Wisconsin Football v. Michigan State: 3 Keys to Victory

MADISON, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers watches action during the second half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MADISON, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers watches action during the second half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

If the Wisconsin Football team is going to move to 6-0 this weekend, these are their three keys to beating Michigan State.

The eighth-ranked Wisconsin Football team is coming off of another dominating victory this past weekend over Kent State as they moved to 5-0 on the season. On tap this Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans who are coming off a 34-10 loss to Ohio State will be visiting Camp Randall in hopes of pulling off the upset.

Wisconsin has been dominant in four of their five victories, but this week’s game against the Spartans is when their Big Ten schedule really starts to get difficult. In two weeks they will travel to Ohio State, then back home to face Iowa, followed by a trip to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Wisconsin has a difficult opponent this week and if they hope to come away with the win and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive, these are their three keys to victory over Michigan State.

The Badger running game

Heisman hopeful, Jonathan Taylor is always going to play an important role in the success of this Wisconsin football team, but this week it will be crucial that he and the Badger offensive line take advantage of the Michigan State run defense as J.K. Dobbins and the Ohio State offense did last week in their 34-10 victory.

Going into last week’s game, the Spartan run defense was ranked one of the best in the country but the Buckeyes would total 529 yards on offense including a whopping 323 on the ground at a clip of 6.6 yards per carry.

If the Wisconsin offensive line and Taylor can win the battle against the Michigan State front-seven as Ohio State did, they will be able to move the ball effectively, sustain some long drives, while wearing this Spartan defense down. And most importantly, come away with the win. However, if Michigan State can bounce back and the game falls on Jack Coan’s shoulders, this will likely be a close game that could end in an upset.

Stop the Michigan State passing attack

The Wisconsin Badgers boast one of, if not the best defense in all of college football but their secondary is going to have their hands full this weekend against the Michigan State passing attack.

Spartan quarterback, Brian Lewerke isn’t the most accurate passer, completing only 58.5 percent of his throws, but through six games he’s passed for 1,543 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. His favorite target is Darrell Stewart Jr. whose 41 receptions are tied for the sixth-most in the country and his 624 receiving yards is sixth-best as well, while also having four touchdown receptions. Lewerke’s other target is Cody White who has totaled 299 yards on 24 receptions with two touchdowns.

It is going to be vital that the Badgers’ front-seven – led by linebackers Chris Orr, Zack Baun, and Jack Sanborn – are able to put pressure on Lewerke, forcing him to make throws on the run and get rid of the ball before he is ready. Otherwise, if he has time the Spartans will have some big plays in the passing game which will result in scoring opportunities.

Continue to play aggressive

This season there has been a noticeable difference in head coach Paul Chryst’s playing calling as he’s been much more aggressive. In the past, we’ve seen this Wisconsin Football team not willing to go for it on fourth and short opportunities and oftentimes punting from inside their opponent’s territory.

However, this year has been different. Through five games the Badgers already have six fourth-down conversion attempts and have successfully gotten the first down each time. Which as you’d expect, leads the NCAA.

With Taylor, the Badgers’ offensive line, and an incredibly stout defense, Wisconsin needs to use that to their advantage and play aggressively in short-yardage situations. Especially in or around the opposing team’s side of the field. When up against a tough opponent, those extended drives and extra scoring chances could very well be the difference between winning and losing the game.

Wisconsin’s one close game this year came against Northwestern where we saw coach Chryst revert back to his conservative nature. The Badgers punted on multiple fourth and short situations even though they controlled the field position battle and started a number of their drives around mid-field. There was even one instance where they punted from the Northwestern 36 yard line.

Next. Jonathan Taylor becoming a weapon in the passing game. dark

Not just in this game but for the remainder of the season, the Wisconsin Football team needs to remain aggressive in their play calling offensively. It has been a key component to their 5-0 start and their overall dominating performances.