Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
The Badgers seem to have righted the ship this month, but one more roadblock remains.
At the beginning of the month, the Wisconsin Badgers were 3-2, and had just suffered a disappointing loss to open the Big Ten schedule against Nebraska; many people wondered if the 2012 season would be lost. Then it was as though a fuse was lit, as the Badgers dominated Illinois, and then had decisive victories over Purdue and Minnesota. Suddenly sitting at 6-2, the Badgers look like a lock for the Big Ten title game with Ohio State and Penn State both ineligible for postseason play.
With the continuing improvement of the Badger offense, including Montee Ball beginning to look like Montee Ball again, there is definitely hope rising in Madison. Beating Michigan State is still something that the Badgers need to do to continue their momentum heading into their bye week, and in order to do so they’re going to have to continue to rely heavily on their running game.
To say that Michigan State has a strong defense would be an understatement, allowing just over 15 points a game, ranking them 11th in the nation and first in the Big Ten in total defense as well. Over the past three games, Montee Ball has rushed for 529 yards and 7 touchdowns, which is a huge improvement over his first five games where he rushed for just 453 yards and 7 touchdowns, including three games where he rushed for under 100 yards. One more random running back stat: backup running back James White has averaged 9.2 yards per carry over the last three games, including four touchdowns.
In his Badger career, when Ball rushes for over 100 yards, UW is an impressive 18-3 -- including 5-0 in 2012. In Wisconsin's two losses this year, Montee rushed for a mere 154 yards and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. While I believe that this will be a low scoring game, the key to victory is going to be the performance of Ball and White.
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