A Wisconsin Badgers 2013 season prediction explained
JUN 12, 2013 10:51a ET
The bad news? Don't count on similar success for the Badgers away from home.
Steven Lassan, the magazine's college football editor, recently released his predictions for the upcoming Big Ten season. And though he forecasts a 7-0 regular season at Camp Randall Stadium for Wisconsin, he also has the Badgers finishing just 2-3 on the road, with losses to Arizona State, Ohio State and Iowa.
That amounts to a 9-3 record, including 6-2 in the Big Ten. Lassan predicts Ohio State will finish the regular season 12-0 (8-0 in the Leaders Division), beat Michigan in the Big Ten title game and compete against Alabama in the national championship. In other words, Wisconsin's run of three straight Big Ten titles — and two appearances in the conference championship game — is over.
But before fans aim their vitriol at Lassan, he insists there is a legitimate formula behind picking each game. He is among a group of eight editors at Athlon that make decisions on the outcomes of every FBS game. Though they do not guess game scores, they do grade themselves on accuracy of their win-loss totals each season.
"We essentially will lock ourselves in a room for however long it takes," Lassan told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. "Whether it's the Big Ten or whether it's the MAC, we go through every conference. We've got just pages and pages of data between the win totals for teams over the last couple years, who they return, who they lose, recruiting, schedule, results. Really anything you can think of. We spend as much time as we need."
Of the three losses predicted for Wisconsin, the defeat at Iowa would seem to be the most disputed. Iowa is coming off a 4-8 season, including 2-6 in the Big Ten.
"I know it maybe seems a little far-fetched," Lassan said. "By the end of the year, Iowa will have a better handle on their starting quarterback, but also upsets are going to happen in the Big Ten."
The rest of Athlon Sports' predictions for UW appear to match up well with early point spreads.
Last week, The Golden Nugget released 250 college football point spreads for 2013, and Wisconsin was featured in six of those games. The Badgers are favorites in four games: Northwestern (6 points), BYU (8 points), Minnesota (10 points) and Penn State (9 points). Ohio State is an 11-point favorite against Wisconsin, while the Wisconsin-Arizona State game is listed as a pick ‘em.
The Golden Nugget did not release a point spread for the Wisconsin-Iowa game.
Lassan said the biggest factors holding Wisconsin back from catching Ohio State are quarterback play and uncertainty in the secondary. Junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy is expected to come in and compete for UW's starting quarterback job this fall, but Lassan predicted Joel Stave would beat out Curt Phillips for the position. Phillips took over as the team's starter last season when Stave broke his collarbone in a game against Michigan State.
"I just think he was efficient last year," Lassan said of Stave. "I thought he was their best quarterback when he was healthy. It gives them probably the best chance to win in the passing game."
In addition to quarterback and secondary questions at Wisconsin, Lassan noted Ohio State was further ahead in its coaching transition. Wisconsin's Gary Andersen took over in December, while Urban Meyer is beginning his second season in charge of Ohio State's program.
"He's generally been very good in his second year," Lassan said. "They've also got Braxton Miller at quarterback. He's a little bit more dynamic I think on offense."
If Lassan's predictions come true, Wisconsin will finish second in the Leaders Division for the first and only time. The Big Ten will move to East and West divisions beginning in 2014. Lassan's final Leaders Division standings look like this: Ohio State (8-0), Wisconsin (6-2), Penn State (4-4), Indiana (3-5), Purdue (2-6), Illinois (1-7).
Athlon also put together rankings for all 125 FBS teams. Unlike other preseason polls, Lassan said Athlon Sports attempts to predict where teams will be in the final rankings of the season. Athlon has Wisconsin ranked No. 19 in the country. Only Ohio State (No. 2) and Michigan (No. 14) are ranked ahead of the Badgers among Big Ten teams. Nebraska is ranked No. 21 and Northwestern No. 24.
"I think Wisconsin is solid," Lassan said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see them get to 10 wins."
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