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GAME THREAD: Wisconsin vs. Michigan

What do the Badgers need to do to leave the Big House with a W?

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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Keys to a Badgers Victory

The Wisconsin Badgers enter the Big House for another huge road test Saturday night vs. the Michigan Wolverines.

Both teams are looking to bolster their résumé and survive in the hunt for the College Football Playoff. A win, and your hopes are still alive. A loss, and you’re probably sitting this year’s four-team dance out.

With so much at stake in Ann Arbor, what do the Badgers need to do to get a crucial road victory and keep their title hopes alive?

  1. Move the ball through the air
  2. Create some pressure
  3. Control the environment

Going on the road is never easy, but in their one really tough trip so far this season, the Badgers delivered. To me, the road contest at Iowa was the toughest environment they’ll face until they head to Happy Valley. What I’m getting at is the Big House is ... kind of overrated. Everyone always talks about the Big House as some mythical place where teams go to die. However, I traveled there in 2016 and felt like I was in a completely different world. There was hardly any tailgate or fun before the game to speak of. Wisconsin fans struggled to even find the bar while Michigan fans enjoyed their fancy brunches. While the Badgers did end up losing, it wasn’t from any stadium environment. Sure, they fit more people than anyone, but that’s mostly because they pack you in like a sardine.

Wisconsin’s style of play usually fares pretty well in these situations. With the defense struggling as is, the Badgers are going to look to control the ball more now than ever. They come in tied for third in time of possession with an average of 35 minutes per game.

The Badgers will have to play to that number again on Saturday night to limit Michigan’s chances with the football. Third down will be key in this factor, as the one small kink in Michigan’s defense is getting off the field on third down. If the Badgers can control the clock and limit the opposition to create huge plays, they should be prepared and in a position to strike and quiet the “Big House”. — by Tyler Hunt

Final Thoughts on the Game

Something’s gotta give.

And no, I am not talking about the 2003 Nancy Meyers flick.

Wisconsin comes into the game with the fourth-best rushing offense in the country, averaging 287 yards per match-up. On the flip side, Michigan ranks sixth defensively, allowing only 96.5 yards on the ground per game.

When the Wolverines have the ball, the teams will also be evenly matched, as both rank 42nd in the nation with Michigan rushing for 199.8 per game and Wisconsin allowing 130.2 per game.

Jonathan Taylor is third in the nation with 849 rushing yards on the season, good for a 169.8 per game. These numbers put Taylor at the top rushing spot in the Big Ten as well. Not to mention he has scored eight rushing touchdowns, which also lead the big Ten.

Apart from Taylor, Wisconsin is seeing a resurgence from senior Taiwan Deal, who has rushed for 241 yards and most recently gained 74 in Wisconsin’s 41–24 win over Nebraska after not playing since 2016. Those 74 yards were Deal’s most in a game since way back in 2015, when he rushed for 90 at Minnesota.

Michigan’s leading rusher is senior Karan Higdon, who has rushed for 582 yards and 116.4 per game, which rank him second in the conference behind Taylor.

While Wisconsin could have a tough time breaking through the Michigan rush defense, the passing defense is even better, allowing only 134 yards per game, ranking first in the country.

Defensively, Wisconsin will be without starting free safety Scott Nelson for the first half. Nelson was ejected from last weekend’s Nebraska game in the second half for targeting. Sophomore Eric Burrell will start in his place. — by Ryan Mellenthin