Wisconsin football has mostly dominated the Big Ten West, but will the Badgers have the goods to take over the division again in 2022?
It was actually a rarity last season that Wisconsin football didn’t represent the Big Ten West in the conference championship affair — and rarer still that it hasn’t been two years in a row since the program was involved in that game. But the Badgers found their identity late in the season and now look to carry that momentum into the 2022 campaign.
The big question will be whether that identity and the few returning players in Madison will be enough to capture the crown in the West for another season.
Arrives at #19 FanSided’s Preseason Top 50 Rankingthe Wisconsin Badgers!
Wisconsin Football Season 2021 in Review
Seeing Iowa at the Big Ten Championship Game, representing the West, might not be what fans want to see, but there’s no denying that a bad year is better for Wisconsin football than most other programs.
The Badgers might miss the conference title game but finished the year 6-3 in Big Ten play and went 9-4 overall after interrupting their season with a win over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The fact is, it felt like Wisconsin football was trying to be something other than what they were at times last season under Paul Chryst, leading the team to now look back on back-to-back seasons in which they have not won very acceptable split. But there are signs that the Badgers will return to their roots in the 2022 season, returning to the form they expected.
Wisconsin Badgers offense preview for the 2022 season
- Returners (5): QB Graham Mertz, RB Braelon Allen, OT Jack Nelson, OG Tyler Beach, OC Joe Tippmann
- Newcomers: WR Keontez Lewis (UCLA), 4-star OT Joe Brunner
- striker: Braelon Allen
We could beat around the bush when it comes to quarterback Graham Mertz, but the fact of the matter is that he was a huge disappointment in 2021 after being busted as a freshman in the truncated 2020 campaign. It wasn’t until Braelon Allen was awarded the running back contract through injury that the offense really found form a season ago.
There could still be an attempt to open up the passing game more, but Allen should be the linchpin of offense as one of the country’s most talented and explosive runners, returning to every program in 2022. Even better, he has a strong group leading the way, with the left side of the line looking like a moving wall that can clear the way. The right side of the line is unproven, but the Badgers have accumulated and developed talent that seems poised to fit in seamlessly.
Wisconsin’s biggest question is the pass group, as last year’s top three goals are all gone. UCLA transfer Keontez Lewis is showing promise, as is Chimere Dike, but uncertainty in the position could force the Badgers to rely on Allen and the quick attack again.
Wisconsin Badgers defense preview for the 2022 season
- Returners (3): EDGE/LB Nick Herbig, DE Isaiah Mullens, NT Keeanu Benton
- Newcomers: CB Jay Shaw (UCLA), CB Justin Clark (Toledo), S Kamo’i Latu (Utah), 4-star DL Isaac Hamm
- striker: Nick Herbig
There’s a distinct lack of experience in terms of returning starters at the Wisconsin defense for the 2022 season, but there’s still hope for what the Badgers can do on that side of the ball, especially with Nick Herbig returning at full-back.
Not only was Herbig a sack performer a season ago, but he is backed by a multitude of versatile and talented edge players to revolve around him. Meanwhile, the back line is the most experienced positional group this side of the ball and seems solid again against the run. As for the linebackers, there are big questions with Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal, two stars departing, but there are talents just needing to prove themselves.
While there’s a lot of turnover and new faces in the secondary school, hitting the transfer portal for the Badgers has worked really well since Jay Shaw was an All-Pac 12 performer a season ago and is backed up by other veteran players who are ready appear to be enter. The group didn’t prove themselves in Madison, but the depth and talent of the position is impossible not to be optimistic about.
Wisconsin Football Players Awards clock for the 2022 season
Braelon Allen, Doak Walker/Maxwell/Walter Camp Player of the Year
No shocks here, as Allen was dominant in the 2021 season and is now looking around the watch list for top running back and top overall in college football. Should he get the workload many have come to expect from behind that Wisconsin O-Line, it could be an incredible season from the running back.
Joe Tippman, Rimington/Outland
Speaking of offensive line, veteran center Joe Tippman has two awards on last season’s watchlist and is expected to be a factor in both races this season. He has been a Mauler in the trenches for some time and is considered the anchor of a large unit.
