Get to know some opposing players ahead of the Wisconsin football game this Saturday.
The Michigan and Wisconsin football teams seem to be trending in different directions. The Badgers, although they have played just one game, have looked good in limited action. The Wolverines, on the other hand, have been disappointing after a big win over Minnesota to start the year.
Even though Michigan has two ugly losses, a blown lead to Michigan State and a blowout loss to upstart Indiana, I still think this is a team Wisconsin cannot take lightly. Michigan has recruited very well under Jim Harbaugh and has some very talented players.
We are going to take a closer look at three Michigan Wolverine players that could impact the game this Saturday evening. I’m going to avoid players like Joe Milton, the starting quarterback because that’s obvious. Let’s take a look at a few opposing players that we may not be real familiar with.
1. Ronnie Bell – WR
Junior receiver Ronnie Bell is the last man standing in what was a nice receiving corps for Michigan last year. Donovan Peoples-Jones went to the NFL, Tarik Black transferred to Texas and Nico Collins opted out this offseason and won’t return to the Wolverines. That leaves just Ronnie Bell, who was the team leader in receptions (48) and yards (758) last season.
So far, having played just three games, Bell is easily Milton’s favorite receiver. He leads the team in receptions (14) and yards (269) and has a receiving touchdown. The next closest player in receiving yards is sophomore Cornelius Johnson with 134 yards on nine receptions.
Bell was also the third-highest graded receiver in Week 10 according to ProFootball Focus.
Bell is clearly the go-to receiver. Based on what we saw with the Illinois game, I would expect to see Rachad Wildgoose shadowing Bell for most of the game. This may for the Wolverines to spread it around a little more, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Bell is the most-targeted player on Michigan Saturday night.
2. Hassan Haskins – RB
This Michigan running back group is a muddled mess. There isn’t one true guy that is the bell cow of the team. Quarterback Joe Milton is actually the team leader in carries. Behind him are four running backs that will split up what is left. Hassan Haskins, Blake Corum, Chris Evans, and Zac Charbonnet all have 10+ carries this season. Haskins, however, has the most rushing yards on the team, even more than Milton.
The reason I chose to focus on Haskins over the other backs is because of his explosiveness. The junior running back has 157 yards on just 20 carries, giving him a 7.9 yards per carry average. He also has three touchdowns to add to that total. Most of his damage came in the first two games. Last week, against Indiana, the Wolverines were forced to throw the ball more because they got down early, so the already limited carries became even more limited.
Haskins is the likeliest player out of the Michigan backfield that I would expect to have a big play against the Badgers.
3. Kwity Paye – DL
Defensive lineman Aiden Hutchinson was going to be my guy here, but he fractured his leg last week against Indiana. Now, the Wolverines will need another defensive lineman to step up. I think that guy will be Kwity Paye.
Paye finished seventh in tackles on last year’s Michigan team and first in tackles for a loss with 12.5. He was also second in sacks last season behind Josh Uche, who went to the NFL.
This season, Paye already has four tackles for a loss and two sacks, both lead the team.
The Wisconsin football team did well holding up against the Illinois pass rush in their first game, but Paye will likely be a more difficult opponent.
If you watch ESPN’s College GameDay, Paye was featured on a segment about his family’s journey from West Africa to America. If you haven’t watched it yet, check it out below.
The Badgers will get to take on a big opponent on national television on Saturday and show they are the real deal. If Wisconsin football can keep Bell and the Michigan running game in check, they should have a pretty good chance to win this game and get back into the Big Ten Championship race.