The No.4 Michigan Wolverines (4-0, 1-0) have shown great strength in every aspect of the game so far. They have been able to make plays consistently on offense, disect opponents on defense, and even show a little razzle-dazzle on special teams thanks, in large part, to Jabrill Peppers. However, the Wolverines will soon face their first true test of the year when they take on the No.8 Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, 1-0) for the first time since 2010.
While Michigan may have had a fairly light schedule so far, Wisconsin has been truly tested. In week one, they outlasted LSU 16-14 in the first college football game played at Lambeau Field. Last week they stifled Michigan State 30-6 in East Lansing.
Historically, the Badgers have been know for producing great running backs, and this year’s team is no different. The team’s star running back is senior Corey Clement, who hasn’t really had a chance to shine in past because of injury and the great running backs who came before him. This year Clement has racked up 251 yards and five touchdowns on 65 carries.
At quarterback, the Badgers have been alternating between senior Bart Houston and freshman Alex Hornibrook, both of whom have shown good signs of leading the offense, certainly more than last year’s quarterback, Joel Stave. Expect them to look for junior Jazz Peavy and senior Robert Wheelwright more often than not when passing the ball.
On defense, the Badgers have been stout against virtually every team they’ve played. They’ve allowed no more than 17 points in any of their first four contests and an average of just 80.5 rushing yards a game. Wisconsin has also forced nine turnovers on the season including four at Michigan State. The Wolverines will have to keep an eye on linebacker T.J. Watt, brother of J.J. Watt, who leads Wisconsin with 18 tackles.
Michigan Players to Watch
De’Veon Smith–Wisconsin and Michigan are very much alike on offense and defense. So much so that it could simply come down to who wants it more. De’Veon Smith will have a huge role to play in answering that. He will need to be more relentless than ever against this Wisconsin defense in order to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Michigan’s Defense–For the most part, Michigan has been great defending the run this season. However, Corey Clement will undoubtedly be the biggest test this defense has faced so far. He’ll get the ball early and often in an effort to wear down Michigan’s front seven. Jourdan Lewis will also have to replicate the way he played against Penn State in order to shut down the passing game.
Jabrill Peppers-I know what you might be thinking, “Why is this guy always a player to watch?”. Well with everything he does, how could he not? On defense, he’ll have to keep an eye on Corey Clement throughout the game. On offense, he can pose as an unexpected running threat that can throw off the Badgers. Perhaps he may even have another punt return in him.
The game will be broadcast this Saturday at 3:30 on ABC.