The 2013 WAY Too Early Badgers Schedule Breakdown: Penn State

What a strange and wonderful journey we've been on in 2013…. Oh, wait, what's that? We're not at Nov. 31st already? Oh ya, that's right we're just giving you a look from the beginning of the calendar year as to what each of Wisconsin's opponents could present as challenges or lack thereof. 

Penn State is up today and they'll be under the 1st year of the biggest sanctions against them in terms of limits to their scholarships and more. But, before we get to the Nittany Lions, let's remember we see the Badgers coming into this game at 10-1. Want to see how we got to 10-1? Here are our other 11 breakdowns:

With that, let's get right into our friends from Happy Valley, shall we?

2012 Record: 8-4
Head Coach: Bill O'Brien, 8-4 2nd year at PSU in 2013
2012 Billingsley Ranking: No. 24
2012 Team Stats:

Offense   Defense
29.1 Scoring 19.1
144.8yds - 18TD's Rushing 128.4yds - 10TD's
273.2yds - 24TD's/5INT's Passing 225yds - 15TD's/10INT's

Crazy 2012 Stat: 13 - That's the total number of interceptions and lost fumbles by the Nittany Lions in 2012. For a team that had so many issues with turnovers in 2011 with virtually the same cast of characters in games in 2012 that turnaround, especially from Matt McGloin was unreal.

What 2012 Tells Us About Penn State: If 2012 proved anything, it's that Penn State - the football team - won't roll over and play dead just because they are hamstrung with sanctions and a lack of postseason play. In fact they're likely to do the opposite. But, that was 2012 and a group of players and leaders that were rather special. Can they repeat those leadership qualities with the likes of Michael Mauti gone? 

What about their head coach? Is Bill O'Brien actually committed to this university or is it all about jumping to the NFL as quickly as possible? Those are big time questions as we head into 2013 and this season could go a long way to showing us the true motives and intentions of the coach. 

However, what 2012 told us about the team on the field is that this isn't JoePa's team anymore. They're going to be a much more aggressive offense and a much more pass happy offense as well. On defense they're just going to build off of what's worked so well for them in the past 40 years and not much changed in year one of the BO'B era because of that.

One thing is for sure, we'll know exactly what we're in for - either a challenge or a team not looking forward to playing - because it's the season ending game between the Badgers and Nittany Lions.

Series History: Wisconsin leads 9-7; Last Meeting 24-21 Penn State W

Key Losses: Matt McGloin, QB (3,266yds, 24TD's/5INT's, 60.5% comp. rate); Matt Stankiewitch, C (1st team all-B1G); Michael Zordich, FB (301yds, 4TD's); Jordan Hill, DT (64 tackles, 8.5tfl's, 4.5 sacks, 1INT); Gerald Hodges, LB (2nd team all-B1G, 109 tackles, 8.5tfls, 1 sack); Michael Mauti, LB (95 tackles, 4tfl's, 2.5 sacks, 3INT's)  

Key Returners: Allen Robinson, WR (B1G WR of the Year, 1st team all-B1G, 77 rec, 1,013yds, 11TD's); Kyle Carter, TE (1st team all-B1G, 36 rec, 453yds, 2TD's); Zack Zwinack, RB (1,000yds, 4.9avg, 6TD's); Glenn Carson, LB (85 tackles, 3tfl's, 1 sack); Mike Hull, LB (58 tackles, 5tfl's, 4 sacks); Adrian Amos, CB (44 tackles, 2.5tfl's, 0.5 sacks)

WAY Too Early Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Penn State 17 - This is a tough, TOUGH football game to predict. There are a lot of really talented players returning for the Nittany Lions and this series has been hard to predict because blowouts and upsets have been common and not seen coming either. However, looking at this game in January there is one big time hole in the PSU program that needs to be filled and that's at quarterback. Yes, PSU has a big time recruit in Christian Hackenberg, but there's a big time jump from high school to the top levels of college football. Either way they'll be looking at starting a completely unproven guy at quarterback - a position that is vitally important to the success of Bill O'Brien's system. Call me crazy but the Badgers defense should be good enough to deal with a team that didn't run the ball well last season & has lost all of it's best talent from a season ago on the defensive side of the ball. It will be close though. 

SEASON THOUGHTS: So, that means we're seeing a Badgers team that will be 11-1 to end the regular season - does that mean another trip to Indianapolis for Wisconsin? It could depending on what the Buckeyes do. What's the worst case scenario we see happening for this team? Losses to ASU and Northwestern are certainly possible so at a worst case scenario we see the Badgers as a 9-3 team with a ceiling of 11-1 in Gary Andersen's 1st year at the helm.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com