As good as the offense has been at Wisconsin football, the defense has been even better. They are among the league leaders in many statistical categories. They give up just 5.8 points per game (1st), 182 yards per game (1st), 51 rushing yards per game (2nd), 131 passing yards per game (1st) and they have forced 2.4 turnovers per game (11th).
The defense has been lights out this year. Of the five games they’ve played this year, they’ve shut out three opponents. They’ve also taken advantage of turnovers. At one point during the Northwestern game, the Wisconsin defense scored more points than they gave up.
This is a special unit led by a talented and experienced linebacker group. Chris Orr has been on a tear the last two games, piling up four sacks and making plays in key moments. Zack Baun has been all over the quarterback as well. He had three sacks last week against Kent State and is sixth in the country in sacks with six total sacks.
The secondary has also been solid this year. They haven’t given up too many big plays while also causing turnovers. The defensive line has been stout, constantly stuffing the opponent’s running attack and making life hard for opposing quarterbacks. Freshman Keeanu Benton was very good in relief when Bryson Williams missed a few games with an injury.
As a whole, Wisconsin football has a very talented and deep defense that will give any offense they face some trouble.
Michigan State has another tough defense, as always. This defense ranks up there close to Michigan in total yards allowed, allowing just 300 yards per game (15th). They are also allowing just 18.2 points per game (21st) and only 100.8 rushing yards per game (15th).
That is a stat that really stands out to me. Jonathan Taylor and this rushing attack will have their hands full with this Spartan run defense. The Spartans held Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin to just 38 yards, but then gave up a lot of rushing yards to Ohio State’s running backs. J.K. Dobbins ran for 172 yards and Master Teague III added 90 more.
So while they are generally a tough run defense, I think Jonathan Taylor will be able to find some running room and maybe bust a long one for a score on Saturday.
Their passing defense is also tough, allowing just 199 yards per game. Josiah Scott and Xavier Henderson are the leaders of the secondary. Scott has two interceptions this year and three passes defended while Henderson has four passes defended. They are the number four and five leading tacklers on their team, respectively. Those are two players Wisconsin will need to keep an eye on this weekend.
Michigan State has a great defense, but it’s not as strong as Wisconsin’s is this season.