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Discussion: Will the Wolverines win, or will the fans be right?

There’s a lot riding on this game for both teams.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 14 Michigan Wolverines take on the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison tomorrow at 12 p.m. There’s a lot riding on this game, and both fan bases are feeling it. After a dismal second half last week against Rutgers, Michigan has a lot to fix going forward. Wisconsin comes as a huge test for the Wolverines, but the vice versa is true for the Badgers.

Through four games, the Wolverines have emerged undefeated, whereas Wisconsin has fallen from glory through three. It’s safe to say both teams see each other as a metric of success over the last six years. Maybe that plays into why both fan bases think their team won’t win this week. Both sides have their own laundry list of what could spell a loss, and from there it’s not hard to see where that trajectory lands their team later in the season. This begs the question, which side is right in their thinking?

Let’s look back on recent games past in this matchup and the season so far.

The last four matchups between these teams have been anything but close. Wisconsin has taken the last two handily, but last season came as no surprise to who would win. Out of the last six games played against each other, four came much later on in the season; this year the game comes Week 5.

With so much left to be said, this year has produced quite the opposite story. Badger fans have seen their team slide to a 1-2 record and fall out of the top 25. They have watched their losing streak to ranked opponents lengthen to a total of seven games since 2019. Their defense is top five in the country according to SP+ rankings, and with an offense ranked 50th, Wisconsin needs this game to reverse the trajectory of their season.

On the flip side, Michigan hasn’t beaten Wisconsin in Madison in two decades. While Wolverine fans are eager to have that changed, a lot of them are concerned after last week’s performance. A lot of concern stemmed from the second half against Rutgers that contained little to no offensive momentum and questionable play-calling. Michigan has to compensate and adjust for that last half of football if it wants to win.

Both sides aren’t wrong in being concerned for their teams, so which side is going to be right based on what we know about the season so far? If I can toss in my two cents as a notorious doomsday-sayer, I think Michigan takes it, proving Wisconsin fans were right.

I saw what happened last week in person, but I think realistically Michigan has the better team. The game play and play-calling against Washington was iffy and Michigan took the lesson to heart and made necessary adjustments the next week against Northern Illinois. There isn’t really a doubt Michigan hasn’t been preparing for Wisconsin. There is a lot hinging on this season for the Maize and Blue and for head coach Jim Harbaugh. It would be misplaced to say Michigan would come into this game repeating past mistakes. So then if Wisconsin fans were right, what would this game look like?

This game will be a typical Big Ten game and be all about defensive prowess. Both teams have defenses in the top 10, which will likely make this game a defensive slugfest. I have faith Michigan has the edge offensively, if it can execute. It won’t be easy, and running up the middle is not the option this time around. Michigan’s flashy run game was halted against Rutgers and there’s no doubt Wisconsin has the tools to do the same. Michigan needs Cade McNamara comfortable in this game, and once he is, it’s Michigan all day.

Both teams have a lot riding on this game, and if Michigan is going to set out and take the Big Ten East, it needs to win this game. Wisconsin, to its own credit, has so much more hinging on this game, but will it be enough?

Fans aren’t wrong in their concerns for their respective teams, but which fanbase will actually be right? Will Wisconsin drop another loss in Big Ten play? Will Michigan fall to the Badgers once more in Madison? Or my own question to the crowd: will Michigan win like I think they will?

Let us know in the comments!