The Michigan Wolverines (8-2, 5-2) have won three straight games, each of them in dominant fashion. However, they’ll have a tough test ahead as they take on the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers in their final road game of the season.
The Badgers (10-0, 7-0) are one of just four undefeated teams left in college football and stand as the Big Ten’s best chance to get a team into the College Football Playoff.
The offense is headlined by running back Johnathan Taylor. The freshman has racked up 219 carries for 1525 yards so far, good enough for best in the Big Ten and third best in the country. The Badger backfield also features weapons such as Bradrick Shaw and Garrett Groshek.
Alex Hornibook takes the snaps under center for Wisconsin. The redshirt sophomore has thrown for 1863 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The receiving core is led by senior Troy Fumagali. The tight end leads active players with 33 receptions for 422 yards and three touchdowns. His top receiving mates include Danny Davis III and A.J. Taylor.
The most intimidating part of the Badgers, however, is its defense. The unit ranks in the top three in total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed and total points allowed this season. Its impact players include linebacker Garret Dooley, whose 6.5 sacks are second best in the Big Ten, and safety Joe Ferguson, whose four interceptions are tied with teammate T.J. Edwards and Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye for third best in the Big Ten.
Players to Watch
So often, the running game has carried the Wolverines offense just enough to pull out wins. However, given the defense that Michigan is facing, running backs might be better suited trying to run through a wall.
That means it’s up to Brandon Peters to keep the offense going against arguably the best defense in the country. He’ll need to keep the ball moving downfield and avoid coughing the ball up against a Wisconsin defense that feasts on turnovers, especially interceptions. The Badgers are first in the Big Ten with four interceptions returned for a touchdown.
The Front Seven
Over the course of the program’s history, the Wisconsin Badgers have been known to produce some of the better offensive lines in the country year in and year out, thus making for dangerous running backs.
Michigan’s defense has been known for its speed. However, they may need to show more physicality up front if they want to at least regulate Bucky’s rushing attack. That means big expectations for guys like Rashan Gary and Maurice Hurst to put more pressure at the line of scrimmage.
With Michigan’s rushing attack at risk of being shut down, it’ll be up to the maize and blue receivers to make most of the big plays for the offense.
Over the course of the season, Perry has proven to be the real go-to guy on the perimeter. However, he hasn’t accumulated any stats in the last two games due to ankle injury. His health and production will be key in this contest.
The game can be seen this Saturday, Nov. 18 at 12 p.m. eastern on ESPN and on the WatchESPN app.