Mayhem In Madison

Saturday Spotlight

(19) Michigan Wolverines at (8) Wisconsin Badgers

Michigan: After their loss to Penn State in October, many just stated that they were done and that was the end of their season and everything just repeated itself once again with Jim Harbaugh failing to win another big game in the Big Ten. He can beat who they are favored to beat in the conference, but when it comes to facing the big dogs of the Big Ten, this is where his team struggles to come through for the people that pick them each and every week to win football games. I’ve pretty much covered it all year long, but Michigan’s offense isn’t their strength at all as they’ve had trouble at the most important position of them all, the quarterback. Even when Wilton Speight was on the field, they struggled and I often think of that opening game against Florida when he threw two pick-sixes on back to back drives. For a head coach that’s a former quarterback himself, Jim Harbaugh has definitely struggled to recruit a quarterback to play for the university. They’ve quietly bounced back after their blowout loss to Penn State with wins over Minnesota, Maryland, and Rutgers. For all the great things they’ve done this year, they’ve yet to defeat a “bowler” team (a team in the hunt for the playoffs or a bowl game). If they can beat Wisconsin on Saturday and then close the season out against Ohio State the following week, they can be a spoiler.

Wisconsin: There are still a few teams left that have yet to lose a football game this season and this is one of them. The crazy thing is how good they’ve been this year, you really don’t hear much about them. I’ve seen a few of their games and I can vouch for them. This is a scary team that I don’t think many want to see down the stretch and this group has continued the Badger Football tradition of strong offensive line play and a consistent running attack. The Badgers have a star running back by the name of Jonathan Taylor and okay, you probably know what I say here: You better have game if you have two first names and this kid is the real deal. He’s a true power back and when you watch him run, he doesn’t look to be the fastest guy, but he’s quick enough to break tackles, he lowers the shoulder to help initiate contact and he has a tremendous nose for the end zone because each time he touches the football, he’s a threat to take it to the house. Last week against Iowa, they proved how good of a team that they really are as they fought back to beat a Hawkeyes team fresh off upsetting the Ohio State Buckeyes the previous week. For the first time in school history, they are 10-0 and look to be heading back to Indianapolis as the Big Ten West champions and they’ll look to win the conference title. Before all of that can happen, they have to try an avenge a loss to the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan Player To Watch: Brandon Peters– They are down to their third starting quarterback of the season. It just hasn’t panned out with John O’Korn who has struggled all year long. Since taking over for John midway through the first half when they played Rutgers, he’s gone 27-45, thrown for 325 yards and thrown four touchdowns and most importantly, they’ve won. This is the biggest start of his collegiate career.

Wisconsin Player To Watch: Troy Fumagalli– We all know what Michigan’s major priority is and that’s loading up the box to take away Jonathan Taylor and make Alex Hornibrook throw the ball, which he has no problem doing. This is the guy I’ll be watching closing. He’s a 6-6, 248-pound guy that moves a lot quicker than he’s given credit for. He has outstanding range, good quickness to move in the open field after making the catch. Can the athleticism of Michigan’s linebacking core keep up with him?

Final Analysis: This was a very entertaining battle between these two last season at the big house. It was a low scoring affair and Jourdan Lewis made one of the best interceptions I’ve ever seen to seal the game up. The defense will be the big key for both teams again on Saturday. This is another dynamic running back that big blue will be facing in Taylor and this Badgers front seven is a good one. Michigan needs to force Hornibrook to the right side of the pocket and make him move. This is your moment Brandon Peters, play controlled and good things will happen.

Prediction: Wisconsin 20 Michigan 13