Coming into 2014, there is plenty of optimism between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona for the Wisconsin Badgers. Last season, the Badgers won most of the games they were supposed to, lost the ones they were underdogs in and fell apart at home against Penn State.
This season, despite heavy losses on both sides of the ball including linebacker Chris Borland and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, both of whom will be recognized in the coming years for their outstanding achievements while wearing Cardinal and White, there are plenty of signs of hopes for the Badgers.
The biggest thing for the Badgers is their relatively soft strength of schedule, though it is of no fault of their own. In their non-conference schedule, the Badgers are playing a game in Houston against LSU and taking on the MAC champions in Bowling Green.
Their Big Ten schedule, which is scheduled by the league and not the teams themselves, have them playing Big Ten newbies Maryland and Rutgers in their "crossover" games, avoiding heavyweights Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.
All of this adds up to Phil Steele's 72nd-ranked strength of schedule, which should mean a good shot at double-digit wins and a bowl berth locked up halfway through their Big Ten schedule. Beyond that, the Badgers have a realistic chance to play in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
With all of that being said, let's take a look at game-by-game predictions for each of the Badgers' 12 regular-season games, starting at NRG Stadium in Houston.