Nick Herbig, Bronco Nagurski
It’s a bit shocking that Herbig competed for the Nagurski but wasn’t watchlisted for the Butkus Award, which honors the top linebacker in the country. Regardless, he’s now the focal point of a good defense and should do well for the Nagurski.
Biggest football game in Wisconsin on schedule for 2022
My gut instinct for the biggest game for the Badgers this season was to point to the Big Ten’s opener against Ohio State, since even in Columbus, an old-school Wisconsin team could potentially cause problems for the Buckeyes. But in terms of importance, there’s no game that stands out more than November 12’s trip to Iowa.
Of course, there are other tricky spots on the game plan for Chryst’s team, but as they seek to reclaim the throne in the Big Ten West, Iowa should once again be their biggest threat. And playing at Kinnick Stadium is anything but easy. It’s always a tricky affair when these two opponents meet, but whoever comes out on top will likely punch their ticket to the conference championship game barring other slips.
Wisconsin Football Best Case Scenario
There should be no problem in any world when Wisconsin does business against the state of Illinois, Washington state and the state of New Mexico on the non-conference list. Then things get going fast as they head off to The Shoe in week 4.
I’ve hinted at this before, but Wisconsin’s offensive style could pose serious problems for Ohio State, especially if Jim Knowles isn’t an immediate miracle worker. The Buckeyes’ quick offense gets defense back on the field quickly, which in turn allows the Badgers to consistently wear them down with the rushing offense, which should have an advantage. If that’s possible I move the Badgers to 4-0 followed by two more wins over Illinois and Northwestern.
After that there are two Tests at Michigan State and at home for Purdue, but I like Wisconsin’s talent better in both games. They should also get past Maryland and put them 9-0 in the trip to Iowa. And if that team can beat Ohio State, they can beat Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
Because of the way their brand of football games performs, there’s a legitimate chance Wisconsin football will finish the regular season 12-0 and head into the Big Ten Championship Game with a berth in the college football playoffs. Will They Beat Ohio State Again? That’s up for debate, but being in this place is a huge push forward for Bucky and the Boys.
Wisconsin Football Worst Case Scenario
But now we’re getting to the point where things could turn sour in Madison.
The good news is that the start at 3-0 remains intact – it’s not so much a doomsday scenario. However, if we’re talking the worst-case scenario, Wisconsin doesn’t get over the Buckeyes earlier this year. Wins in Illinois and Northwestern also stand, but a trip to Michigan State proves difficult for the fast attack, dropping them to 5-2 towards Purdue.
Here come the spoiler makers, always good for a big surprise, they manage to spoil Wisconsin’s October 22nd homecoming. Maryland could be difficult outside of the open week, but we won’t go that far. But after that, the trip to Kinnick proves fatefully painful as the Badgers fall this Saturday. Worse, Minnesota again proves to be a problem for Chryst in its own bounce-back campaign, leaving Wisconsin with a 7-5 overall record when things go really wrong in a tough conference.
Wisconsin football season prediction 2022
Rest, Wisconsin football fans; It’s going to take a lot for this team to go very badly to win just seven games and I don’t see at all where things are going.
The Badgers are stuck at Ohio State, although a rematch could be absolutely intriguing with their style of play. And I think Chryst is bringing the program to this occasion. I have far more confidence in Wisconsin offense and defensive talent than anything in Iowa and believe the Badgers are superior to any other team on the schedule.
In short, Wisconsin, 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten, is heading back to Indianapolis for another attempt to defeat Ohio State, possibly slamming a playoff ticket and spoiling the Buckeyes’ chances as well .
Wisconsin Football 2022 Bowl Game Prediction
If early bowl projections are any indication, the Badgers will be back in big style this season. It won’t be the Rose Bowl, though Sporting News’ Bill Bender Wisconsin Football meets Tennessee on January 2nd in the Citrus Bowl.
Next: No. 18: Michigan State Spartans
Other articles in this series:
https://fansided.com/2022/08/11/wisconsin-football-prediction-bowl-game-2022/ Wisconsin Football 2022 Season Prediction, Preview, Awards, Bowl Game 2022