Wisco Wednesday: An Early Look at the Badgers’ Schedule

Who are the Badgers playing in 2023? And what can we expect from those opponents?

Disclaimer, this is not a record prediction. 

That will be coming out a little later, as we close in on the season. There is still fall camp to be had, position battles to be won, and injuries that could happen in practice. Waiting a little longer will make the predictions more relevant, and possibly accurate when the season finally arrives. For example, the Northwestern matchup went from “Wisconsin should win” to “Will Northwestern even score?” based on the recent Pat Fitzgerald news. 

This is a week by week preview of Wisconsin’s opponents and how much of a threat they may pose this season. Some weeks will warrant more discussion than others. 

Week 1 – Buffalo @ Wisconsin

The Luke Fickell debut game. Buffalo was a 6-6 team last year, and a mid-tier team in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). A mid-tier G5 shouldn’t pose a threat to Wisco; the Badgers are favored by 23.5 as of today.*

Week 2 – Wisconsin @ Washington State

This is the marquee non-con game this season. They went 6-6 last year, making them a middling team in the Pac-12. Starting RB, Nakia Watson, was a Badger in 2021 and transferred out to go to WSU when it looked like he wasn’t going to get the RB1 job after Jonathan Taylor left. 

Washington State beat Wisconsin in 2022. This was despite Wisconsin being a 17.5 point favorite, having 148 more yards, and 12 more first downs. Wisconsin should win this year, but they also should’ve won last year.

Week 3 – Georgia Southern @ Wisconsin

Déjà vu.

Another team that went 6-6 last year. 

They actually played Buffalo in the Cramton Bowl last year, losing 21-23. So Wisconsin should be favored by a comparable amount to the week 1 game. But, this team did beat Nebraska in Lincoln last year. So they can play up to more talented competition. 

Week 4 – Wisconsin @ Purdue (Friday)

Friday Night Lights, college edition.

Wisconsin opens B1G play against the Defending West Champion Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette. That still doesn’t sound right. Unlike Wisconsin, Purdue’s 2022 coach, Jeff Brohm, left by choice. Now they have Ryan Walters, (Illinois 2022 DC) who brought in Texas transfer QB Hudson Card. Previously, Purdue was the most pass-happy team in the B1G. Now, who knows? 

Wisconsin has beaten Purdue 16 times in a row.

Wisconsin should be favored by a lot. 

I’m not worried about this one.

Week 5 – Bye Week

This should give Longo’s new offense extra time to get on the same page if they haven’t yet. But, this is too early for a bye week. And I don’t think Wisconsin will need it to help with their next opponent. 

Week 6 – Rutgers @ Wisconsin (Homecoming)

Homecoming is always a blast in Madison, and the Badgers can expect an easy win in football for the festivities. It’s July, and we still don’t know who Rutgers has as QB1. 

My primary complaint about this game will be the time of kickoff. I know it’s Rutgers, and therefore this shouldn’t be a night game, but Wisconsin has made it a habit to request Homecoming never be a night game. I can only guess why (my guess is they don’t want the party to be too loud or go too late). Maybe that’s why they won’t ever have a big game for homecoming either? I digress. 

Surprise Early Prediction: Wisconsin will beat Rutgers.

Week 7 – Iowa @ Wisconsin

Iowa is one of many teams that thinks they can win the West this year. 

They think the defense will still be top 5 nationally.

They think transfer QB Cade McNamara from Michigan will be a massive upgrade.

They think OC Brian Ferentz will get the 25 points per game he is contractually required to get to keep his job…. 

Okay, I don’t know if Iowa fans actually think that last one. 

This was a team that scored 17.7 points per game in 2022. That same Iowa team beat Wisconsin in 2022. This isn’t a gimmie, and I’m glad it’s at home.

Week 8 – Wisconsin @ Illinois

Bret Bielema is back in the B1G. He caught a lot of fans off guard last year, almost winning the west and going a respectable 8-4. While many might see that as a splash in the pan, I think Bielema has the Illini going in the right direction. 

