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August 26, 2013Follow @McNamaraRivals
As we near the start of football season, the BadgerBlitz.com staff has assembled our predictions for 2013.
Who do we think will win the Big Ten? What type of season will Wisconsin have? What players will take home the conference player of the year honors and the Heisman Trophy? Here's all of our predictions for the 2013 season.
Toughest game for Wisconsin
Jon McNamara -- Ohio State: The outcome of Wisconsin's trip to Ohio State in week 5 of the season will likely play a big role in how the conference championship shakes out. Both teams will likely be undefeated before the contest if the Badgers are able to defeat Arizona State on the road.
John Veldhuis -- Ohio State: There's really no other answer here. The Badgers can still have a successful season if they lose to the Buckeyes in Columbus, but this is this season's Waterloo, where they'll try and defend their streak of Big Ten Championship Game and Rose Bowl appearances. I think the two teams are closer in talent than most others do, but this is a tall task for Gary Andersen's first season.
Jon Gorman -- Ohio State: This is a pretty easy one. The Buckeyes went 12-0 last year, and are returning the most dynamic player in the Big Ten in Braxton Miller. To make matters even more difficult for Wisconsin, the Badgers will have to travel to the Horseshoe, which is one of the toughest places for any opposing team to play.
Big Ten surprise team of 2013
McNamara -- Northwestern: I'm not sure Northwestern can really be called a "surprise" team, but I think Pat Fitzgerald's group could be in line for a big season. Wisconsin will host the Wildcats on Oct. 12, which is expected to be the Badgers biggest recruiting weekend of the season. Eight starters on offense and seven on defense return for Northwestern this fall.
Veldhuis -- Michigan State: I'm more bearish on Northwestern than most, but I'm pretty bullish about Michigan State this year. Their defense should be good enough to help them win a few games even with shaky performances on offense, and I fully expect them to rebound after a few shaky games in 2012. I have Michigan State winning 11 games and making a BCS bowl this year. Again, that defense is going to be good.
Gorman -- Indiana: Kevin Wilson has Indiana going in the right direction. Although, to be fair, it would have been tough for them to get much worse than they have been in the last few years. But Wilson's high-speed pass-heavy offense surprised some teams last year and will continue to do so. The defense on the other hand, remains a massive work in progress.
Big Ten offensive player of the year
McNamara -- Braxton Miller: Not really going out on a limb here, but Braxton Miller, who had 2,039 passing yards and 1,271 rushing yards in 2012, is a big favorite to win this award. If Ohio State is able to win the Big Ten, Miller is a lock for offensive player of the year.
Veldhuis -- Braxton Miller: Yeah it's hard to argue with Miller at this point, especially since so many teams in the Big Ten have unsettled situations at quarterback. If it's not Miller, though, my other best guess would be Northwestern's Venric Mark.
Gorman -- Braxton Miller: It's tough to pick anyone else in this slot. Miller does it all for the Buckeyes, and will likely be the best player on the league's best team. That should tip the scales in his favor over other candidates such as Taylor Martinez, Devin Gardner and James White.
Big Ten defensive player of the year
McNamara -- Ryan Shazier: A 6-foot-2, 222-pound linebacker, Ryan Shazier led the Big Ten with 17 tackles-for-loss and finished second in the league with 115 total tackles. I think it will be a battle between him and Chris Borland for the award.
Veldhuis -- Chris Borland: I'll say Borland because I think Wisconsin's defense is shaping up to be pretty special this season if the secondary can hold together. They're going to give other Big Ten teams headaches as far as preparation goes, and Borland always brings a play-making 'X-factor' to the table.
Gorman -- Chris Borland: None of this will surprise any Badger fans, but Borland is a playmaker on defense for Wisconsin. He is one forced fumble away from the Big Ten record and is a tackling machine at middle linebacker. Dave Aranda's defense this year will feature Borland in an attacking role, and he is poised to have his best season yet.
