Know Your Foe, Week 13: Wisconsin Badgers

Mike McGinnis

The Wisconsin run game is one of the best in the nation, and that alone could spell doom for the Nittany Lions on Saturday.

This Season: 9-2 (6-1)

Just nine points stand between Wisconsin and an 11-0 season. As you might recall, the Badgers fell in strange fashion to Arizona St. in Tempe, and despite a rather comprehensive Ohio State performance, Gary Anderson's team narrowed the gap to a single touchdown before the final whistle had blown. Bucky has been perfect at home with a scoring margin of 247-36. They've feasted on the likes of Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, and other low-quality opponents at Camp Randall, though that shouldn't exactly inspire confidence in you, Mr. "fan of a 6-5 team."

Offense

QB Joel Stave has been, shall we say, a "game manager plus" for Wisky this season. 17 TDs and 9 INTs is certainly respectable, and while his 7.69 YPA figure likely doesn't strike fear into opposing defensive coordinators, that's okay - the running back Hydra of Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement will. The trio have combined for over 3,000 yards on the ground through 11 games for an average of 288 yards per contest. Penn State's defense has had some success against the run this season (the win over Michigan stands out, obviously), but to expect the Lion defense to even contain these three would be asking too much. Between the big hosses on the line and the horses in the backfield, Wisconsin doesn't need to disguise their gameplan to be successful. They're gonna run the ball, and it's up to you to stop them.

When Stave does get the chance to throw, he'll have one of the better receivers in recent B1G history as a target. Jared Abbrederis is like Allen Robinson in the sense that his quarterback will depend on him for much of the passing offense. The senior is responsible for 35% of the team's catches and 43% of their receiving yards. Jacob Pedersen is really the only other threat on the flanks for the Badgers, and White will likely get a few catches out of the backfield, but the lesson remains - what you see is what you get with this offense.

Defense

The tenacious Badger defense has allowed more than three scores just three times this year. BYU was the only team to reach that checkpoint in Madison, and even that statistic was aided by a garbage-time TD. Camp Randall has been a fortress in 2013 - remember how Indiana put up 44 on Penn State and, more impressively, 28 points at Michigan State? The Hoosiers were limited to one measly field goal last week. The biggest advantage for Wisconsin's defense is how little they see the field - the Badgers average over 34 minutes of possession a game, tied for third best in FBS.

Linebacker Chris Borland is one of the best in college football, and despite his height he leads the Badgers in tackles (92 total) and will likely be taken in the middle of April's NFL Draft. The Badgers perhaps don't generate as much of a pass rush as you would expect from a defense that plays with a lead so often, but they are tied with Penn State for 41st most in the country (25).

Special Teams

Nothing much to see here, other than the fact that THEIR KICKER IS A CUTE WITTLE PUPPY DOG AWWWWWWW

Last Game (20-7 W at Minnesota)

Bucky was victimized by the Gophers' havoc-wreaking defense early in the second quarter to jump out to a 7-3 lead but the visitors rebounded by dominating, you guessed it, on the ground. Gordon and White combined for 194 as they slid past their hosts. Stave capped it off with a touchdown pass to Abbrederis to complete the comeback and set the Badgers up with a chance to get to 10 wins for the fourth time in five years.

Gambling Advice From a Degenerate

Back with a new pair of socks to give his final words on the Penn State football gambling season, the highly comparable Kunk7:

Oh man, it’s the last week of the season? Already? Guess that means it’s time for the gambling season in review. Not surprisingly, Penn State struggled against the spread this year, as the somewhat lofty expectations placed on this young team were a bit too...um...lofty? The Nittany Lions head into their final game of 2013 at 6-5 straight up but only 4-7 against the spread. Last week’s loss to Nebraska also guaranteed PSU would stay under the 8 regular season wins the preseason betting line ‘forecasted’.

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Like I had predicted a few weeks ago (see, I’m not always an idiot!), Wisconsin opened as a greater than 3 touchdown favorite this week. With the line currently at -24, it will be interesting to see if the Badgers get bet up even higher, which would be similar to what happened when Wisky closed at -27 versus Indiana two weeks ago.

As for a review of my picks, well, I didn’t actually make any picks, but we all know they would have been terrible had I done that. So I guess I’ll just close by saying Happy Thanksgiving and follow me on Twitter dot com for hot takes, #analysis, and general idiocy.

Fun Fact

Blog You Should Also Be Reading This Week

Bucky's 5th Quarter, or as the kids say, B5Q. As thorough coverage you'd ever want or need about Wisconsin athletics and I'm not even being slightly sarcastic.


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