Wisconsin’s only loss last season came in the first week of Big Ten play, when the Michigan State Spartans hung 444 offensive yards – including 175 rushing yards – on the Badgers, beating them 34-24. The No. 6 Badgers return to East Lansing this Saturday seeking payback. The Badgers are an undefeated, explosive, high-scoring offensive juggernaut, but so was Denard Robinson and his Michigan Wolverines. How’d that work out?
Though Wisconsin still has to beat Ohio State on the road and survive two games with surprisingly ranked Penn State and Illinois, this game will in all likelihood be their most challenging. And if the Badgers want to make sure Russell Wilson‘s season as the Badgers’ hired-gun quarterback ends in the Rose Bowl or BCS Championshiop, they’ll have to solve the No. 16 Spartans.
Offensively, It’s No Contest
The Spartans can’t hang with the Badgers on offense. The Badgers average 136 more yards per game (523.2 – eighth-most in the NCAA), including over 100 more yards on the ground (257.5 – seventh-most in the NCAA). Montee Ball leads the Badger ground game, having in six games already compiled 653 yards and 16 touchdown runs, making him the second-best scoring back in the country. Ball’s speed lets him shoot through gaps in the line, then his agility helps him elude tacklers down-field. Although he runs less along the sidelines than up the gut, he’s occasionally been quick enough to round the corner once Wisconsin’s beefy linemen set an edge for him.
The Spartans, meanwhile, don’t even have a top-75 running back. Edwin Baker has been their best, but he’s gained just 419 yards and scored twice on the ground. Le’Veon Bell has six rushing touchdowns, but he’s been used so sparingly that the Badgers defense should know that whenever the Spartans are near the end zone and Bell’s in, it’s a running play.