Jesse Temple revisits his (near-perfect) preseason predictions

Before the 2013 season began, I offered predictions on what

might happen during all 12 of Wisconsin’s regular season games for our

“Know the Foe” series. As it turned out, predicting the results went

relatively smoothly since the Badgers won most of the games they were supposed

to and lost the games in which they weren’t favored.

Overall, I finished 11-1, with pesky Penn State serving as

the lone mistake. Don’t ask how things went against the spread, where I surely

was considerably worse.

Now that the regular season is over and Wisconsin is busy

preparing for its Capital One Bowl appearance against South Carolina, it seems

like a good time to revisit the preseason predictions, hold myself accountable

and see just how close these scores were to the actual mark. This was probably

a better year than others, but I still won’t be taking my (lack of) talents to

Vegas anytime soon.

Game 1

Prediction: Wisconsin 45, UMass 7

Actual final score: Wisconsin 45, UMass 0

My take then: The Minutemen will begin their second season

as an FBS team, and they surely hope it goes better than the first. UMass

finished the 2012 season 1-11, surrendered at least 40 points six times and was

outscored 482-152 in total. UMass’s only victory came against Akron, another

team that finished 1-11.

My take now: Well, the second season as an FBS team was

about as bad as the first season. UMass again finished 1-11 but was

“only” outscored 396-140. Wisconsin dominated the Minutemen as most

expected. Melvin Gordon (144 yards), James White (143) and Corey Clement (101)

each rushed for more than 100 yards in what became something of a theme during

the early season.

Game 2

Prediction: Wisconsin 49, Tennessee Tech 7

Actual final score: Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 0

My take then: If nothing else, Tennessee Tech just might be

one of the most entertaining teams in the FCS because of an up-tempo spread

offense that keeps opponents on their toes. Last season, the Golden Eagles

ranked 115th out of 121 FCS teams in scoring defense (39.4 points per game).

They also ranked 29th in scoring offense (31.6 points). Tennessee Tech has

dubbed its offense as “The Fastest 60 Minutes in Football,” but it’s

easy to envision the Golden Eagles grinding to a halt against a defense as

talented as Wisconsin’s.

My take now: That up-tempo spread wasn’t all that

entertaining against Wisconsin, although most could have guessed that would

happen well before the game. The Golden Eagles managed 113 total yards of

offense, while Wisconsin rolled to 606 yards of total offense. For the second

straight game, Gordon, White and Clement each rushed for at least 100 yards.

The defense, meanwhile, pitched a second consecutive shutout.

Game 3

Prediction: Arizona State 27, Wisconsin 21

Actual final score: Arizona State 32, Wisconsin 30

My take then: A year ago, Oregon State stunned Wisconsin,

10-7, in Corvallis, Ore., leading to the firing of an assistant coach, a

reshaping of the offensive line and a quarterback change. Wisconsin should be

better equipped to handle its first road game of the season this year, but

Arizona State could be a legitimate Pac-12 title contender.

The Sun Devils finished 8-5 in 2012 and destroyed Navy,

62-28, to win the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Arizona State ranked No. 25 nationally

in total offense (464.5 yards per game) and 14th in scoring offense (38.4

points). So if the Badgers aren’t careful, they could be in for a shootout.

My take now: We all know this turned out to be one of the

most controversial games of the entire college football season, when referees

botched the end and didn’t allow Wisconsin time to attempt a game-winning field

goal attempt. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if Kyle French would have made

the 32-yard try. Arizona State did go on to win the Pac-12 South and lose in

the conference title game to Stanford. If Wisconsin would have won, the BCS

picture could have been much different for the Badgers.

Game 4

Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Purdue 17

Actual final score: Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10

My take then: In 2013, Purdue begins a new era with coach

Darrell Hazell, who spent the past two seasons in charge of Kent State.

Changing the Boilermakers’ fortunes may take some time because Purdue isn’t

exactly stocked with all-conference talent this year.

