2021 Wisconsin Badgers Football Predictions: Season Win Total Picks
2020 Record: 4-3
2021 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 9.5
2021 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: ‘Over’
Like a warm bratwurst and a cold beer, there is comfort in the predictability of Wisconsin football.
I almost don’t have to write a season preview for them. I could just copy and paste the same one I wrote in 2008 or 2012 or 2014 or 2017 or literally any other year from the past two decades.
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
Wisconsin is a Top 15 team and a favorite to win their division in the Big Ten. They will bludgeon opponents on offense with an avalanche of a running game. Defensively they will be big enough and physical enough to handle Big Ten pounding but lack the speed to hang with teams from more athletic, pass-wacky conferences. The Badgers will win somewhere around 9-10 games and then eventually play another big-name program a respectable bowl game that is completely inconsequential nationally and important to exactly no one other than the two teams’ fan bases.
That should about cover it.
Wisconsin is a perpetually second-tier college football program. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! There are dozens of schools – hell, there are at least a half-dozen in the Big Ten alone – that would trade places with Wisconsin in a heartbeat. But is that all that there is? Will the Badgers ever punch their way through into that championship level?
If it is ever going to happen for the Badgers, this season offers as good of an opportunity as they may ever get.
The Badgers have 17 starters back from last year’s squad. That includes quarterback Graham Mertz, who won the job from former starter Jack Coan, resulting in Coan’s transfer. Mertz, who is technically a freshman, is actually in his third year in the program. He redshirted his freshman year and then was granted the COVID reprieve. Hopefully that experience translates into a more efficient attack for a Badgers squad that averaged just 25 points per game in 2020.
The Badgers also have six three-year starters back on defense, including seven of their top eight tacklers. The Badgers boasted a Top 10 scoring defense and Top 5 total defense. And if they approach those numbers again, then this team is going to be a factor nationally.
We’re going to know everything we need to know about Wisconsin in the first month of the season. They open the year with maybe their toughest opponent, Penn State. They do get that game in Madison, though. They also get Michigan and Iowa in Camp Randall this year, and their biggest nonconference game (Notre Dame) is on a neutral field in Chicago. This schedule is tailor-made for a special season.
Will that special season happen? History suggests that it won’t.
Look, all the tools are there. And I am playing the Badgers ‘Over’ 9.5 wins. They have won 10 or more in the regular season six times in the last 11 years. Wisconsin has only four true road games this year. There is absolutely no way in hell they are losing three home games. No chance. And if they beat Penn State, and then at least split with Notre Dame and Michigan (whom they play in back-to-back weeks), then this team is in the driver’s seat to potentially go 11-1 and get a crack at Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
I’ll play Wisconsin ‘over’. But I won’t be surprised if this season follows the same path as so many others for Bucky.
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