Wisconsin vs. Stanford: Front 7 Will Lead David Shaw's Team to Victory

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2013

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13: A.J. Tarpley #17 of the Standford Cardinal (L) celebrates with teammate Chase Thomas #44 after Thomas recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Stanford boasts one of the best defenses in the nation because of its front seven, and that group will earn the Cardinal a victory on Tuesday.

The Wisconsin Badgers are lucky to have a behemoth offensive line to their credit, but the Cardinal's front seven will slowly but surely wear them down.

That's a major problem for Barry Alvarez's Wisconsin team. If the Badgers lose the battle in the trenches, they will have nowhere to turn. Montee Ball will have nowhere to run, and Curt Phillips isn't ready to win a game on his own.

Everywhere you look, David Shaw's Stanford team has a monster lurking in its front seven. Many people know Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas, but Trent Murphy and A.J. Tarpley are also linebackers to be feared.

Together, those four players patrol the field with reckless abandon. Skov and Tarpley are tackling machines. Thomas and Murphy simply punish quarterbacks.

Even if the Cardinal's defensive line was below-average, these four players would have a great game. But it's not. Stanford's defensive line brings talent to the table as well.

Ben Gardner is another capable pass-rusher at defensive end, while Terrence Stephens and Henry Anderson each provide run-stuffing support to fill out the defensive line.

It would be one thing if Shaw's squad only brought one element to the table defensively, but it has it all. An array of capable pass-rushers, strong run-stoppers and a tough attitude make it extremely difficult to move the ball on this team.

Wisconsin's offense has struggled throughout the season and does almost nothing when the running game is bottled up. The Cardinal don't give up rushing yards, so Ball and Co. will struggle throughout the game.

Look for this game to be blue-collar. Normally, that would favor the Big Ten, but Stanford proved itself as one of the toughest teams all season long.

The Badgers will try to beat Stanford at its own game in this one, but it's not going to happen. Shaw's team is all grit and no glamor, and its front seven will show that on Tuesday.