Before the 2018 Big Ten season rolled around, there were quite a few things we weren’t sure of, but there was one absolute given. And that was that the Wisconsin Badgers were the prohibitive favorite to win the Big Ten West.

And why not? The Badgers were getting plenty of love, both around the Midwest and also throughout the country as well as that trendy College Football Playoff pick. It also seemed like they had absolutely no competition in the West and the first few weeks of the season were confirming that.

But then Saturday happened, and an unranked BYU team that finished 4-9 a year ago and was a 24-point underdog came into Camp Randall and smacked the Badgers around, winning 24-21.

BYU beat Wisconsin at its own game, dominating the line of scrimmage and running the ball right at the Badgers. They rushed for 191 yards and broke off a pair of long runs at critical times, once to set the tone early, and once to set up the game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

That was a shocker.  That’s what the Badgers usually do.

“They out-executed us,” said Wisconsin senior linebacker and leader T.J. Edwards, who recorded only three tackles and criticized his own play. “Game plan, we were right there. We knew what was coming, but we didn’t get off blocks. We were in the wrong gaps, we missed tackles.

“I take a lot of that stuff on myself and the unit. We have to be better if we want our team to win.”

So that bears the question. If BYU can do this, why can’t Iowa do it again on Saturday night, under the lights in a huge primetime showdown in Iowa City?

Iowa is 3-0 and its defense has been the league’s most impressive unit thus far, with the possible exception of Ohio State’s offense. The Hawkeyes also seemed to have found their offense Saturday night in a win against Northern Iowa, so suddenly we have a competitive game on our hands that could set the tone for the division race the rest of the year.

Iowa comes into the game confident, and it has home-field advantage. The Badgers are staggered and stumbling. Who saw that coming?

“It sucks, obviously,” said Wisconsin senior safety D’Cota Dixon. “Anytime you lose, it hurts. All the preparation you put in, the guys you’ve been practicing with all week. It hurts to see the guys’ reaction on their faces on the sideline, having to accept the loss. It’s not necessarily the loss itself. It’s the opportunity we let go.

“But it’s fuel. I’ll make sure of that. We won’t skip a beat. It’ll be fuel, and we’ll get better from it.”

That might actually be bad news for Iowa, because we don’t know if this Wisconsin loss is the start of a trend or if it was just a blip on the radar. Getting gashed in a running game just doesn’t happen lately in Madison, and neither does being bad on third down on both sides of the ball.

Now the Badgers have something to prove, and it starts with what surely is the game of the year in the Big Ten West. Every other team in the Big Ten West outside of yet-untested Minnesota is a complete dumpster fire right now.

“It hurts losing,” Edwards said. “There are a lot of competitive guys in there and we don’t want to lose ever. It stings, but all we can do right now is look at film and move forward. It has to come from the leaders to get us out of this slump. It is going to be a fun next couple of days to see how we respond.”