Wisconsin Football: Quick Takeaways from 2020 Schedule

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 07: Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs for a touchdown in the Big Ten Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 07: Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs for a touchdown in the Big Ten Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Big Ten has released the revised 2020 football schedule, here are some quick takeaways on how things shake out for the Wisconsin Football program.

With the coronavirus still prevalent across the country, the Big Ten Conference – along with the other Power 5 conferences – decided to reconfigure the 2020 football schedule.

Non-conference games have been eliminated, as well as games held at special venues, which means the Wisconsin Football program won’t be facing Notre Dame at Lambeau Field or Northwestern at Wrigley Field. The Big Ten also wanted to add more flexibility to the schedule as well, given the unknowns that lie ahead.

For the Badgers, as always, and even with some unusual circumstances, expectations are high. Even after losing key players in Jonathan Taylor, Quintez Cephus, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Baun, and Chris Orr, they were still the favorites to win the Big Ten West entering the season. And although their schedule has been reshaped a bit, that still hasn’t changed.

On Wednesday morning, the Big Ten Conference released each team’s revised 2020 schedule, and you can find Wisconsin’s below, along with some quick takeaways.

Rutgers has been added to the schedule

Originally, Wisconsin had nine conference games on the schedule, but with the Big Ten wanting 10 games to be played and not wanting any of those games to be outside of the conference, that meant that the Badgers needed an additional opponent from the Big Ten East. And they couldn’t have gotten a better draw.

Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Rutgers has just one winning season and only three total wins over the last two years combined. Even better, they will be traveling to Camp Randall. With Ohio State and Penn State as options out of the Big Ten East, drawing Rutgers was by far the best-case scenario.

Badgers now travel to Nebraska

Another change that was made to the schedule is that instead of playing Nebraska at home, the Badgers will be traveling to Lincoln. Currently, Wisconsin is riding a seven-game win streak against the Huskers and won 37-21 at Nebraska last season.

Big Ten keeps the schedule fluid

With so many unknowns at this point, the Big Ten Conference gave themselves some room to reschedule or delay games if needed. While the hope is that play will begin on September 5th, the start of the season can be pushed back to the 12th, 19th or 26th if needed.

Each team also has several byes that could be used to reschedule canceled games, and as of now, the Big Ten Championship is supposed to take place on December 5th, it too can be moved back to the 12th or 19th.

Minnesota and Michigan will be toughest opponents

The Badgers were able to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s axe with a convincing win at Minnesota last season that also clinched the Big Ten West Title as well. This year, the two teams will meet back in Madison, but as we’ve seen, this isn’t a Gopher team that should be taken lightly, even without Rashod Bateman.

Meanwhile, it’s been over a decade since Wisconsin has won consecutive games against Michigan and this year, they’ll have to accomplish that feat at the Big House where they haven’t won since 2010 while facing a Wolverine team that is picked by many to win the Big Ten this season.

The good news is that there is about a five-week gap between these two games for Wisconsin.

It’s Big Ten Championship or Bust

More often than not, this is the mentality that the Badgers and their fans have anyways, which is a credit to Paul Chryst and his staff, but this year anything less is an udder disappointment. Being completely honest, this is a pretty easy schedule with Wisconsin’s opponents posting a combined record of just 36-54 from the 2019 season.

As always, avoid looking ahead

We saw Wisconsin get bit by this last season with an uncharacteristically poor performance at Illinois that resulted in a loss. For a Badger team that has a legit chance to run the table and climb up the College Football Playoff rankings this year, losses like that can ruin a season.

This year, before Wisconsin heads to Nebraska and then plays Minnesota the week after, they play at Northwestern who is coming off a 3-9 season, but Evansville has been a house of horrors for the Badgers as they have just one win away from home in this series since 2000.

Then before Wisconsin heads to Ann Arbor to play Michigan, the Illini will be coming to Camp Randall, and hopefully, we don’t see a repeat of last year’s performance.

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3 Byes in final 8 weeks before Big Ten Championship Game

I mentioned previously that the Big Ten has built-in some additional byes just in case any games need to be moved around. When it comes to the Wisconsin Badgers – assuming everything starts on time – they play six straight games to start the season and then over the final eight weeks leading into the Big Ten Championship Game, they have three weeks off. So over the final month and a half of the season, Wisconsin will never play more than two weeks in a row.