ESPN College Gameday will be in Ann Arbor this weekend with Wisconsin Football as the Badgers take on the Michigan Wolverines.
Wisconsin football hits the road after a dominating home win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers to take on its toughest opponent yet. The Badgers are currently ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll and the Michigan Wolverines are No. 12. The winner of this game has a great shot to be in the top ten, while the loser sees its College Football Playoff hopes gone until next year.
ESPN selecting this game as its College Gameday destination shows just how big of a matchup this is. The thoughts and perception surrounding the Badgers and Wolverines aren’t great. Wisconsin “can’t win the big game” and is “overrated.” Jim Harbaugh is a disappointment and Michigan may even be more “overrated” than Wisconsin. But this game is still a top-15 matchup, at a great venue, featuring two proud programs looking to notch a defining win this year. What’s there not to like?
Both Wisconsin and Michigan have experienced tough losses, though they came in very different forms. Wisconsin lost at home to BYU who physically schooled the Badgers. Wisconsin has since responded by beating Iowa on the road and taking it to Nebraska. Michigan lost week one at Notre Dame, who looks like a Playoff contender but did so in a way that left little hope for this season.
A win here for either program would get them back on track in the hunt for a Big Ten Championship and a shot at the Playoff.
These two teams are meeting for the third time in as many years with their current head coaches. It’s also just the third time since 2010. A couple of Big Ten realignments are to blame for that. It’s been decades since this game was one to gloss over for either program. Since Barry Alvarez got to town in 1990, the Badgers are 7-9 against Michigan, who enjoyed a seven-game streak over the Badgers from 1997-2002. Wisconsin has won five of the last eight matchups dating back to 2005.
This game will bring out the best in both teams for all of the reasons stated here. ESPN knows that and Wisconsin and Michigan fans know it too. Unless one of these two programs has been fooling us all year, this will be one of the most competitive and fun to watch games of the college football season.