Purdue loses its top rusher from last season (Akeem Shavers,

871 yards), its top quarterback (Robert Marve, 1,734 yards passing) and No. 1

receiver (Antavian Edison, 652 yards and eight touchdown catches). So even

though the Boilermakers made two low-level bowl games the past two seasons,

fans should be pleased if they can squeeze their way into a third.

My take now: There’s a reason clicking on Purdue’s football

schedule on the school website already yields the 2014 slate. It’s because the

Boilermakers were absolutely terrible in 2013 and finished 1-11. Purdue lost

its final 10 games, and Wisconsin obliterated the Boilermakers on the ground.

Melvin Gordon (147 rushing yards) nearly matched Purdue’s total offense output

of 180 yards, and teammate James White (145 rushing yards) wasn’t far behind,

either.

Game 5

Prediction: Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 20

Actual final score: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24

My take then: The Buckeyes have won five of the last six

meetings against the Badgers, and three of Wisconsin’s losses have come by

single digits. In many respects, Ohio State has become a more important game

for Wisconsin fans than even the Minnesota game because the Badgers have

hammered the Gophers nine straight times.

My take now: Even before Wisconsin and Ohio State met this

season, most considered it to be a de facto play-in game for the Big Ten

championship because the rest of the Leaders Division wasn’t very good — and

Penn State was ineligible for postseason play. When Ohio State escaped with a

victory, it all but sealed the Buckeyes’ trip to the conference title game.

It’s too bad these teams won’t play the next few seasons with the division

switch. Then again, given the way Ohio State has owned the rivalry, perhaps it

isn’t the worst development.

Game 6

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 28

Actual final score: Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 6

My take then: By the time Northwestern finishes its Oct. 12

game at Camp Randall Stadium, we’ll know whether the Wildcats can be considered

a Big Ten championship-caliber team. Northwestern’s first two conference games

come against Leaders Division frontrunners Ohio State and Wisconsin.

My take now: Who knew Northwestern would fall into one of

the most epic season-long collapses we’ve seen in years? The Wildcats were once

4-0 and on the cusp of beating Ohio State in Evanston. Then, they proceeded to

lose seven consecutive games — including a stinker of a performance against

Wisconsin. Northwestern ran the ball 25 times for 44 yards. Yeesh.

Game 7

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14

Actual final score: Wisconsin 56, Illinois 32

My take then: Illinois, which finished 2-10 last season and

0-8 in the Big Ten, will have to show some improvement in 2013. Otherwise,

don’t be surprised if coach Tim Beckman finds himself out of a job in November.

In the world of big-time college football these days, a win-now attitude

permeates across the country. And fans will be clamoring for Beckman’s ouster

with another bottom-of-the-barrel finish.

Realistically, Illinois would do well to win five games this

season. But with a Big Ten schedule that includes Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan

State, Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern, there will be little margin for

error anywhere else.

My take now: Hey, the good news for Illinois is that Beckman

is still the coach! Or maybe that’s the bad news. Either way, the Illini

doubled their win total from two to four. Still, Illinois finishing 1-7 in Big

Ten play doesn’t exactly inspire the masses. Wisconsin’s 56 points scored was

the second-highest total Illinois surrendered. Ohio State crushed Illinois by scoring

60 points.

Game 8

Prediction: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 14

Actual final score: Wisconsin 28, Iowa 9

My take then: The Hawkeyes will open the 2013 season on a

six-game losing streak. Now Kirk Ferentz, the longest tenured Big Ten coach

entering his 15th season, must find a way to turn the program around again.

Iowa wouldn’t be the first Big Ten team in recent memory to make a bowl game

after an unusually poor season. Michigan was 3-9 in 2008 and 5-7 in 2009 before

reaching the Gator Bowl in 2010. Penn State went from 4-7 in 2004 to an Orange

Bowl appearance in 2005. Ohio State was 6-7 in 2011 and 12-0 in 2012. Michigan

State was 6-7 in 2009 and 11-2 in 2010.

My take now: Good for Ferentz for guiding Iowa to yet

another bowl game — his 11th in 15 seasons there. Iowa finished 8-4 to reach

the Outback Bowl. That should make Wisconsin’s performance in Iowa City even

more impressive, especially considering it marked Iowa’s lowest point total of

the season, and the Badgers played without linebacker Chris Borland. This was

one of Wisconsin’s two best wins, alongside the victory at Minnesota.

