2013-14 Wisconsin Badgers Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/15/2013
The last thing the Badgers were probably expecting to deal with was a coaching change this season. That’s just what they have on their hands, though, thanks to Bret Bielema’s surprising decision to move to Arkansas — a lateral move if there ever was one. I’m probably not in the majority, but I actually think the team is better off now than they were before. Bielema was too often only questionably rational. In Gary Andersen the Badgers made the best hire this side of Lubbock. He did wonders at Utah State, and he is a sharp mind with the temperament and skills to grow this program into a true contender.
Last year was a perfect example of what Bielema’s Badgers were. They were the Big Ten Champions but clearly didn’t belong on the biggest stages. With time, Andersen can truly grow the Big Ten into a three-team conference instead of just the Michigan — Ohio State show. There will be some inevitable transition pains, but Andersen is an asset for this team now and going forward.
While I am not concerned about the coach, the same can’t be said about the QB. Sophomore Joel Stave is the likely starter, as he filled in last year when injuries were a factor. He was only barely competent through the air, though, and he will have to take a giant step forward if this team wants to be a real contender in a tough conference. He’ll be helped by the fact that he has two excellent running backs behind him, a receiver and a tight end with NFL potential, and the typically stout offensive line that the Badgers usually have. Still, it’s hard to imagine this offense being particularly stellar.
The defense is the engine that drove this team last year. Up front it should be the same fierce unit it was. Senior linebacker Chris Borland is an absolute beast, and he leads the way for a front seven that will terrorize opponents. It’s the secondary that is a major concern, though. Three starters are gone, so we are going to see an inexperienced group, and they don’t have the depth there that they do elsewhere. When you look at the schedule there are three or four teams that will really be positioned to pick on that secondary if there are clear weaknesses, so this is really what to watch early as we try to judge this team and what they are capable of.
Wisconsin Schedule Analysis
The Badgers have a significant and unexpected coaching change to deal with this year. Luckily, they get to ease into their new reality with two incredibly simple games — home contests against UMass and Tennessee Tech. Things get dramatically tougher over the next month, though, with only a home game against Purdue to give a rest among brutal road games to Arizona State and Ohio State and a home game against Northwestern.
It is far from certain that Wisconsin can survive that stretch. If they can, though, things again get easier. Road games at Illinois and Iowa, home games against BYU and Indiana, and a trip to Minnesota are all very manageable games. Then they finish at home against a Penn State team that is better than they really have any right to be.
2013-14 Wisconsin Betting Odds and Trends
The Badgers sit at +15000 to win the National Championship — far from an elite level. They are the second choice to win the Leaders Division at +475, though they sit far behind Ohio State at -465. They are the sixth choice at +950 to win the Big Ten. The oddsmakers sure don’t feel like they will be challenged in their opener — they are 45-point favorites against UMass. (All odds are from BetOnline) The Badgers were a disappointing 6-7 ATS last year, but went “over” the total eight times in 12 tries.
2013-14 Wisconsin Badgers Predictions and College Football Picks
As I have said, I am a big believer in Andersen, and I think he will have plenty of long-term success here. It’s going to take a while, though, and this year will have some rocky moments. The team will be far from terrible, but I expect two losses against the three toughest opponents and probably another, more frustrating loss as well. Last year they won their division only because Ohio State wasn’t eligible. With the Buckeyes back in the fold, Wisconsin just isn’t a serious contender. Nine wins is a good target — that would be a successful regular campaign.
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