By now, you probably know that our undefeated Badgers are taking their talents to East Lansing (no, not South Beach) this Saturday. There, Bucky will take on another undefeated Big Ten team in Michigan State, also 4-0. Wisconsin enters the game ranked #11, while Sparty checks in at #24. Wisconsin won at Camp Randall last year 38-30, and Michigan State won at Spartan Stadium two years ago by a score of 25-24 in a game the Badgers pretty much gave away. Needless to say, it's a pretty important matchup for both teams. And the blueprint to win for both squads is pretty much the same.
Tom Mulhern of Madison.com writes that the Badgers and Spartans are similar in numerous ways. Both teams boast efficient quarterbacks, prefer going with a running back by committee approach, and are stout against the run. But both leave much to be desired when it comes to defending the pass. Mulhern suggests that Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin should be considered as Big Ten triplets. I don't see why they can't be; all three play old-school smash-mouth football and usually finish in the top half of the conference. But the Badgers have distinguished themselves from Michigan State in the past two years when it comes to the running game- Bucky has outrushed Sparty 474-115 in the last two meetings between the teams. I'd also have to say that Michigan State has a edge when it comes to linebacking corps (Greg Jones scares me), while we have an advantage when it comes to offensive linemen. With two similar teams facing off, Saturday could become the type of close grinding game where special teams and the turnover margin often decide the result.
More Badger Bits after the jump. Also, my new Tuesday feature is revealed and I know you're dying to find out what it is so click the 'continue reading this post' button already will ya?
The Tuesday Top Five (one per quarter, duh) will be a top five list of something different every week. The list could be anything from the top five running backs in UW history to the top five ice cream flavors offered at Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Feel free to disagree with my picks in the comments. Without any further ado, let's get this week's list started:
The Tuesday Top Five: Toughest Conference Games for Wisconsin in 2010
1. at Iowa - The Hawkeyes weren't fazed by 10-0 deficit at Camp Randall last year, coming back to win 20-10. This is going to be a tough road game to win, especially considering it falls just one week after the hyped Ohio State matchup.
2. vs. Ohio State - Wisconsin has struggled with the Buckeyes lately, but something about this game gives me the sense that the Badgers are due for a big win here. It doesn't hurt that the game is at night and will be nationally televised.
3. at Michigan State - The Badgers just don't seem to hit their stride until further into the Big Ten season, which makes this early road matchup slightly scary.
4. at Michigan - Bucky had no problem bottling up Denard Robinson last year, but something tells me that could be more difficult this year. Unless he's injured by the time we play the Wolverines; the guy does take a lot of hits in the course of a game.
5. vs. Northwestern - I don't see us losing this game because it's at home, but the Wildcats might put a scare into a turkey-filled Camp Randall crowd. For whatever reason, the Badgers don't really match up well with Northwestern's spread attack.
Good news out of Michigan State today: Mark Dantonio will coach in Saturday's game from the press box.
Adam Rittenberg discusses in this video what Wisconsin has to do to become an elite team.
Blake Geoffrion is back in Wisconsin to play hockey, but obviously not with the Badgers.
The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will be televised on the Big Ten Network and kickoff for the homecoming game is 11 AM CST. The game could have been shown on ESPN but one of the teams has played poorly enough to make that not a possibility (I'm looking at you, Goldy).
The Rivals.com week 4 position power rankings have been released. Wisconsin appearances include Scott Tolzien as the #24 QB, John Clay at #3 for running backs, Lance Kendricks the #2 TE, Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt respectively at #1 and #8 for offensive linemen, Paul Chryst the number 7 offensive coordinator. and Bret Bielema the 17th ranked head coach. These rankings would seem to indicate offense is our strong side of the ball.