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Are Badgers Underdogs Against Michigan State?

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Aaron Henry admires the Leaders Division trophy after beating Penn State 45-7, but more important hardware will be on the line next Saturday against Michigan State.
Aaron Henry admires the Leaders Division trophy after beating Penn State 45-7, but more important hardware will be on the line next Saturday against Michigan State.

MADISON, Wis. -- As a college football fan, you'd better get used to rematches. After winning the Leaders Division Saturday night against Penn State, the Badgers will take to Indianapolis for a second round with the Michigan State Spartans. The Badgers, who lost 37-31 in heartbreaking fashion in East Lansing earlier this year, have been given a chance at redemption for the first time in Big Ten history. 

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have the Badgers as ten-point favorites over the Spartans, which seems a little high for two teams that have already played, with the projected 'underdog' actually winning the first contest. But as we know, Vegas sets the line to increase the number of bets. However, the Badgers have done will when favored by double digits recently. Will a neutral field be worth that much to the Badgers on Saturday? Only time will tell. 

Game Impressions

-- Obviously switching Travis Frederick to center, rather than Ryan Groy, is paying dividends for the Badgers offensive line and the running game. Should Peter Konz leave for the NFL after this season, I would imagine Frederick will stay at center in his place. I'm sure Bob Bostad and the rest of the line would prefer to have Konz back, but Frederick is proving to be a more than capable replacement. 

-- The Wisconsin offensive line dominated on the line, and largely mollified Penn State's impact players on the defensive line. It was a good sign for a line that's been hit by injuries recently, with Konz's injury, the switch between Groy and Frederick, and Wagner's mild injury against Illinois. The line will need to play well again against Michigan State if they want to avenge that earlier loss. 

-- Penn State knew they would have to play a near-perfect game on offense to have a chance on Saturday, which is why Shelton Johnson's interception of Matt McGloin was so crucial. Johnson read McGloin all the way, brought down that ball, and essentially turned the game permanently in favor of the Badgers. 

Badgers Steady in Polls

The Badgers didn't move up in either the AP or Coaches Polls after beating the Nittany Lions on Saturday, staying at No. 15 and No. 12, respectively. This had more to do with a lack of higher-ranked teams losing in front of them, but the AP ranking still seems a little low. Of the ranked 10-win BCS conference teams, only Michigan is lower than the Badgers, checking in at No. 17. Wisconsin also moved up one spot to No. 15 in the BCS standings, and is now ranked by all of the BCS computer rankings. 

Injury Update

X-rays came back negative on Ethan Armstrong's hip, who had to be taken away from the game in an ambulance early in the game. No update on whether or not he'll be able to play against Michigan State, but I would assume he's out until otherwise noted. 


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