It's fourth and goal from the one. The Badgers have stopped us on three consecutive attempts into the end zone. We line up in the Power I and Cousins hands off to Caper, except he doesn't. B.J. Cunningham jogs past the defense and into the back of the end zone where Cousins lofts the ball gently into his hands. The Spartans take the lead 34-24 with 2:45 seconds left to go.
Here's another one
Michigan State marches down the field but they're out of timeouts. They march all the way down to the 23 and get a first down with 11 seconds to go. THe hurricane kick unit comes out and it's gonna be close and HOLY CRAP AND A!!!!!!!!
Timeout? To ice the kicker? It's totally icing the kicker to call timeout instead of making him rush through a field goal. Except that it's not, it's giving him a chance to relax and go through his normal routine.
Noticing a trend yet, if not, allow me to convince you
Bielema is 14-10 on the road and 10-10 in the Big Ten in road games. His record against top 25 road teams is 2-3(to be fair, I'd bet most coaches aren't better on the road). The Big Ten road teams he beats Iowa, Purdue, Minny and one at Michigan. The ones he loses to OSU, PSU, MSU, Michigan, Illinois and Northwestern. So loses to quality opponents, beats easy ones. Check.
Wisconsin's Passing Attack vs MSU Pass Defense
Well, Wisconsin's passing attack is led by Russell Wilson. In case you've been living under a Big Ten rock for the past three or four months, he transferred from NC State after deciding he wanted to play for an actual football team. This season he's been 95 of 128 for 14 TD's and a pick. On top of being the Playstation champion of the Big Ten so far, his pocket presence is amazing. During the Nebraska game, I watched him look in the pass rush, both Defensive Ends got good penetration, he simply stepped about eight inches to the right to avoid the defenders looking downfield and fired a pass 20 yards downfield for a first down. So 74 percent completion rating, 14 to 1 TD-INT ratio and amazing pocket presence. We're probably screwed, I'd guess.
You know, our pass rush isn't too damn bad. You might even say after turning in 16 sacks the last two games, they're pretty damn good. You might even go on to say that there were probably another 5-10 times only the speed of Denard Robinson or Braxton Miller got them away from said sack. Further, Michigan State has eight interceptions on the season, three of which have been returned for touchdowns.
Of course, there is the matter of Will Gholston. He's been beastly in the past two games, maybe even a little too beastly. Simply put, you can't punch a dude, no matter what. I don't expect him to play in this game, nor do I think he should and that sucks.
Advantage: Push(slight lean Wisconsin)
Wisconsin Rushing Attack vs. MSU Run Defense
Wisconsin brings in the seventh ranked rushing offense in the country. The running backs James White and Montee Ball have combined for 25 TDs this season. That's a lot of damn TDs. The rushing game is averaging 29.2 points per game. MSU's total offense is averaging 28 points per game. Their rushing attack is fierce and real.
By contrast MSU's Rushing Defense is averaging giving up 67 yards a carry and has surrendered three touchdowns on the year so far. They have yet to play a rushing offense as strong as Wisconsin's and won't play one again this year. Again, this is a match-up of strength on strength.
Last year MSU held Wisconsin 80 yards below their average on the year for rushing. This year they held Michigan 150 yards below season average, OSU 140 yards below average and even in their loss held ND 80 yards below season average.
MSU Passing Attack vs Wisconsin Pass Defense
Wisconsin brings in the fourth ranked pass defense allowing only 146 yards per game with seven interceptions on the year. They have 14 sacks on the year and are absolutely for real. That's stingy.
Cousins has his work cut out for him this week. Last year he played one of the best games of the season going 20 of 29 for 269, 3 TD's and 2 picks. He will need to play that sort of game this week and probably even better for MSU to have a chance at winning. Keshawn Martin will need to build on the success he had during the Michigan game(maybe even avoid fumbling in the open field). It might even be nice to start working our TE's back into the passing game. Cousins will need lots of receiving options on easy routes to take advantage of this Wisconsin pass defense.
MSU Rushing Attack vs Wisconsin Rush Defense
Wisconsin brings in the 42nd ranked rushing defense which is decent, but not impressive. If you consider their best rushing opponent Nebraska tossed up 159 yards on them that looks impressive, until you realize that's 95 yards below their season average.
On the other hand MSU's rushing attack was pretty anemic until last week. They'll need to play another pitch perfect game to take advantage of the Wisconsin defense. Like Michigan, Wisconsin has looked softer on the edges than in the middle which means expect heavy doses of Baker with a bit of Bell sprinkled in for good measure.
You didn't think I walked through all the Bielema road-fail so that I could pick him in this section did you?
Overall: Wisconsin is heavily favored in this game and they should be on paper. Statistically, they have the upper hand in almost every category. Still Wisconsin has not yet played an away game and the only quality opponent they've played is a Nebraska team that in my opinion is overrated. They look like Tarzan, but they've only played Jane so far. The Evidence says: 38-21 Wisconsin. THe What-If-Bielema-Choke-You-Always-Play-Cupcakes-And-Have-A-Crappy-Career-Road-Record says: 20-17 MSU.
Let's go with the What-If-Bielema-Choke-You-Always-Play-Cupcakes-And-Have-A-Crappy-Career-Road-Record on this one.
Bonus: Ty and I have been invited to attend a meet and greet with the GameDay crew on Friday afternoon. If you have any questions you want us to ask, leave them in the comments and we will demand answers or #OccupyHerbstreit.