Yesterday, the Big Ten officially announced the 2014 schedule. A quick glance through their Big Ten schedule shows that the Wisconsin Badgers have a great path to making it back to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game. They play back-to-back road games only once during the season, have their cross-divisional match-ups against the two new schools, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Maryland Terrapins, and get likely their toughest opponent, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, at home. Let’s take a week-by-week look at their entire schedule that has been announced thus far.
Their season opens on August 30 in a to be announced game. After that, the Badgers take on the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks on Sept. 6 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisc. These two teams have met once before, a 34-10 victory for the Badgers in 2006. After another to be announced game on Sept. 13, the Badgers take on the Bowling Green Falcons on Sept. 20 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisc. These two teams have previously faced off three times, with the Badgers winning all three, most recently in a 35-14 victory in 2006. The following week, the Badgers close out their non-conference schedule with a home game against the USF Bulls on Sept. 27 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisc.
The next week, the Badgers play their first scheduled road game in a divisional matchup against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. These two teams have faced off 94 times with the Badgers holding a commanding 56-33-5 lead in the all-time series. The Badgers won the last meeting 70-23 in 2010 in Madison. The Badgers then get their first Big Ten home game when the Illinois Fighting Illini travel to Madison on Oct. 11. These two teams have split their 79 meetings 36-36-7; however, the Badgers have won seven of the last eight including their most recent match-up in 2012 by a score of 31-14.
The Badgers then get a week off before taking on their first cross-divisional foe, the Maryland Terrapins, at home on Oct. 25. This will be the first ever meeting between these two teams. The following week, the Badgers get the other East division team on their schedule, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights from High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. This will also be the first meeting between these two teams.
Up next for the Badgers is a meeting with a division-foe, the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Ind on Nov. 8. These two teams have met 80 times in their collective history, with the Badgers holding a 43-29-8 lead in the season series. The Badgers have won seven in a row, most recently a 38-14 victory in West Lafayette. The Badgers then return home for arguably the most important game of the year, a Nov. 15 game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. These two teams have faced off eight times in their history; however, in the three games since the Cornhuskers have joined the Big Ten, the Badgers hold a 2-1 lead, most recently a 70-31 beat-down in the Big Ten Championship.
The Badgers close out their regular season schedule with a pair of rivalry games. The first of which is the battle for the Heartland Trophy, which pits the Badgers up against the Iowa Hawkeyes. On Nov. 22, the Badgers go to Kinnick Stadium for the 87th meeting between these two teams, having split the first 86 42-42-2. The Badgers won the last meeting 31-30 in 2010. For their final Big Ten regular season game, the Badgers take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers for Paul Bunyan’s Axe in Madison on Nov. 29. The Gophers hold a 59-55-8 lead in the most-played Division I rivalry, having played 122 times since 1890. While the Gophers may hold the all-time lead, the Badgers have won the past nine meetings and have not lost in Madison since 1994.
With road games against Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers and Iowa and their toughest game being at home against Nebraska, the Badgers have a fairly clear path to make it to the Big Ten Championship game once again.