In general, I would fear Illinois more than Iowa in 2023, but Champaign, Illinois is not normally considered a difficult place to play. They have their QB returning but lost a lot to the NFL on Defense. This could also be considered a trap game based on who Wisconsin plays in week 9.

Illinois’ schedule is similar to Wisconsin’s in that both only play 1 of the big 3 in the East. That scheduling quirk makes it very possible the winner of this game has a key tiebreaker to decide the West.

Week 9 – An Ohio State @ Wisconsin

Ohio State’s goals are to beat Michigan, win the B1G, and win the National Championship. Wisconsin does not register on that list.

If a Wisconsin fan was told they were going 2-10 in 2023, but they got to pick the wins: half would ask if it could be Ohio State twice (the reasonable people would have Minnesota as the other win). 

Wisconsin is changing its defense to a style more inclined to stop the pass. The game was rumored on Twitter to be a night game on NBC. Ohio State is breaking in a new QB in 2023. Ohio State has to play at Wisconsin the week after they play a difficult, physical game against Penn State.

So I’m telling you there’s a chance. And Vegas is too, Wisconsin is only a 10 point dog right now.*

Week 10 – Wisconsin @ Indiana

Which coach in the B1G is on the hottest hot seat? This article comes out after Fitz is already gone from Northwestern, and Mel Tucker has over a $70 million buyout at Michigan State. So the only reasonable answer is Tom Allen. 

He’s been there 7 years going 30-40 overall. Bad, but they keep him around because you can’t expect much more at Indiana. The problem is he has 2 B1G wins in the last 2 years. Oof. 

As bad as that is, Indiana beat Illinois and Michigan State last year, two teams Wisconsin lost to. As of today I just can’t call it an automatic win. But, Bucky will be heavily favored, and Allen might be gone before kickoff.

Week 11 – Northwestern @ Wisconsin

It’s not enjoyable to make fun of Northwestern, so I’ll keep it short. Northwestern won 1 game last year. Now, their coach is gone, players are decommitting, and transfers just started leaving. They lost their top 2023 freshman on Monday this week. 

This is a Week 11 Bye.

Early Prediction: Wisconsin will beat Northwestern.

Week 12 – Nebraska @ Wisconsin

It’s pretty cool we get this game late in the season. Both Wisconsin and Nebraska are full of hype right now with their new head coaches. There are usually kinks early with new staff and new schemes, but by week 12 we should have a pretty good idea of who these teams are.

Both Matt Rhule and Luke Fickell have won a lot in college football.

Both hit the transfer portal hard, Wisconsin was 27th and Nebraska was 28th for 2023. (The rankings factor in losses from the old regime leaving).^

Both are doing well in recruiting right now with Nebraska 18th and Wisconsin 19th.^

Both have a new QB with high expectations (Nebraska brought in Jeff Sims from Georgia Tech).

These programs will likely measure themselves against each other for a good long while.

This will be a great game for Senior Day in Madison. 

Week 13 – Wisconsin @ Minnesota

The fact that many Wisconsin fans hate PJ Fleck is a testament to how well he’s doing at Minnesota. For a while the Ax Game became an afterthought to Wisconsin fans, claiming the trophy 14 times in a row from 2004 to 2017. 

Now, the series is tied 62-62-8, and Fleck is 3-3 vs Wisconsin. As long as he’s in Minneapolis, the series will follow his coaching record. 

Minnesota may not be a threat in the West, having to play Michigan and Ohio State in 2023, but they will be a tough one for Wisconsin. The B1G schedulers did Bucky a favor though. Minnesota plays Ohio State on week 12, and will likely be beat up headed into this game. 


*Odds listed refer to spreads taken from DraftKings at the time of writing

^Recruiting and transfer rankings listed were pulled from the 247Sports Composite Rankings

Want more Walk On Fan? 

Check out last week’s Wisco Wednesday where we look into the Luke Fickell hire at Wisconsin.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene

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