Wisco Wednesday – Tolly Predicts: What to Expect From The B1G West – A WOF Series Crossover

Who is winning the West? What will the order of finish be? Who is making a bowl game?

These will be my record predictions for the Big Ten West. I will list every game for the predictions, but the primary takeaway should be the final record. We will also compare my predictions to the over/under win total for each team to see how the betting public feels about the B1G West.

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

7th – Northwestern – O/U win total: 3 (via FOX Bet – not listed on DraftKings)

At Rutgers (Sunday) – L


At Duke – L

Minnesota – L

Penn State – L

Howard (HC) – W


At Nebraska – L

Maryland – L

Vs Iowa (Wrigley Field) – L

At Wisconsin – L

Purdue – L

At Illinois – L

After the hazing scandal, and the firing of head coach Pat Fitzgerald, 4 players have transferred out and 6 have decommitted. Morale has to be at an all time low. I don’t see how Northwestern beats a single FBS opponent.

I expect things to get worse, not better.

Record: 1-11 (0-9)

Pick: Under 3

6th – Purdue – O/U win total: 5.5

Fresno State – L

At Virginia Tech – W

Syracuse – L

Wisconsin (Friday) – L

Illinois (HC) – L

At Iowa – W

Ohio State – L


At Nebraska – L

At Michigan – L

Minnesota – L

At Northwestern – W

Indiana – W

Yikes, that’s a lot of L’s

This team won the division last year, and in 2023 I expect them to finish 6th. Welcome to the B1G West. The coach left for greener pastures (Louisville), and the replacement, Ryan Walters, was a great DC at Illinois, but is unproven as a head coach.

The schedule is brutal, Purdue fans should just be happy I gave them a surprise win at Iowa.

Record: 4-8 (3-6)

Pick: Under 5.5 – Hammer the Under

5th – Iowa – O/U win total: 8

Utah State – W

At Iowa State – W

Western Michigan – W

At Penn State – L

Michigan State – W

Purdue (HC) – L

At Wisconsin – L

Minnesota – W


Vs Northwestern (Wrigley Field) – W

Rutgers – W

Illinois – L

At Nebraska (Friday) – L

I am just as surprised as you dear reader. I did not expect to have Iowa finish 5th in the West this year.

The offense is the problem. They scored 17.7 points per game last year… offense and defense combined. That was bottom 5 out of 132 teams. They brought in Cade Macnamara at QB from Michigan to save them, but keeping the same OC will be their undoing.

Losing to Purdue is unlikely, but beating Minnesota and Iowa State is not a given. They went 7-5 last year, I have them going 7-5 this year.

Record: 7-5 (4-5)

Pick: Under 8

4th – Nebraska – O/U win total: 6

At Minnesota (Thursday) – L

At Colorado – W

Northern Illinois – W

Louisiana Tech – W

Michigan – L

At Illinois (Friday) – L


Northwestern – W

Purdue (HC) – W

At Michigan State – W

Maryland – L

At Wisconsin – L

Iowa (Friday) – W

The week 1 game is the hardest for me to pick on this schedule. There is so much change for both teams. I’ve suggested that Nebraska could be undefeated for the Michigan game in week 5. But for prediction purposes, I have Rhule getting off to a slow start in his return to college football. 

After that, I think Rhule gets things back on track in Lincoln quickly. Nebraska wins the games they’re supposed to win, and beats Iowa for the 2nd time in a row to start a win streak in one of the few exciting, new rivalries born from realignment. 

Record: 7-5 (4-5)

Pick: Over 6

3rd – Minnesota – O/U win total: 7

Nebraska (Thursday) – W

Eastern Michigan – W

At North Carolina – L

At Northwestern – W

Louisiana (HC) – W

Michigan – L


At Iowa – L

Michigan State – W

Illinois – W

At Purdue – W

At Ohio State – L

Wisconsin – L

Another 7-5 B1G West team. I can already hear the national media calling this a weak division. Everyone says they want parity, but when it’s right in front of them, all they see is mediocrity. I see a team with 2 automatic losses because they play OSU and Michigan. 

