Jump around! Jump around! Jump up, jump up and get down!
That won’t be happening for fans at Camp Randall Stadium this fall, but I can guarantee that’s what Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst and athletic director Barry Alvarez were doing Saturday morning when the Big Ten announced its updated 2020 football schedule.
Talk about a cupcake schedule for the Badgers. It’s as if Alvarez was given a blank sheet of paper and told to fill out the schedule on his own.
The Badgers have won three of the last four Big Ten West titles, and with this schedule they should have immediately started work on expanding the trophy case.
Bucky caught a huge break with the two Big Ten East crossover games. The Badgers play at Michigan in Week 4 and host Indiana in Week 7. That means no Ohio State—arguably the best team in the country—and no Penn State—arguably the second-best team in the conference.
Fellow Big Ten West foe Nebraska—insert laugh track here—plays both. I’ll explain that logic in a bit.
Let’s look at Bucky’s 2020 schedule, beginning with the payback of all payback games in Week 1 when the Fighting Illini invade Camp Randall. The Lovie Smith-coached Illini shocked the Badgers last season when Bucky forgot how to run out the clock with the lead late in the game and Jim Leonhard’s defense perfected the prevent scheme. Don’t let the other team get a touchdown but let them drive down the field for the game-winning field goal. This time though, it will be all Badgers.
Week 2 brings a trip to Lincoln and the Cornshuckers, where whomever happens to be the Badgers’ running back will likely run for 358 yards and four scores.
Week 3 brings to the Boilermakers to town for another easy win, while Week 4 is a trip to Ann Arbor and the Wolverines.
As long has Khaki Boy Harbaugh is still the coach, I don’t have much fear playing in the Big House, especially since 106,000 fans in the stands will look more like the student section at Camp Randall for those early 11 a.m. kickoffs. Nobody will be there!
Week 5 could be a tricky one at Evanston to face Northwestern.
The Wildcats are used to playing in front of no fans, so Bucky slips out of town with a win when the Wildcats forget the game is not being played at Wrigley Field as originally scheduled.
That brings Week 6 and a home date with Minnesota and its self-serving coach, PJ Fleck.
No axe to grind here, but Bucky retains Paul Bunyan’s hardware and improves to 6-0.
Week 7 sees the high-scoring Hoosiers invade Camp Randall. Indiana can score points but can’t stop anybody. Badgers in a shootout.
As seems to be the case every year, the Iowa vs. Wisconsin game decides the Big Ten West title, and that’s the matchup in Week 8. Says here: Badgers win in a low-scoring affair.
As for the rest of the Big Ten West schools and their schedule, no one got the shaft worse than Scott Frost and Nebraska. Several Cornhuskers threatened to sue the Big Ten Conference if football wasn’t played in 2020, and there was also talk of joining another conference to play if the Big Ten wasn’t going to can its season.
How’d that work out? The Huskers get to start on the road at Ohio State, get the Badgers the week after and host Penn State in Week 4.
Iowa, which remains Wisconsin’s biggest threat to a Big Ten West title, hosts Michigan State and plays at Penn State.
The rest of the West can fight it out for make-believe bowl games and state bragging rights in Illinois and Indiana (Purdue and Indiana play in a crossover game in Week 8).
So make sure to queue up House of Pain on your chosen listening device and get ready to do some jumping around.
Assuming, of course, this ever-changing Big Ten season gets off the ground.