So, did you miss me? Of course you did.
I mean, you didn’t need me to tell you that the Badgers were going to have a comfortable win over Nebraska … even despite all the injuries.
And now, there’s a trip to Ann Arbor and a Michigan team that is positively aching for a signature win over a Big Ten power. And while the smugmen and the wags would look at Wisconsin as something less than a signature win, a Wisconsin with injury-related holes would probably be the Wolverines’ best win in over two years.
But can they get there? Let’s take the three completely accurate paths.
Likely Case: Speaking of three, that’s the number of cornerbacks that the Badgers still have on the injury list. Travian Blaylock is out, but the Badgers’ chances improve considerably if Caesar Williams and Deron Harrell can go. And even then, Shea Patterson is at the top of the “Not Dwayne Haskins” tier of Big Ten quarterback. He doesn’t have one star receiver to throw to, but between Donovan Peoples-Jones, Grant Perry, Nico Collins, and the Wolverines’ receptions and yardage leader in tight end Zach Gentry, Patterson has people he can trust through the air if he has time to throw.
(And it’s not unreasonable to think that he’ll have time to throw.)
Also, running back Chris Evans will have returned from his time off from an “injury” that was in no way having to do anything with “filming Avengers 4” where he “died” from “Thanos” or “not getting Robert Downey Jr. money.” While Karan Higdon has been good in his absence, the best “non-oh hey we’re facing Nebraska and oh hey aren’t they terrible” performance from the Michigan running game was when Evans and Higdon tag teamed the carries. And in a world where the Badgers’ defensive ends are a redshirt freshman walk-on and a redshirt freshman future famous offensive lineman? That’s potentially scary on paper. They’re the best offense the Badgers face until Penn State.
Best Case: But none of that matters because Orange Bowl Alex Hornibrook is here to save the day. Fresh off their own meeting with Nebraska, your Wisconsin Badgers offensive line is ready to go to war with a very talented defensive front seven of the Wolverines. And while it’s not domination, they do enough. Hornibrook and Jonathan Taylor get to 10 touchdowns on the year in their respective fields. Michigan gets to 28. Wisconsin gets more points, which is how you legally win a football game.
Worst Case: I’m gonna level with you. The likely case and the worst case feel pretty similar. I mean, the Badgers’ defense is going to be inexperienced and while they won’t be unprepared, there are holes that can be exploited. And while the offense is talented enough on paper to go toe to toe with a defense that is among the statistical best in the nation, I’m sure the Badgers’ offensive line is still getting dirty looks at Red Robin. As I write this, the Badgers are currently going into Ann Arbor as a double-digit underdog. The Badgers losing by more than one score for the first time since the Alabama game would not be unexpected.
The Badgers losing in the final minute but keeping that streak alive will break your heart.