Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans: Showdown in East Lansing

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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans: Showdown in East Lansing
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien drops back for a pass during a game against Arizona State. The Badgers went on to win 20-19.

The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (4-0 overall, 1-0 road) travel to East Lansing this week for their Big Ten conference opener against the No. 24 Michigan State Spartans (4-0 overall, 3-0 home).

Coming into this important matchup, Wisconsin boasts the 13th ranked offense in the nation (484 yards per game) as well as the 15th ranked defense (265.3 yards allowed per game). Meanwhile the Spartans come into this matchup sporting the 20th ranked offense (464.8 yards per game) and the 49th ranked defense (337.8 yards allowed per game).


The Breakdown

Wisconsin Passing Offense vs. Michigan State Passing Defense

The Spartans defense has given up most of their yardage to passing, ranking 86th with 252.5 passing yards allowed per game through their first four games. The Badgers offense averages 226.5 passing yards per game through their first four games ranking them 52nd nationally.

Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien has racked up 851 passing yards for five touchdowns and only two interceptions. His favorite receiver seems to be TE Lance Kendricks, who has 17 receptions for 299 yards and three touchdowns.

WR Nick Toon, who had four receptions for 54 yards in the one game he played this season, and WR David Gilreath, who has five catches for 75 yards in two games this season, should also see considerable playing time after missing action due to injuries in past weeks. The return of these two additional targets should boost the passing offense for the Badgers on Saturday.

EDGE: Wisconsin Badgers


Michigan State Passing Offense vs. Wisconsin Passing Defense:

The Badgers' passing defense is ranked 30th in the nation (170.8 passing yards allowed per game) while the Spartan passing offense is ranked 46th (233.3 passing yards per game). This should be one of the key areas to keep an eye on during the game.

Spartan QB Kirk Cousins has accumulated 863 passing yards for six touchdowns and only two interceptions. The leading Spartan receiver is WR B.J. Cunningham, who has 14 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

The Badgers defense will need to shut down Cunningham in order to give their DEs time to get to Cousins. If they can successfully shut down Cunningham, the Badgers should leave East Lansing with their undefeated record still alive.

EDGE: Wisconsin Badgers


Wisconsin Rushing Offense vs. Michigan State Rushing Defense

The Spartans come into this matchup with the 10th ranked rushing defense in the nation, allowing 85.3 rushing yards per game. However, this stingy Spartan defense will be lining up across from the 10th ranked rushing offense in all of college football (257.5 rushing yards per game).

In 77 rushing attempts this season, RB John Clay has accumulated 501 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Clay is averaging 125.3 yards per game but should see a decrease in his numbers this week. Clay will still need to have a considerable impact in this game in order to open up the passing game for Tolzien.

EDGE: Wisconsin Badgers


Michigan State Rushing Offense vs. Wisconsin Rushing Defense

The Badgers rushing defense is ranked 15th, allowing 94.5 rushing yards per game. They will be facing a tough rushing attack that is averaging 231.5 rushing yards per game, ranked 17th in the nation. RB Edwin Baker is the leading rusher with 449 yards in 57 attempts and five touchdowns.

Another key player in this formidable rushing offense is RB Le'Veon Bell who has 396 yards on 48 carries and has scored a team-high seven touchdowns. With this running back tandem the Spartans should be able to wear down the Badger defensive line considerably and take some pressure off of Cousins to open up the passing game a little bit.

EDGE: Michigan State Spartans


Overall Edge: Wisconsin Badgers

Final Prediction: Wisconsin Badgers 24, Michigan State Spartans 17

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