At the beginning of this season, if I were to tell you that the Wisconsin football team would be entering their final game with a chance to go to the Big Ten Championship Game if they win, I don’t think you would be surprised. What might surprise you is how the Badgers got to this point.
The expectations for the Wisconsin football team heading into this 2021 season were sky-high. Coming off of a disappointing 2020 campaign, the Badgers were returning a majority of their starters while adding transfer running back Chez Mellusi to the running back room that already featured Jalen Berger, who showed a lot of promise as a true freshman last season. The Badgers were favorites to win every game they played this year before the season started.
A lot has changed since the beginning of the season.
The Wisconsin football team started the season in a ranked matchup with Penn State, falling in a heartbreaker when Mertz threw a pair of interceptions. The Badgers didn’t do themselves any favors, getting to the red zone consistently but failing to score on multiple occasions.
That trend continued for the Badgers in the next few weeks. After a win at home against Eastern Michigan, the Badgers dropped a couple of big games against Notre Dame and Michigan. After four games, the Badgers are sitting at 1-3. Definitely not the start the Wisconsin football team or their fans had envisioned.
Then things started to turn around for the Badgers. Part of the turnaround was the emergence of true freshman running back Braelon Allen.
After the Michigan loss, the Badgers started to get into their division schedule when they traveled to Illinois first. A 24-0 shutout gave the Badgers a little more momentum heading into their game with Army. But a win over Illinois didn’t raise any eyebrows because that’s a game Wisconsin was expected to win, despite their 1-3 record.
The next week the Badgers defeated Army at home, 20-14. This was a very weird game due to the offense the Black Knights ran. This was also the second game Allen ran for over 100 yards on the ground.
With the emergence of Allen, the Badgers had a great 1-2 punch with him and Mellusi, which was necessary after Jalen Berger entered the transfer portal.
The Badgers continued their winning way by rattling off wins over #25 Purdue on the road, #9 Iowa at home, a 52-3 drubbing of Rutgers on the road, and two more wins at home over Northwestern and Nebraska.
So while the Badgers are on a seven-game winning streak, not everything has been perfect. They have had to deal with some injuries to some key players, including running back Chez Mellusi, who went down with a leg injury in their win over Rutgers.
Luckily, Braelon Allen has turned into one of the most polarizing players in the country right now. He has seven straight games with 100+ yards rushing and is coming off of his first-ever 200+ yard game against Nebraska when he ran for 228 yards on 22 carries and added in three touchdowns.
Now, despite the early losses, losing tons of players in the transfer portal, and dealing with injuries, the Badgers are still in a prime spot to win the Big Ten West. All they need to do is beat Minnesota and they are Indianapolis-bound.
If you would have told me that they would be in this position after they lost to Michigan, I would have told you that you were crazy. Yet, here we are.
This Wisconsin football team has had so many ups and downs this season but they are still 8-3 and in a great position, and I think a big reason for that is this coaching staff. Some wanted Chryst fired early in the season, but he’s shown me, even more, this year that he is the right man to lead this program right now.
No matter how the game goes this week, this Wisconsin football team is special and they’ve shown it this year.