The Wisconsin Badgers are coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that ended with a 42-13 smashing by Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
This season starts off full of questions to answer for the Badgers, with one of those being, is Bret Bielema on the hot seat?
Bielema's win total has slipped each season since he arrived at Wisconsin. He has gone from 12 wins during his first year in 2006, to nine wins in 2007, to seven wins last year. This decline has lead some to believe that his first couple of season's may have been more attributed to former coach Barry Alverez.
Knowing Coach Bielama has Hawkeye blood in him (and a Hawkeye Tigerhawk tattoo on his leg), I wouldn't count him out just yet. One bad year doesn't mean he is a bad coach.
But he does have his work cut out for him this year.
The offense for the Badgers returns senior QB Dustin Scheer. Scheer, however, is not known for his spectacular play and only completed 54 percent of his throws last year. Red-shirt freshman Curt Phillips could take the job from him this year.
The offense will likely be one-dimensional behind the running game, even with the loss of PJ Hill. Running back John Clay looks to be solid, coming off a near 1,000 yard rushing year as a backup last year.
Wisconsin loses five starters on defense but retains a strong secondary. They do need to improve upon their pass rush, but the their defense looks to have potential.
The Badgers also have a favorable non-conference schedule, facing teams like Wofford (who?), Northern Illinois, Fresno State and Hawaii to end out the season. Look for the team to head into the Iowa game with a 4-2 or 3-3 record.
So, what is this Hawkeye nerd's fearless prediction for the outcome of the game?
Iowa 24 - Wisconsin 13
Camp Randall Stadium is a tough place for any team to play, but the Hawkeyes come into this game with a lot of confidence and Wisconsin's running game doesn't stand much of a chance against a stacked Iowa defense. Wisconsin will be forced to try the passing game against the Hawkeyes, failing miserably in the process.
The Hawkeyes will make a few mistakes in this game. The defensive line for the Badgers will be ready for Hampton, and he may cough up a fumble that results in a field goal for Wisconsin. This forces Iowa to turn to the passing game for point production.
Ricky Stanzi connects for three touchdowns to three different receivers on his way to over 300 yards passing. Every yard earned in this game is hard fought against a good Badger secondary, but the combination of Stross, DJK and McNutt prove too much to handle in the long run.
Up next in the series of fearless predictions for the 2009 Iowa Football Season: Michigan State.
In the meantime, follow the @IowaHawkeyes on Twitter for updates from my blog.