Game 9

Prediction: Wisconsin 14, BYU 10

Actual final score: Wisconsin 27, BYU 17

My take then: BYU plays as an independent football program

and has put together one of the toughest schedules in program history. The

Cougars will play Virginia, Texas, Utah, Utah State, Georgia Tech, Houston,

Boise State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, among others.

Last season, BYU finished 8-5 and won the Poinsettia Bowl

against San Diego State, 23-6. So the Cougars are used to recent success and

likely won’t be intimidated in Camp Randall Stadium after playing such a

demanding schedule.

My take now: BYU certainly wasn’t afraid of the atmosphere

against Wisconsin and kept the game close most of the way through. The Cougars

finished the regular season 8-4 and made the Fight Hunger Bowl, so this was

another solid victory for the Badgers. Running back James White began to take

some of the spotlight from Melvin Gordon at this point in the season and carried

the ball 23 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Game 10

Prediction: Wisconsin 42, Indiana 21

Actual final score: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 3

My take then: During a season in which the Hoosiers averaged

30.8 points per game — fourth in the Big Ten last year — they managed to

surrender 35.2 points per game, which ranked dead last in the conference. Will

2013 be any better? It probably has to for coach Kevin Wilson to feel secure

about his job. Wilson’s reputation as an offensive genius was solidified last

season at Indiana, when the Hoosiers improved their scoring average by 9.4

points over the previous season.

The points are nice, of course. But what good are they if it

doesn’t result in a victory?

My take now: Clearly, I either overestimated Indiana’s

offensive capabilities or underestimated how good Wisconsin’s defense would be

because the Badgers obliterated the Hoosiers. Wisconsin rushed for 554 yards,

which was second in program history only to a 564-yard performance against

Indiana last season. On the season, Indiana’s defense was terrible yet again.

The Hoosiers allowed 38.8 points per game this season to rank No. 114 out of

123 FBS teams. But hey, at least the offense was exciting most games.

Game 11

Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 21

Actual final score: Wisconsin 20, Minnesota 7

My take then: Yes, Wisconsin-Minnesota is still considered a

college football rivalry game. The teams do play, after all, for Paul Bunyan’s

Axe every year. Yet the scores in recent years have been so laughably one-sided

in Wisconsin’s favor that it makes one want to reconsider the true definition

of a rivalry. This season, Minnesota will once again be considered an underdog

in the annual rivalry series despite hosting the game in Minneapolis. The

Gophers are coming off a season in which they saw improvement — but not enough

to be considered a serious player in the Big Ten.

My take now: This game proved to be much more intriguing

than initially thought because the Gophers strung together four straight wins

and were ranked No. 25 in the BCS standings. Wisconsin had no easy task beating

Minnesota — and quarterback Joel Stave’s interception that was returned for a

touchdown didn’t help. Still, this was probably the Badgers’ most satisfying

victory, even if they didn’t get to chop down both goal posts. Wisconsin has

now won 10 consecutive games in the series.

Game 12:

Prediction: Wisconsin 20, Penn State 14

Actual final score: Penn State 31, Wisconsin 24

My take then: The Nittany Lions can’t play in a bowl game

for the next three seasons because of NCAA sanctions, but that doesn’t mean

they can’t derail the hopes of other teams along the way. Penn State’s offense,

which averaged 29.1 points per game last season, could be even better in 2013

given the weapons on the field. They just need to find a quarterback to provide

them some consistency.

My take now: Penn State came into Camp Randall Stadium and

shocked everybody. The Nittany Lions also prevented me from a perfect season in

the prediction category. They did it on the strength of freshman quarterback

Christian Hackenberg, who showed he’s going to be a Big Ten star. Hackenberg

threw for 339 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and Penn State embarrassed

Wisconsin’s defense for one of the few times all season. Wisconsin has one

month to figure out the problems Penn State exploited or risk another

embarrassing loss against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

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