Minnesota has been as ground and pound as it gets the last few years. They were in the top 4 of teams that faced 8+ man boxes in 2022 (with Army, Navy, and Wisconsin). Now, supposedly, they are going to air it out a bit more. They have a sneaky good WR room led by Autman-Bell. And, after watching the new QB, Kaliakmanis, tear Wisconsin apart last year, I think it’s safe to call him an upgrade over Tanner Morgan.

There is more to be said about the Wisconsin – Minnesota game at the end of article.

Record: 7-5 (5-4)

Pick: Don’t Bet

2nd – Illinois – O/U win total: 6.5

Toledo – W

At Kansas (Friday) – L

Penn State – L

Florida Atlantic – W

At Purdue – W

Nebraska (Friday) – W

At Maryland – L

Wisconsin (HC) – W


At Minnesota – L

Indiana – W

At Iowa – W

Northwestern – W

This is my bold prediction, I guess. Honestly, it doesn’t feel that bold to me.

Illinois is being slept on. They went 8-4 last year, everyone thought it was a neat story, and now everyone is ready for them to go back to losing. The #1 argument: they lost too much to the draft. Which… is fair. 

My argument: A good transfer QB, the defense stays top 10 (led by another expected 1st round player on the D-Line), and Great head coach, Brett Bielema. They have an easy schedule (relatively), so this team should win a lot of games.

Illinois will continue to be a thorn in the side of Wisconsin, just flip the Minnesota or Maryland game, and they win the West.

Record: 8-4 (6-3)

Pick: Over 6.5 – Hammer the Over

1st – Wisconsin – O/U win total: 8.5

Buffalo – W

At Washington State – W

Georgia Southern – W

At Purdue (Friday) – W


Rutgers (HC) – W

Iowa – W

At Illinois – L

Ohio State – L

At Indiana – W

Northwestern – W

Nebraska – W

At Minnesota – W

Am I a homer for this? Even considering that Wisconsin is the favorite to win the division?

It’s definitely risky to bet on a new head coach, and a new offensive scheme, and a new defensive scheme, and a new wide receiver core, and a new quarterback.

Ah, now I get why the win total is so low. Vegas tends to be risk averse. What they are forgetting is that Fickell is good, really really good. And Wisco doesn’t have a meat grinder of a schedule this year. The circle game is that massive night game against Ohio State in week 9.

Home vs Iowa won’t be an issue. If you don’t agree with the Illinois loss, consider that at Washington State and at Minnesota could be tricky. I could even see beating OSU, but still going 10-2.

Record: 10-2 (7-2)

Pick: Over 8.5 – Hammer the Over

So what about the teams who didn’t come out on top. How close were they?

I already mentioned that Illinois is right there in contention. And Iowa and Nebraska would be in the division race well into November based on my predictions. Purdue did win the division last year, so maybe I’m just wrong about the Boilermakers and they’re a good program now. I don’t believe what I just typed, but I have to consider the possibility I can be wrong once in a while.

But those aren’t the teams I want to talk about here.

What about Minnesota?

7-5, and 3rd in the division. Losses at Iowa, at Ohio State and vs Michigan are written in pen in August.

(Fleck has never beat any of those 3 teams).

But what if they beat Wisconsin again? PJ Fleck is 3-3 all time vs the Badgers, and they get them in Minneapolis this year.

There would be a 3 way tie atop the West with Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois all being 6-3 in division play. But, the Gophers would have head-to-head over both Wisconsin and Illinois. They would win the tiebreaker, win the West for the 1st time ever, and head to Indianapolis for a likely rematch vs Michigan or Ohio State (or PSU does something crazy).

The point I want to make here:

The Ax Game will decide the B1G West.

That being said:

B1G West Winner: Wisconsin 

(Or anyone not named Northwestern – It’s the Wild West out here)

But who will they face out of the East? 

Take a look at the B1G East prediction we came out with on 7/29. 

Want more Walk On Fan? 

Check out the Wisco Wednesday series. A good starting point is the Luke Fickell article detailing what has changed in Madison since Coach Fick arrived.

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

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