Matt and Zac Snyder of Bleacher Report and mittensportsreport.com break down this week's University of Michigan football matchup.
When Michigan Has the Ball...
Michigan's Passing Attack vs. Wisconsin's Secondary
Zac says: Tate Forcier may have found a new favorite target with last week's emergence of wide receiver Roy Roundtree. Michigan's passing game has struggled at times this year because of the lack of a true go-to receiver. If Forcier can spread the ball around the field and count on Roundtree to make a big play when needed, then Michigan fans may see some progress in the passing game. Keep an eye on Chris Marados; his four interceptions leads the Badger defense. Advantage: Even
Matt says: Rumors were rampant on Friday that Denard Robinson would get the start Saturday at Wisconsin. Even if the rumors turn out to be true, I would still expect Tate to see the lions share of time under center. Denard Robinson should get more looks (the Wolverines need big plays), but Tate is still a much more polished passer, mistakes included. Advantage: Even
Michigan's Running game vs. Wisconsin's Front Seven
Zac says: Michigan leads the Big Ten in scoring because of their strong running game. Five Michigan runners have each reached the 200 yard mark for the season, while seven runners have achieved per carry averages of at least 5.3 yards on at least ten carries. Brandon Minor exploded last week with an effort that combined power and speed. Wisconsin's defense ranks behind only Ohio State in stopping the run but don't count on anyone slowing down the Wolverine ground game for 60 minutes. Advantage: Michigan
Matt says: Whether or not Michigan has success on the ground (and on offense as a whole) will depend on the health of Brandon Minor. Wisconsin has one of the best run defenses in the conference, and we've learned that the Wolverines can lean too much on their passing game. If Minor can carry the load, Michigan has a chance at running a balanced offense which would help to keep their defense off the field. Advantage: Even
When Wisconsin Has the Ball...
Wisconsin's Passing Attack vs. Michigan's Secondary
Zac says: Scott Tolzien has been solid for much of the season, but not spectacular. Fortunately for Tolzien, the Michigan secondary has been less than solid. The Wolverines have given up more pass yards than any other Big Ten team except for Indiana. Purdue's Joey Elliott enjoyed a career game opposite the winged helmet last week in Purdue's first win in Ann Arbor in 43 years. Nick Toon will require a lot of attention from the defensive backs but the Badgers' biggest playmaker in the passing game may be Garrett Graham. Graham's four touchdown receptions leads the team. Advantage: Wisconsin
Matt says: Wisconsin ranks as one of the worst passing teams in the Big Ten, but Michigan is also near the bottom of the list in pass defense. There really wont be a winner of this matchup, just a bigger loser. The only way Michigan wins this matchup is if the run defense can force the Badgers into long passing situations. Advantage: Wisconsin
Wisconsin's Running Game vs. Michigan's Front Seven
Zac says: John Clay beat out Zach Brown for the starting tailback spot in training camp and hasn't looked back since. Despite a knee injury in the second half of last week's game, Clay ran for 134 yards on just 15 carries against Indiana. Brown and Montee Ball may also see a few carries as the game progresses. The Michigan front line will need to stay focused on their assignments all game long and avoid the big play in order to be successful. Advantage: Wisconsin
Matt says: The Badgers are always known for a bruising ball control running offense, and this year's team is no different. Running back John Clay is the Big Ten's leading rusher with 973 yards on the ground this season. Wisconsin won't look to make flashy plays in the run game; they simply line up and run it straight at the defense. If Wisconsin can control the line of scrimmage and the game clock with the running game, it will be another ugly day for the Wolverine defense. Advantage: Wisconsin
Zac (6-4) says: Playing at Camp Randall Stadium is always tough; playing on Senior Day adds an extra level of difficulty. This game is a real gut check for Rich Rod's guys and may decide the fate of the entire season. The strong running games of both teams may make this one of the quickest played college football games of the year. Final Score: Wisconsin 27, Michigan 23
Matt (4-5) says: I want to pick Michigan in this game, and I really want to see them win, but it's a difficult matchup in one of the toughest road venues in college football. Time is running out on Michigan's season and bowl eligibility hangs in the balance. Michigan must control the ball on offense to give the defense a rest, and the defense must limit big plays so the offense doesn't have to play from behind the entire game. Maybe I'd pick Michigan if this game was in Ann Arbor, but it's not, so I won't. Final Score: Wisconsin 31, Michigan 24