Both teams are looking to have a better year after a disappointing 2020 campaign. The Badgers finished the regular season with a 3-3 record and a victory over Wake Forest in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Penn State started the 2020 season with five straight losses before winning their final four games. They did not play in a bowl game last season.
Starting in 2021, both teams are ranked inside the AP Poll’s Top 25. The Nittany Lions start the year as the 19th-ranked team and Wisconsin is ahead of them at 12.
This is going to be one of the better games to watch in Week 1, and here are three reasons why the Wisconsin football team will come out of this matchup with a 1-0 record.
1. The Defense
It’s no secret that the strength of this Wisconsin football team is their defense. Led by Jim Leonhard, the defense has been a perennial top-10 unit since he took over.
This year, they are returning eight starters from a year ago. Defensive linemen Garrett Rand (graduation), Isaiaah Loudermilk (NFL Draft), and safety Eric Burrell (NFL Draft) are the only players that left. So their linebacking corps that consists of Bryan Sanborn, Leo Chenal, Noah Burks, and Nick Herbig stayed intact. Sanborn and Chenal are considered one of, if not the best duo in the conference.
Anchoring the defensive line once again will be Keeanu Benton, who could very well be an NFL Draft prospect. Senior Bryson Williams is back to provide depth at the nose tackle position on the line as well. Matt Henningsen and Isaiah Mullens will be the ends on the line for the Badgers.
The secondary is also a veteran unit. Both Caesar Williams and Faion Hicks are back for a final season at cornerback while Scott Nelson and Colin Wilder will be at safety.
All-in-all, this is a very good unit, and that’s not even looking at the depth. This defense is loaded with talent behind the starters as well.
It’s going to be tough for any team to score a lot against this defense. In the first games of the season, the defense usually has an advantage. I think the Badgers are going to be able to slow down and limit the Nittany Lions offense enough for the Badgers to get a win at home.