Wisconsin Preview

Michigan's final home game of the season is on Saturday, and Seniors will be honored for Senior Day. Stephen Schilling, Mark Moundros, Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh, Greg Banks, Adam Patterson, Perry Dorenstein, John Ferrara, James Rogers, Renaldo Sagesse and Martell Webb will be honored along with Seniors who may not come back for a 5th year like Jon Bills, Steve Watson, Brandon Herron, Mike Williams, Scott Schrimscher, etc. This will be the 64th meeting between the Badgers and the Wolverines with Michigan winning 49 of the first 63 including 22 of 27 in Michigan Stadium. The last time Michigan was defeated by Wisconsin in Michigan Stadium was in 1994, 19-31. Wisconsin will come into Ann Arbor as a 5 to 7 point favorite, and ranked #5 nationally after winning 9 of 10 games this season including an impressive win over Ohio State. In their last performance, they shellacked Indiana and scored 83 points, the most ever for the Badgers in a Big Ten game and most scored in the Big Ten since Woody Hayes' Buckeyes demolished Iowa in 1950.

The Wisconsin offense features the #12 rushing and #8 scoring offense in the nation. Their Red Zone offense is ranked #2 in the Big Ten with 43 TDs in 53 trips. Senior Quarterback Scott Tolzien is the #7 most efficient passer in the nation, and the Badgers lead the Big Ten in 3rd down conversions with 51.4%. Tolzien's favorite target is Senior Tight End and Mackey Semi-Finalist Lance Kendricks; he averages 3 grabs and 47 yards per game and has 4 TDs. The wide receivers are Junior Nick Toon and Senior Isaac Anderson. Redshirt Freshman Jared Abbrederis and Senior David Gilreath will also see action at receiver. Their two running backs are Junior John Clay and Freshman James White. Clay averages 103 yards per game and has scored 13 touchdowns, and White averages 79 yards per game and has 11 TDs. Sophomore Monte Ball may also see more action due to the injury to Clay; he has 9 TDs and averages 57 yards per game. Just about every team has watched film of the Wolverine defense, and one of the most noticable plays used is the screen pass which we haven't stopped anyone very well with so one may expect the Badgers to try more screens to open their running lanes. The Wisconsin offense averages 228 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers also know how to "take care of the football," and have only 7 turnovers in 10 games. As a result of their success on the ground, they are the #2 team in the Big Ten in time of possession behind the Buckeyes. Wisconsin’s starting offensive line averages 6-5 1/2, 320 pounds and the members of the front five have combined to start 125 games in their careers. Three of the five are on major award watch lists. Senior Gabe Carimi is the Left Tackle and Outland Trophy candidate, John Moffitt is the Left Guard and All-Big 10 First Team, Senior Bill Nagy is the Center, Junior Kevin Zietler is the Right Guard, and Sophomore Ricky Wagner is the Right Tackle. If they need extra blocking support, their second Tight End is Junior Jake Byrne and Fullback is Junior Bradie Ewing. Our best chance of stopping their running game is to hose the field and flood it so nobody has any traction.

The Badger defense is ranked #3 in the Big Ten in total defense, and their leader is Defensive End Junior J.J. Watt. He is awful quick and fast for a 292 lbs., and has 18 tackles for loss including 6 sacks and 6 batted down pass attempts along with 7 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, 2 blocked kicks and 2 fumble recoveries. He is a candidate for the Nagurski, Bednarik, Lott and just about every award including 1st team All-American. Taylor Lewan, Mark Huyge and Perry Dorenstein will have their hands full trying to keep him off Robinson. Hopefully, he won't force Robinson into 5 turnovers like Purdue's Kerrigan did Saturday. Junior Louis Nzegwu is the other Defensive End, Junior Patrick Butrym and and Freshman Jordan Kohout are the Defensive Tackles. Senior MIKE Linebacker Culmer St. Jean is their leading tackler along with Senior Floating Linebacker Blake Sorenson. Sophomore Mike Taylor is the B Linebacker. The leader in the secondary is Junior Cornerback Antonio Fenelus; he has 3 interceptions and 5 pass break ups along with 50 tackles. The other cornerback is Senior Niles Brinkley, Strong Safety is Senior Jay Valai and Free Safety is Junior Aaron Henry.

Junior Phillip Welch is an excellent kicker hitting 13 of 17 field goals and 50 of 50 PATs. Junior Brad Nortman doesn't have to punt much, but when he does he has a 43.4 yard average. Senior David Gilreath is the #2 kickoff returner in the Big Ten with a 26.3 yard average, and he also returns punts averaging over 11 yards per return. Gilreath brought the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a TD against the Bucks. Wisconsin is the #3 least penalized team in the nation so don't expect them to make many mistakes.

I don't see us mounting much of a threat against the powerful Badgers with our up tempo offense, and I would predict more turnovers for the Wolverines on Saturday. Wisconsin will pound us, and it will probably take its toll in the 2nd and 3rd quarters like Penn State and Michigan State did so effectively with running the ball. I wish I could be more optimistic! I think the only way we keep this one close is by winning the turnover battle, and converting turnovers into points. I don't see a repeat performance of the offensive explosion against Illinois nor the outstanding defensive performance against Purdue. Wisconsin is on their way to the Rose Bowl!

Michigan 21 Wisconsin 38