Who: Michigan v. Wisconsin
When: September 27, 2008, 3:30PM EDT
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TV: ABC Regional ((Coverage Map)), ESPN in other markets
Radio: Michigan Sports Network
Series: UM 48-12-1
Last Meeting: 2007, @ Wisconsin 37-21
Rankings: Michigan - HA! / Wisconsin - #9
Conference: Big Ten
Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Off. Coordinator: Paul Chryst
Off. Scheme: Hand off to PJ Hill
Def. Coordinator: Mike Hankwitz
Def. Scheme: 4-3
2008 Record: 3-0
Last Game: Beat Fresno State 13-10
Wisconsin On Paper
I remember thinking that if we lost to them last year with the talent we had (although it was injured talent), that this year would be 10 times worse. Wisconsin was pretty young last year. But they did have some playmakers. PJ Hill is the man to watch out for. His rushing ability is second probably only to Javon Ringer in the Big Ten right now. Wisconsin comes into this game with the #13 ranked running game in the nation. But, Michigan has the #12 ranked run defense.
This is something of a landmark game for the Maize & Blue. This is Michigan's 500th home game (and a Maize Out). Michigan has won 22 straight Big Ten home openers, and has beaten Wisconsin at the Big House every time for the last 14 years.
You could argue, this has all the markings of an epic collapse.
But I am certainly much happier to play them at home than to go on the road to Camp Randall...easily one of the toughest places to play in the whole country.
Wisconsin on Offense
Like we said, Wisconsin has a very good running attack. PJ Hill will be running all over the field this Saturday. Wisconsin lives and dies with their running game. They have a big and experienced OL and they are good.
However, they rank #96 in the country in passing yardage per game. Their QB Allan Evridge has a decent arm, but this is his first year seeing action since his freshman year in 05. He has thrown 3 TDs this year, one in each game so far. And all of those have been to WR Garrett Graham. The junior wideout is easily the favorite target for Evridge.
They struggled at Fresno State in their last game before the bye week. That game, which was the biggest home game in Fresno State history basically boiled down to 3 missed FSU field goals that could have won the game. Of course a week later, FSU struggled to beat a Toledo team that is supposed to be a pushover, so it's tough to use FSU as a good gauge for Wisconsin.
I truly believe that Wisconsin is better than their Fresno State appearance.
Wisconsin on Defense
Wisconsin does two things very well. They run the ball, and they play tough defense. They kind of remind me of Michigan's 1997 title team. They have a good RB, less than great QB, but a defense that is not only imposing, but backs it up with talent. If they end up making a BCS game or even a title run, it will be because of the defense.
The Fresno State game is a good gauge.. Fresno State showed against Toledo that they can score a ton of points (55-54). And for Wisconsin to hold them to 10 at home is a huge feat. It was the lowest point total for FSU at home in 20 years.
Rich Rodriguez on Wisconsin's D:
"I've been watching more of their defense, a very physical, active defense. Their front is outstanding. Their safeties make plays, their linebackers are active. There's no question they're one of the better teams in the country."
Wisconsin's D is led by LB DeAndre Levy. The senior from Milwaukee is the best tackler on the team. Against Fresno State he had 9 tackles, 4 for loss, and an interception. He's a defensive freak who will be asked to shadow McGuffie and Shaw all day long. Michigan's OL has been better than most predicted this year, so they will be charged with keeping a very physical DL away from Threet and the RBs.Prediction
Well, it shouldn't be raining, which is a great sign for Michigan. We showed against the Irish that while our spread is starting to show some life, it doesn't really work on a wet field with a wet ball.
I fully expect Michigan to be able to move the ball this week. Wisconsin is tough on defense, but we do have some speed and some playmakers starting to emerge. We are healthy, rested, and I hope motivated to come out strong and make some plays.
Wisconsin will run, run, run. Which is a good thing because probably our biggest strength on defense is the run D. Just as long as they don't throw the ball downfield against Morgan Trent, we should be able to stop the big play. PJ Hill is a good back and will break a couple long runs. But that's pretty much the only thing Morgan Trent is good at is running down RBs from behind.
Michigan will play better this week. No doubt. Wisconsin is good though. This should be a good game. I predict that Wisconsin will win...sending Michigan fans into a twirling dark hole of 1-3 misery.