The No. 15 (4-1) Wisconsin Badgers have a 15-1 in road games under head coach Paul Chryst. Impressive.
Chryst and his team will be looking to make it 11 straight wins on the road versus No. 12 Michigan (5-1).
If Michigan is to get the job done, they’ll have to cross at least a couple of these keys to victory off the list.
Fastest start of the season
Score. Make a stop. Score. Make a stop. Repeat.
If Michigan starts the game similar to that, they’re going to win this game.
Much has been made of how the Wolverines have had their fair share of difficulties getting touchdowns in the first quarter this season, and there’s a strong chance they’re sick of hearing the criticism.
The best way to shut critics up is to go out there and change the narrative. The amount of chatter there’s been on this topic has been significant, and there are a good amount of players that have a chip on their shoulder on offense about the criticism.
On the flip side, Michigan’s D must not let Wisconsin to win the time of possession battle early, whether they score many points in the process or not. The running game of Wisconsin can wear a team down by the second half, which makes it very important to force three and outs and give the ball back to Shea Patterson and Co.
Basically, kick some ass and score some points, put this game out of reach before Wisconsin’s even knows what hit them.
Make Wisconsin’s offense one dimensional
I’ll preface this by saying QB Alex Hornibrook can get things done. He’s consistently clutch on third down and he’s done a great job of not turning the ball over in 2018. But much of Hornibrook’s success is because the passing game gets opened up by the Badgers running game.
Enter RB Jonathan Taylor, who currently has 849 yards rushing (No. 3 in FBS) and 8 touchdowns. The Wisconsin offensive line is one of the best in the Big Ten and has opened up gaping holes for Taylor time and time again this season, but the Badgers haven’t faced a team anywhere near as good as Michigan’s when it comes to opposing run defenses.
It’s strength versus strength. Michigan faced a run-heavy Maryland team last week that came into the game at No. 10 in rushing offense and completely bottled up the Terrapins. The Badgers are a slight step up from the Maryland run-o but if past is prologue the Wolverine D will limit the damage Taylor attempts to exude.
If Taylor can’t get things churning, things could get dicey if Hornibrook is asked to throw at a high clip. It’s a reasonable to think his interception happy ways from 2017 could come back (15 INT’s)
Beware of the underdog
Every writer at ESPN picked Michigan to win, Vegas has Michigan favored by more than a touchdown, people are starting to buy what Jim Harbaugh is selling.
But that doesn’t mean much, and Harbaugh doesn’t like everyone heaping praises upon his team, he rather be the underdog and have the “us against the world mentality”.
But Wisconsin is who will be running out of the tunnel at the Big House under the lights perceived to be the team that has a longshot to win the game.
Anyone who’s watched Wisconsin knows that they nearly always play a disciplined and tough brand of football that translates into them winning a lot of games and when they are defeated they don’t lose by much.
Paul Chryst will have his team prepared, and the Michigan team is well aware of what the Badgers are all about. Respect the underdog, beware of it.
Take advantage of all the injuries on Wiscy defense
Starting DL Isaiahh Loudermilk will be out, and likely much of the Wisconsin secondary will be too.
Starting safety Scott Nelson will miss the first half after being ejected for targeting versus Nebraska.
Maybe who Wisconsin trots out to replace those who are injured will be capable fill-ins. But there’s only one way to find out, and that’s for Michigan to test the Badgers secondary. If there’s a player or two that U-M thinks they can shred, they’re going to do it, even if that means throwing a little more than they normally would on a given week.
The cohesiveness of the Wisconsin D is going to be tested, and with the amount of different faces starting tonight, you have to think Michigan will have chances to opportunities.