The Wisconsin Badgers will host the Michigan State Spartans in a Big Ten showdown Saturday afternoon from Camp Randall Stadium. The Michigan State Spartans were handed their first Big Ten loss of the season in a 34-10 road defeat to #4 Ohio State last week. They defeated Northwestern and Indiana in their first two conference battles. MSU’s other defeat this season was a narrow 10-7 home loss to a good Arizona State team. The Spartans lean on their defense to win games but will need more offensive production considering their tough schedule that lies ahead. The Spartans dropped out of the AP Top 25 rankings this week.
The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the hottest teams in the country. They rank #1 in the FBS in several defensive categories. The Badgers are also a big threat on the offensive side led by Jonathan Taylor who ranks third in the FBS with 745 rushing yards. Wisconsin has steadily moved up the AP Top 25 rankings. They come in at #8 in the country this week. The Badgers have covered in three of their four home games which included a 48-0 home win over Kent State last week. This is the first meeting between these two sides since 2016. Wisconsin registered a 30-6 road win in that one.
Spartans Fall to #4 Buckeyes in First Big Ten Defeat
The Michigan State Spartans’ daunting schedule continues in this one. The Spartans were 20 point underdogs at Ohio State last week, and they were crushed 34-10 to fall to 2-1 in conference action. Brian Lewerke tallied 218 passing yards in the defeat. The senior QB has displayed significant improvement compared to last season, and he has collected 1543 passing yards with an 11:2 TD to INT ratio. He will be challenged by the #1 passing defense in the country in this one.
The Spartans’ rushing offense is highlighted by Elijah Collins with 476 rushing yards. The freshman RB has rushed for 195 yards in three conference games, and he has tallied 476 rushing yards on the season.
If Michigan State is going to have success in the air in this game, Darrell Stewart Jr. will play a key role. The senior WR is tough to defend, making 41 receptions for 624 receiving yards, establishing himself as one of the best receivers in the Big Ten. The MSU offense has been limited two 10 or fewer points twice this season, and their season-high was a40 point effort in their win against Northwestern.
The Michigan State defense was able to contain Ohio State at times which is a good sign entering this one. The Spartans are effective against both the pass and run. They are especially effective against the run and they face a tough task guarding Jonathan Taylor. The Spartans are averaging 27.8 points, ranking them 75th overall. They are limiting opponents to 18.2 points, placing them 21st in the FBS, and they hold a 1-1 road record.
“I don’t think we stopped playing hard,” head coach Mark Dantonio explained after the Spartans' loss to rival Ohio State. “But as I told the football team in the locker room, we’ll always be defined by what we do next.
“We’ve got to rise back up this week because we go to Wisconsin.”
#8 Badgers Crush Kent State, Maintain Perfect Record
The undefeated Wisconsin Badgers will attempt to improve to 3-0 in Big Ten play in this showdown. The Badgers defeated Michigan and Northwestern in their first two conference games. They resumed their stifling defensive play in an easy 48-0 home win against Kent State of the MAC in a matchup that had the Badgers favored by 35 points. Jack Coan hasn’t put up big numbers on an offense that revolves around their ground game. The junior QB is efficient, completing 74% of his passes for 939 passing yards and a 7:1 TD to INT ratio.
“You know you were in for a heck of a ball game, and obviously a ton of respect for coach Dantonio, not just what he’s done program-wise but how they play football," Chryst said during his press conference on Monday. "You knew it was going to be a physical game. You knew you had to be tough, you knew that in every phase.”
-Wisconsin HC Paul Chryst on facing the Spartans.
Watch for the dominant Jonathan Taylor who always has a big impact on the game. The junior RB recorded four touchdowns against Kent State last week, and he has accumulated 745 rushing yards on an average of 7.3 yards per attempt. This will be his biggest challenge of the season against a stifling Spartans rush defense.
Quintez Cephus is the only Badgers’ receiver with over 200 receiving yards. The junior WR has only tallied a combined 66 receiving yards in his last two games, and he is up to 263 receiving yards on the year. The Wisconsin offense leans heavily on their rushing offense and for good reason as they stand 10th in the country with 254 rushing yards per game.
The Badgers’ spectacular defense posted their third shutout of the season in the 48-0 win against Kent State last week. They are limiting opponents to 182 total yards per game, and they are difficult to solver both in the air and on the ground. Badgers linebacker Leo Chenal, who is sixth in team tackles, is questionable with an upper-body injury. Wisconsin stands 11th in the FBS with an average of 43.4 points per game. The Badgers defense is holding opponents to 5.8 points which is the best in the FBS.
The Michigan State Spartans are:
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against a team with a winning record.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
The Wisconsin Badgers are:
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 170 passing yards in their previous game.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.