Wisconsin – Michigan State Football Preview
For the Wisconsin Badgers starting 6-0 in the B1G and being #4 in the country is not a good enough resume for some to put them in the National Championship conversation. Many of the NCAA pundits have questioned the Badgers chances of playing for a BCS title due to their strength of schedule… or lack there of. This is also reflected in the all important BCS standings in which Bucky is back two spots at #6 behind Boise and Oklahoma State.
I am in a tough spot here, as a Badger fan I find it outrageous that Bucky is ranked behind a team from the dog and pony show they call the Mountain West Conference. But also as a staunch supporter of the BCS system I completely understand the ranking. To prove the doubters wrong the Badgers quest to play in New Orleans on January 9th starts this weekend.
Thirteenth-ranked Michigan State will be Bucky’s toughest test of the season thus far. It will also be the first time that Russell Wilson will take this team into truly hostile territory as East Lansing is sure to be rocking. This will be a true test not only for Wilson, but the entire offense.
No longer are the Badgers facing the gaggle of Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and B1G bottom dwellers (oh, and Nebraska) that have led them not only to 6-0 but the highest scoring offense in the country. Sparty comes into Saturday ranked number three against the run, number one against the pass, and as averages tell us – the number two defense in college football.
Although, much like Bucky’s offense it may not be smart to take MSU’s defensive numbers at face value either. The only truly tough test they have had has been Notre Dame, in which they gave up 31 points to a then 0-2 team. Other than that they have dominated the corpse of THE Ohio State University football program and shut down Denard Robinson.
That gets less impressive when you actually watch the Wolverines quarterback play. Sparty had the perfect gameplan against him – stop the jump ball. It amazes me how in love with Robinson many are, because when I see him play I see a volatile combination of Vince Young’s legs, Chad Pennington’s arm and Willie Totten’s decision making. That being said, these are two evenly matched teams with Sparty’s offensive foibles being held up by their defense, and vice versa for the Badgers. In the long run I think it will come down to the play of Kirk Cousins vs. the ability of the Badgers and Paul Chryst to manage the clock and keep the ball out of his hands. Cousins is such a wild card in this game that I would advise sticking away from the line (Bucky -9) as I can see an extremely close game, but with Wilson and Ball they are never far way from putting up 50.
Everyone seems to want a college football playoff. Is that not what every regular season game is? Even though the Badgers BCS fate is almost entirely out of their hands they must maintain a playoff mentality of ‘win or we are out’. If the Badgers beat Michigan State this weekend and run the table in the B1G they are sure to get some help from the BCS teams ranked above them. LSU heads to Alabama November 5th while Oklahoma plays at OK State the first week of December.
Boise State still has all of their conference games to play, and if the Badgers were to go undefeated their schedule when juxtaposed with the Bronco’s should tip the computer in Big Red’s favor. Like I said, it is out of their hands and the cards are not stacked in their favor but for the first time in recent memory the Wisconsin Badgers have a legitimate chance to play for a BCS title… but they have to beat Sparty first.
Sarah ‘the girl who sits in the cube next to me’s take: ‘Well, you’re a Badger fan so I feel I have to go the other way. (I respond, ‘why?’) ‘They’re at home, they’re not a bad team, and they just beat a good team last week.’ (‘well, they beat Michigan’) ‘Yeah, and my fiancé said something about them having a good quarterback, and they won.’ (‘what if I told you that the line was 9?’) ‘I don’t know what that means. Michigan State wins.’