The three matchups that will decide the outcome when Wisconsin football takes on the Michigan Wolverines.
Wisconsin took care of business this past Saturday, controlling the clock and making enough plays to come away with a convincing victory. Despite the 41-24 victory, mistakes and breakdowns allowed Nebraska to make this game closer than it should have been. With Wisconsin’s toughest opponent of the season so far coming this week, the miscues on the defensive side of the ball will need to be cleaned up.
Jonathan Taylor and the rest of the Badger offense had a very successful day against Nebraska. Although they did not finish in touchdowns, Wisconsin dominated Nebraska up front on the first drives of the game. The performance the Wisconsin offense gave us is the reason why many were excited to see this unit in action this year. The Cornhuskers do not boast a great defense, but to see the Wisconsin offensive line control the game from start to finish was encouraging. Taylor ran for 221 yards and three touchdowns, showing the nation why he is still a Heisman candidate. Taiwan Deal and Garrett Groshek also took advantage of the open running lanes that were available all night.
The passing game enjoyed a fair share of success as well. Hornibrook missed a couple throws but overall had a solid game and made some plays with his arm. He distributed the ball very well, finding the trio of Taylor, Davis, and Pryor as well as completing passes to tight end Jake Ferguson. Badger fans should get used to hearing Ferguson’s name because the kid is an absolute stud. He is only a redshirt freshman and is making plays that a lot of veterans could not make. The future is bright at tight end.
Jim Leonhard’s defense had a much different result than the offense on Saturday. The defense did start to apply some pressure on the quarterback, but breakdowns in the secondary occurred too often. I thought the defensive line did a decent job at holding the line of scrimmage and allowing the linebackers to make tackles. T.J. Edwards continues to be the heart and soul of this defense. He turned in another stellar performance by tying for the lead in tackles and capturing two sacks. I do not know where this defense would be without him.
Injuries are starting to hurt the defense. At certain points, the Wisconsin secondary had two true freshmen and a walk-on with little game experience. That is not a recipe for success, especially against an explosive playmaker like Adrian Martinez. Defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk and safety D’Cota Dixon had to come out with injuries, two key guys that the Badgers can not afford to lose. The defense could be missing some key players on defense against Michigan, including safety Scott Nelson who will miss the first half due to a targeting penalty.
Michigan comes into this game with a 5-1 record and with a good amount of momentum. They took care of a pesky Maryland team last week and look to be finding a rhythm on offense. Quarterback Shea Patterson appears to be more comfortable within the offense and is displaying his playmaking ability by extending plays with his legs. He could give the Wisconsin defense the same type of problems that Adrian Martinez did, with Patterson not being as quick but more polished as a passer.
You do not have to say much about the Michigan defense. It is legit, with NFL talent being found at every position. They look to exert their dominance all the way to the final whistle. It is going to be a true Big Ten battle that will please fans with strong, physical football. It should be a fun one under the lights of the Big House.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the most important matchups between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan Wolverines.