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Wisconsin Football Preview 2020

Written by: Ben Pekay

Sept. 4 Indiana- Win

Sept. 12 Southern Illinois- Win

Sept. 19 Appalachian State- Win

Sept. 26 @ Michigan- Win

Oct. 3 Notre Dame (in Green Bay)- Loss

Oct. 10 Minnesota- Win

Oct. 24 @ Maryland- Win

Oct. 31 Illinois- Win

Nov. 7 @ Northwestern (at Wrigley Field)- Win

Nov. 14 @ Purdue- Win

Nov. 21 Nebraska- Win

Nov. 28 @ Iowa- Loss

Record: 10-2

The 2020 Wisconsin football season will be more of the same for the Badgers. Since 2016, they have only missed out on the Big Ten Championship once. Wisconsin is always consistent. They have an elite offensive line along with a great running back and a solid defense. The way they go from consistent to great is if they can have an effective passing game. They return Quarterback Jack Coan who had 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns and 5 picks last year. He will have to carry more of the offensive load with star Running Back Jonathan Taylor going to the NFL draft. If Taylor stuck around, he was on pace to be the NCAA all-time leading rusher. Replacing Taylor will probably be either Nakia Watson or Jalen Berger. Watson had 331 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. Berger is an incoming four star recruit. He is a very talented runner and was recruited by the top schools in the country. They also return Tight End Jake Ferguson who had 407 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. He is a solid candidate to be on the All-Big Ten team this year. On the defensive end they are losing Linebackers Zack Baun and Chris Orr who had a combined 24 sacks last year and 154 tackles last year. This won't be a problem for Wisconsin because they lose quality players every year. Replacing them will be Jack Sanborn who had 80 tackles last year and 5.5 sacks. They also return Safety Eric Burrell who had 55 tackles last year and 6 pass deflections. This Wisconsin defense will be one of the better defenses in the nation.

Their first game of the season is against Indiana. Indiana is talented this year. They return Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. who threw for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns in 6 games last year and Wide Receiver Whop Philyor who had 5 touchdowns last year and a total of 1,002 yards. On the defensive end, they return Micah McFadden who had 60 tackles last year. Wisconsin will win this game because their running game will be too much for the Hoosiers and their defense will outplay the Indiana offense. Next up for Wisconsin is Southern Illinois. They went 7-5 last year. Wisconsin will win because their defense will be dominant and the level of talent on their team. Next up is a good Appalachian State team who went 13-1 last year. They lost head coach Eliah Drinkwitz to Mizzou during the offseason. They return Quarterback Zac Thomas who had 2,718 yards and 28 touchdowns last year and Defensive Back Shaun Jolly who was First Team Sun Belt last year. He had 45 tackles and 5 interceptions last year. This will be a challenge for Wisconsin. Although they will keep it close with Badgers, Wisconsin will win because their defense is more talented and Coan will have a big game.

Next up is Wisconsin's hardest 3 game stretch of the season. Since 2016, Wisconsin and Michigan have switched off every year who wins this matchup. Last year Wisconsin won 35-14. This streak will end this year because Wisconsin will win two in a row. Michigan will struggle at the quarterback position this year. The starting quarterback will be either Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton. McCaffrey is a big threat running the ball while Milton is more of a threat with his arm. Both quarterbacks are very prone to turnovers which will hurt Michigan especially early in the year. McCaffrey will probably get the start for Michigan. They also return Wide Receiver Nico Collins who had 729 yards last year and 7 touchdowns. On the defensive end they return Aidan Hutchinson who had 68 tackles last year and 4.5 sacks. They will win this game because of the poor play of McCaffrey and the good game from Coan. Next up for Wisconsin is Notre Dame. Notre Dame loses Tight End Cole Kmet to the NFL draft, but returns Quarterback Ian Book who had 3,034 yards and 34 touchdowns last year. He is poised for another big year. They also return Wide Receiver Javon McKinley who had 268 yards and 4 touchdowns last year. On defense they are very talented. They return Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Horamoah who had 79 tackles last year and 6.5 sacks. Notre Dame will win in a close game because Book will outplay Coan. This game will come down to a game winning drive. Next up for Wisconsin is Minnesota. They return 9 starters on offense including Rashod Bateman who was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year last year and Quarterback Tanner Morgan who threw for 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. On the defensive end they lost All-American Antonie Winfield Jr. to the draft. They return Defensive Back Jordan Howard who had 57 total tackles last year with 6 pass deflections. Wisconsin will win this game on a game winning drive or field goal because their defense will outplay Minnesota’s defense and Coan will play well in the clutch time.

