Saturday’s match-up between the #13 Michigan State Spartans and #15 Wisconsin Badgers is not only the rematch for one of college football’s most dramatic endings this season, it’s also the deciding factor in which team takes home the Big Ten Title and represents the conference in the Rose Bowl.
WISC Analysis: Prior to the Badgers-Spartans meeting in late October, the Badgers were starting to be included in talk for the national championship game. However, true road games turned out to be a massive road-block for Wisconsin as the Badgers dropped back-to-back games at East Lansing and Columbus, both on heart-breaking long throws near the end of the game.
Since then, the Badgers have been on a mission to get back to that elite level while outscoring their last four opponents 177-54, including a 45-7 triumph over Penn State, which held the third ranked defense in the nation at the time.
Why the Badgers Could Win: Wisconsin’s offense is arguably the best in the nation. Powered by an unbelievable offensive line, QB Wilson and RB Ball find multiple ways to lead the Badgers down the field and score touchdowns. The Badgers also do a great job of not turning the ball over, something which will be key in beating the Spartans at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.
Moreover, the Badgers defense has been criticized for their costly blown coverages, but overall, the unit has been fairly proficient at keeping the opponent’s points off the scoreboard (15.2 points per game).
Why the Badgers Could Lose: As the Badgers found out in their loss at East Lansing, the Spartans are a well-rounded team with a lot of balance. Particularly Michigan State’s defense who consistently stop the run and pass each week; making nightmarish game-planning for Wisconsin. Head Coach Bret Bielema touched upon the topic earlier this week.
“They’re obviously a very good defense. The thing that stands out to me defensively is they’ve got a couple key guys, really, at each tier. They’ve got a couple defensive linemen I think are exceptional football players, two linebackers that are very productive. They’ve got a couple safeties, a corner. So there’s really not a weakness in the group, and that allows them to play consistent,” said Bielema.
Synopsis: It all comes down to the what Wisconsin’s high-ranked offense can do against Michigan State’s high-ranked defense. Unlike their first meeting, I expect the game to start out slow and ultimately stay a low-scoring game. The Badgers like to score a lot of points at Camp Randall, but the neutral field should keep them in check with both team’s defenses playing inspired football. The game won’t end on a hail-mary, but a crucial fourth quarter drive.
Wisconsin 24 Michigan State 20
Who do you think will win the Big Ten Championship? Will there be a lot of points or not many at all? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.