Wisconsin vs. Penn State: Complete Game Preview
Here's a look at the complete game preview of the Badgers' upcoming game against Penn State.
Can Ball Make History?
Montee Ball enters the Badgers' final regular-season game against Penn State tied for the NCAA's career touchdown record. Wisconsin's star tailback scored once in the game against Ohio State bringing him equal with Trevor Prentice at 78.
Now, the question is whether he can break the record against Penn State.
Overall, the Nittany Lions have a very solid run defense, ranking 23rd in the nation at a little over 125 yards given up per game. Additionally, they have only given up nine rushing touchdowns on the season. Unfortunately, Penn State will be without star linebacker Michael Mauti, who is out with a knee injury.
With the heart and soul of the Nittany Lion defense out, expect Ball to rush for at least one touchdown and own the record outright.
Do Teams Take Game Seriously?
Believe it or not, this game has almost zero implications for either team. Penn State is ineligible for the postseason following the Sandusky scandal and cannot claim a share of the Leaders division title. For Wisconsin, the Badgers also cannot earn a share following their loss to Ohio State, but they locked up their spot in the Big Ten title game weeks ago.
The question is whether the teams will take the game seriously.
For Penn State, the answer is obvious. The program and the university desperately want a win to further move away from the Paterno era and the Sandusky scandal. Additionally, many of the seniors want to cap off their careers with a win and prove that Penn State football will continue to be competitive in the Big Ten.
For Wisconsin, the answer isn't as clear. The Badgers' only real incentive is to win in order to build momentum for the Big Ten title game, and to improve their bowl spot should they lose. However, I expect Bielema and company to take this game seriously.
The Badgers have had a snake-bit season and need a win at Penn State if they are going to seriously challenge for the Big Ten title. Look for the Badgers to play everyone in attempt to ensure the win.
Penn State Will Win If...
In order for Penn State to beat the Badgers, it must shut down Montee Ball and the Badgers rushing attack. Ball is the key to the Badgers offense, and with an inexperienced quarterback under center, the Badgers are going to pound the ball. The Nittany Lions defensive line is going to have to win the battle in the trenches, and the defense has to keep the Badger offense off the field and out of the end zone.
On offense, McGloin and company have to continue their explosive ways. Big-play threat Allen Robinson must challenge the Badger secondary, and he’s going to have to score at least one touchdown through the air. Additionally, McGloin has to play-free football.
If so, Penn State will win 24-17.
Wisconsin Will Win If...
Montee Ball and the rushing attack have to control the game for the Badgers to beat Penn State. The Badgers have to keep the Penn State offense off the field, and they have to shorten the game. Additionally, Ball and company have to keep the pressure off Curt Phillips. However, Phillips will have to make plays. The Badger QB needs to connect on his play-action and deep throws in order to keep the defense honest.
On defense, the Badger defensive line has to control the line of scrimmage. Beau Allen and company not only have to shut down the run, but will also have to constantly pressure McGloin. Additionally, the Wisconsin defense must force at least one turnover to limit Penn State's offensive chances.
If so, the Badgers will win 31-17.
Montee Ball and the Wisconsin rushing attack are going to be too much for the Penn State defense with star linebacker Michael Mauti out. Ball will rush for at least 150 yards and a score, while Curt Phillips makes timely throws and gets at least one score through the air.
On defense, Chris Borland returns from injury to lead a dominant defensive performance that completely shuts down the Penn State offense. Up front, the defensive line notches at least two sacks, while the secondary locks down Allen Robinson and also records an interception.
Wisconsin will win 31-17.