McNamara -- Jadeveon Clowney: Jadeveon Clowney is expected to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and is probably the most talented player in college football. History, however, does not favor the 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end. Only one primarily defensive player -- Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson -- has won the award.
Veldhuis -- Marcus Mariota: It's no secret that I love watching the Oregon offense, and Mariota did some pretty special things last season. Miller is the obvious candidate, but I think Ohio State drops a game or two, and the eventual winner is almost never the preseason front runner. It's usually a lower-key guy, and I think Mariota fits the bill this year.
Gorman -- Teddy Bridgewater: I'm not quite sure why Teddy Bridgewater isn't getting more hype. Bridgewater carried Louisville last year to a Sugar Bowl birth, and victory, over Florida, and is poised for even bigger things in his junior year. I'm going to go ahead and trademark "Tank for Teddy" as that's going to be a phrase passed around the NFL quite a bit this year.
Overall Wisconsin season prediction
McNamara -- 11-2: I see Gary Andersen having a lot of success in his first season. I don't think his team will able to get by Ohio State on the road, however. And while I think the schedule is pretty favorable, Northwestern, BYU and Penn State will be difficult games for the Badgers.
Veldhuis -- 10-3: I think the Badgers have a nine or 10 win ceiling this season. I expect that they'll split their toughest games of the season (right now my losses are @ Ohio State and @ Arizona State) but BYU and someone like Iowa or Northwestern could be trouble if the transition still has a few bumps to iron out. But even still, 10 wins is pretty darn good for a coach's first year on campus. We'll see if Andersen can bring some of his Utah State magic to the Badgers- they might need it in a few tough games this year.
Gorman -- 11-2: There are four big time games on Wisconsin's schedule this year: @ASU, @OSU, Northwestern and BYU. The Badgers will split those four, 2-2, and roll through the rest of their season to end up at 10-2. If Ohio State makes the national championship game, as everyone seems to believe, that could open up a Rose Bowl spot for Wisconsin. I happen to think that Ohio State will trip up once or twice during the regular season, and instead end up Rose Bowl bound, which would likely leave Wisconsin on the outside looking in, in terms of a BCS bid.
Wisconsin bowl game prediction
McNamara -- Rose Bowl: I think there's a good chance Wisconsin returns to the Rose Bowl if Ohio State plays for a national title.
Veldhuis -- Capital One Bowl: I have Ohio State losing at least one game, which puts them firmly in the Rose Bowl after they beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. I have Michigan State as an 11-win team, and I think they earn another BCS bid for the Big Ten. The Capital One Bowl is up next, and I think they'll elect for a 10-2 Wisconsin squad over a 10-2 Nebraska team, since the Cornhuskers have been to the Capital One bowl in each of the last two seasons. I'm projecting that the Badgers will play LSU, setting up a rematch in Houston to kick off the 2014 season.
Gorman -- Outback Bowl: I'll say they end up in the Outback Bowl against Arkansas, which is a match-up everyone in Wisconsin wants to see right now. Gary Andersen will have his team fired up to get some revenge, and they'll come out victorious, 30-13.
BCS National Title game predictions
McNamara -- Alabama vs. Stanford: This seems to be an Alabama versus "fill in the blank," as the Tide enter the 2013 season as the most talented team in college football. Nick Saban's squad is a safe bet to play for a third straight national title, and I also see Stanford taking another big step after beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last year. UW will play Alabama in 2015 in Dallas.
Veldhuis -- Alabama vs. Oregon: The Crimson Tide are just playing a different game right now. The Ducks don't skip a beat under Mark Helfrich and end up back in the national title game after a Heisman caliber season from Mariota. This game should be a lot more interesting than last year's edition.
Gorman -- Alabama vs. Stanford: Defense wins championships, and these are the two best defensive teams in the country. Kevin Hogan will have another year under his belt, but so does AJ McCarron, and the Tide will come out victorious yet again.