Wisconsin Badgers predictions: Game 1 vs. Western Kentucky

Well, college football is back and so is our weekly roundup of Wisconsin Badgers game predictions.

Every year it seems as though there are fewer prognosticators out there (although the gambling situation around the country has increased people just picking against the spread, which we’ll try to avoid — give us a score!) and the Badgers not exactly facing a top-flight opponent in their season opener doesn’t help the cause.

Nevertheless, we’ve done our best to find a wide swath of opinions for UW’s first game against Western Kentucky. Since this game is being played on a (gasp!) Friday night, we’re running the predictions a day earlier than usual, but from here on our expect to see these every Friday.

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With all that out of the way, it will come as no surprise that Wisconsin is the popular (OK, unanimous) choice to win its first game. But the margin of victory? That’s where there’s a lot of differing opinions.

Here are this week’s picks from around the web and Twitter:

The Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo: Wisconsin 48, Western Kentucky 14.

Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Wisconsin 37, Western Kentucky 13. “WKU will move the ball a bit better than Badger fans might like, but the yards aren’t going to lead to points. The Wisconsin offense will be a machine from the start, getting out to an early lead with two great drives. However, the Hilltoppers will make this interesting for a little while going into halftime. And then it’ll all stop – the Badgers will have the ball for close to 40 minutes, and it’ll show late in the third quarter.”

Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Wisconsin 49, Western Kentucky 13. “The recipe for Wisconsin to get off to a 1-0 start this season is fairly simple. Feed Jonathan Taylor and run the ball. A lopsided favorite, the Badgers should be able to stick to a vanilla offensive game plan and wear down their opponent from Conference USA without having to show too much form the playbook. Not that Paul Chryst and company stray too far from the ordinary when it comes to offense, but there should be no reason to waver too much from the typical game plan in the opener. Concerns about defense may have to be addressed and could lead to some adjustments during the game, but this should be a good opening test for a new-look Wisconsin defense that will have many more challenging tests later this season.”

Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Wisconsin 41, Western Kentucky 17.

The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel: Wisconsin 34, Western Kentucky 14. “I’ve got Wisconsin in the College Football Playoff. You didn’t think I would pick an upset here, did you?”

Brad Stephens of the Bowling Green Daily News: Wisconsin 49, Western Kentucky 10.

Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press: Wisconsin 56, Western Kentucky 10.

Josh Slagter of MLive.com: Wisconsin 45, Western Kentucky 3.

Badgers all-time databases

David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Wisconsin 41, Western Kentucky 10. “In 2017, Western Kentucky was merely average defending the run. The front seven must replace a handful of key contributors this year, and that is the opposite of what teams opening the season against Wisconsin want to be doing.”

Athon Sports’ Mitch Light: Wisconsin 44, Western Kentucky 14.

Bill Connelly of SB Nation: His S&P+ projection has it Wisconsin 39, Western Kentucky 13.

All seven of CBSSports.com analysts think Wisconsin will win but just four of the seven believe the Badgers will cover a 34.5-point spread.

All nine analysts for the Dallas Morning News have the Badgers winning and but only three think Wisconsin can overcome a 34.5-point spread.

All six analysts at USAToday.com are going with Wisconsin.

Andrew Powell of the Lock Haven Express: Wisconsin 63, Western Kentucky 10.

Underdog Dynasty: Wisconsin 48, Western Kentucky 10.

SportsLine Projection Model: Wisconsin 46, Western Kentucky 14.

All 15 staffers of the Louisville Courier-Journal are picking Wisconsin to win.