deep as I can remember as a Badger fan. They are loaded with talent with even more talent waiting behind them.
But to me, the defense is the crown jewel of this team. It’s hard to win when you can’t score, and that’s what this defense can make it very hard for opposing offenses to score. They have arguably the best linebacking duo in the conference with Sanborn and Chenal. This secondary is an experienced group that has grown into some very solid players.
Between an elite defense and a solid offense, I think this team could very well make some noise. In the best-case scenario, this team wins the Big Ten and makes it to the College Football Playoff. I’m not sure my expectations are that high, but I think they have a good shot at going undefeated in the regular season.