Next up for Wisconsin is Maryland. Maryland’s starting quarterback will be Josh Jackson. He threw for 1,274 and 12 touchdowns last year. They have a decent receiving corps. They return Dontay Demus Jr. who had 625 yards and 6 touchdowns last year and have 4 star recruit Rakim Jarrett who is very talented. Last year, they finished last in the Big Ten in total defense. They return Linebacker Ayinde Eley who was the leading tackler last year with 79 tackles. The Terps defense will struggle throughout the year because of the inexperience and lack of depth. Wisconsin will win their game because of the level of talent on their team and the good play from their defense. Next up for Wisconsin is Illinois. Last year, Illinois beat #6 Wisconsin 24-23. Wisconsin will want to get revenge on Illinois this year. Illinois returns its starting quarterback, Brandon Peters, who threw for 1,884 yards and 18 touchdowns, and its best wide receiver, Josh Imatorbhebhe, who caught 9 touchdowns and had a total of 634 yards last year. On the defense, they return Linebacker Jake Hansen who had 72 tackles last year and 7 forced fumbles. Wisconsin will win this game in a blow out because their defense will stop the Illinois offense. Wisconsin has Northwestern next. Last year Northwestern went 3-9. Their starting quarterback will be Indiana transfer, Peyton Ramsey who threw for 2,454 yards and 13 touchdowns. Northwestern’s best wide receiver is Senior Riley Lees who had 430 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. They are very inexperienced at the wide receiver position otherwise. Last year, The defense finished 25th in the nation overall last year. They return Paddy Fisher who was on the Big Ten First team in 2018. Last year he had 88 tackles and in 2018 he had 116 tackles and 4 forced fumbles. Northwestern will lose this game because their defense won't be able to stop Wisconsin’s running game.

Next up for Wisconsin is Purdue. Purdue has a lot of talent on offense. They return starting Quarterback Jake Plummer who threw for 1,603 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. He should be poised for a big season if he can avoid injuries. The strongest part of the team is their wide receivers. They have 2018 All-American Rondale Moore and 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year David Bell. If this duo can avoid injuries, they will be a handful for any defense. Last year, the defense allowed 31 points per game and was second-to-last in the Big Ten in total defense. Their defense does not improve from last year. Wisconsin will win this game because they will be able to slow down Purdue’s offense and they will be able to run the ball on Purdue’s defense. Next up Wisconsin is Nebraska. They return Quarterback Adrian Martinez who threw for 1,956 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions last year. Although they lost wide receiver JD Spielman, they return Wan’Dale Robinson who had 453 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and 340 yards and 3 touchdowns through the ground. Nebraska’s defense was 10th last year in the Big Ten in total defense and 7 of the top 14 tacklers are gone. They return Linebacker JoJo Domann who had 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year. The Nebraska defense won't be able to stop the better teams in the Big Ten. Wisconsin will win this game because they will be able to run on the Nebraska defense. In the final game of the season Wisconsin has Iowa. Iowa starting quarterback will be Spencer Petras who was Nate Stanley’s backup last year. Iowa returns Wide Receiver Brandon Smith who had 439 yards and 5 touchdowns in 8 games last year and Wide Receiver Ihmir Smith-Matsette who had 722 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. Iowa returns their top four receivers this year. On the defensive end they lost Defensive End A.J. Epenesa to the NFL draft. Replacing him will be Defensive End Chauncey Golston who had 47 tackles last year and 3 sacks. He will have a bigger role on the team with Epenesa gone. This game is a toss up but Iowa will win because it will probably be a night game at Kinnick Stadium and their offense will be able to move the ball against the Wisconsin defense.

This season will be a successful one for the Badgers. They will go back to the Big Ten Championship. The way Wisconsin can go from a good team to a great team is their offense. If Jack Coan can put up big numbers in the passing games, they have a chance of going to the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin will go 10-2 and make the Big Ten Championship in 2020.

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