With another proven transfer at quarterback, the Badgers are considered favorites to return to a third consecutive Rose Bowl this year, partially because two teams in their division - Ohio State and Penn State - are banned from postseason play. Here's an optimistic look at how they'll get it done.
Northern Iowa (9/1): The Panthers are ranked seventh in the country among FCS schools, which stands for Football Championship Subdivision. It used to be known as Division I-AA, a rung below FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). This is a damned-if-you-do game for Wisconsin. If they annihilate UNI, they'll be accused of scheduling patsies. If they win by less than 20, people will wonder if it's cause for concern. Wisconsin by 27.
At Oregon State (9/8): Wisconsin blanked the Beavers in Madison last year, 35-0, and then lost to their in-state rival, Oregon, in the Rose Bowl. The Badgers might not be able to get revenge on the Ducks, but OSU is close. Also, the Beaver's name is Benny. Benny? Wisconsin by 24.
Utah State (9/15): Quick! Name one thing you know about Utah State! Yeah, I didn't think so. Wisconsin by 31.
University of Texas-El Paso (9/22): The Miners' mascot is a pick-wielding, denim-wearing prospector known as Paydirt Pete. Bucky is not impressed. Wisconsin by 23.
At Nebraska (9/29): This has been dubbed an "Unrivaled" game by Adidas, which outfits both schools, and both teams will wear special uniforms for the game. The Badgers will wear red helmets with an old-school W instead of the normal Motion W. Unfortunately, the Huskers are playing some good teams in their nonconference schedule and should be much more battle-tested than the Badgers. Nebraska by 6.
Illinois (10/6): Last season, the Fighting Illini became the first team in history to win their first six games and then lose their last six. As a result, they also have a new coach, Tim Beckman, who comes from Toledo. Wisconsin by 17.
At Purdue (10/13): The Boilermakers had the bad luck of facing Wisconsin right after the Badgers had lost in consecutive weeks on last-second wacky plays. The result was a 62-17 spanking. The Badgers won't be as angry this year. Wisconsin by 14.
Minnesota (10/20): Everybody loves Minnesota's plain-talking second-year coach Jerry Kill, even Bret Bielema. But Minnesota puts too much importance on the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, a game they haven't won since 2003. Wisconsin by 23.
Michigan State (10/27): Michigan State doesn't like Wisconsin very much at all after the Badgers have blocked them from getting to the Rose Bowl for two straight years. The Badgers will be playing their ninth straight game without a week off. Michigan State by 5.
At Indiana (11/10): Thanks for the week off before Indiana, Big Ten! After finishing 1-11 in 2011, the Hoosiers are still horrible. Wisconsin by 30.
Ohio State (11/17): The sanctioned Buckeyes can't play in a postseason game, but they're still talented, well-coached and arrogant. Wisconsin by 3.
At Penn State (11/24): Everybody hates Penn State and nobody feels bad about it. Wisconsin by 27.