As a Michigan State graduate, I took the dispassionate approach to this Spartan Homecoming game. I reviewed the statistics and promptly swallowed my gum.
Here are five reasons that Wisconsin will beat the 15th-ranked Michigan State Spartans in Saturday night's Big Ten College Football Game of the Week (CFGotW):
No. 1 - The Badgers' offense is merciless.
Yeah, yeah, Michigan State's defense is clearly the best in the conference. They have given up an average of 67 rushing yards per game and allowed only three touchdowns via the ground attack.
BUT the Spartans have never, ever faced a team with a more balanced offensive attack than Wisconsin. How does 1,545 yards rushing and 1,594 yards passing sound?
The Badgers have scored 40 touchdowns in six games. Michigan State has scored 18 in six games. Wisconsin has scored an average of 50 points a game.
No. 2 - The Badgers' defense is No. 3 in the conference.
It looks like it will be a great game when you argue that it features the Big Ten's best offensive team (Wisconsin) and the conference's best defensive team (Michigan State). Now flip the comparison.
The Spartans' offense is ranked No. 7 in the Big Ten and the Badgers' defense is No. 3 in the conference. One little statistic in Wisconsin's favor is they have allowed seven touchdowns in 2011, while MSU has allowed eight.
No. 3 - Wisconsin can run the ball and Michigan State can't.
It's difficult to imagine a Mark Dantonio-led Spartan team that cannot run the football, but MSU is No. 10 (gulp) in the Big Ten in rushing offense. Michigan State running back Edwin Baker is No. 8 in the conference in rushing with an average of just under 70 yards per game.
The Badgers' running attack is led by running back Montee Ball (pictured). Ball has rushed for 16 touchdowns and averages 108.8 yards a game, which is just one-tenth of a yard behind league leader Denard Robinson of Michigan.
Ball's rushing partner is James White, who is No. 9 in the conference, just three yards behind MSU's Baker. Add the running abilities of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and you've got a trio of rushers who could be successful against the Spartans' rushing defense.
No. 4 - Russell Wilson is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.
I thought Wilson was being over-hyped before the season started as the guy who could lead Wisconsin to a Big Ten title. Now I see a solid quarterback who seems comfortable running with and throwing the football.
Wilson has completed 74 percent of his passes and has thrown only one interception. He's thrown 14 touchdown passes in six games and has accumulated 1,557 yards passing.
As mentioned before, the Wisconsin quarterback can also run the ball. He has carried the ball 24 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
No. 5 - The Badgers look to avenge last year's loss to the Spartans.
Last year, Michigan State won their showdown match in October, 34-24. The game was a lot closer than the score indicates and some critical mistakes by the Badgers prevented them from finishing with an unbeaten season record.
A number of Wisconsin players, including running backs Ball and White, remember that loss and it's quite likely they've been pointing to this game as their second big test of the season. (The first was the game against Nebraska that the Badgers won, 48-17.)
The College Football Gameday crew will enjoy their visit to East Lansing, and the Badgers will head home Saturday night with another win.
Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 26.