Got your hotel and tickets for the Big Ten Championship game yet? What seems like an annual gathering of Badgers fans in Indianapolis is back on, as Iowa took care of the Nebraska Cornhuskers yesterday and clinched a UW berth in the title game.
However, that was yesterday and today is the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. All that is at stake is a 12-game winning streak in the series against the Goofs, something called the College Football Playoff and three straight classes who have never lost to Minnesota.
You can bet there’s plenty for the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers to play for. Something about a Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff. That’s to say nothing of extending a 12-game winning streak in this series and being the team to even up the all-time series between these two schools.
Can the Badgers take advantage of what is in front of them and make a CFB Playoff appearance? It starts with winning on Saturday.
Goofs Team Stats:
(stat – Big Ten rank – national rank)
Scoring: 31.5 ppg — 4th — t-51st
Passing: 179.1 ypg — 11th — 107th
Rushing: 191.7 ypg — 5th — 48th
Total: 370.8 ypg — 11th — 100th
Scoring: 22.2 ppg — t-5th — t-27th
Passing: 235.1 ypg — 13th — 73rd
Rushing: 116.6 ypg — 3rd — 15th
Total: 351.7 ypg — 6th — 2th
Wisconsin Team Stats:
Scoring: 28.3 ppg — 5th — t-68th
Passing: 182.1 ypg — 9th — 103rd
Rushing: 200.7 ypg — 3rd — 44th
Total: 382.8 ypg — 9th — 90th
Scoring: 13.4 ppg — 3rd — 5th
Passing: 194.3 ypg — 5th — 25th
Rushing: 98.2 ypg — 1st — 5th
Total: 292.5 ypg — 3rd — 8th
2 Stats to Remember:
— 233.3: That is the average of Wisconsin’s run game over the last six weeks. Prior to that the Badgers rushing game languished near the bottom of the Big Ten, but thanks to that effort, UW is up to over 200 yards per game rushing as a team and are third in the conference. It has helped that running back Corey Clement has averaged 120.2 yards per game during that six-game streak.
— 75: That is the number of penalties the Gophers have committed this season. It’s a total that ranks them last in the Big Ten and 75th nationally. In a rivalry game, penalties and the consequences for them can have a major effect. It doesn’t help the Goofs case that Wisconsin has committed just 36 total penalties which is first in the B1G and second nationally.
3 Keys To Badgers Victory:
Get Play-Action Passing Game Going Early: If you don’t believe the Wisconsin Badgers are going to come out and try to establish the run early, then you haven’t been paying attention to this team all season long. However, we’d love to see Alex Hornibrook establish himself as a threat early as well. That means calling some play-action in the first series or two and hitting those plays to help back off the defense. Without it, it could be some tough running against a very good Goofs rushing defense.
Don’t Rest on Your Laurels: It is going to be important that the Badgers are the ones punching the Goofs in the mouth first on Saturday. With a division title in the bag, Wisconsin’s players need to stay focused on some bigger goals in front of them. None bigger than a 13-game win streak and a tied series with the Gophers (who lead 59-58-8). Oh, and some thing called the College Football Playoff being in reach. What the Badgers can’t do is just think this game is in the bag. Luckily UW isn’t taking on Purdue or Illinois here, and the battle for the Axe should help. Still, a slow start or Minnesota getting a lead could be dangerous to all that is there for the taking for Wisconsin.
Win Third Down: This has been a hallmark of UW’s success so far this season. When they are rocking on third down conversions and stuffing opponents in the same situation it usually equals victory. UW is allowing opponents to convert on just 27.1 percent of their third down plays, which is third in the nation and second only to Michigan in the Big Ten. Meanwhile on offense, the Badgers are converting on 43.8 percent of their third down possessions, which is top 50 nationally and No 4 in the B1G. Minnesota’s defense has been rather porous in those situations, allowing opponents to convert on nearly 40 percent of their third down situations and that is ninth in the Big Ten.
Andy: Wisconsin 28-10
Wisconsin’s defense is far superior, it’s run game has finally come alive and the offensive line seems to have found its footing in the pass game just when it needs to. It all adds up to a team that is clicking on all cylinders against an opponent largely stuck in neutral — especially on offense — and that means victory No. 13 in a row for the Badgers in this series. It also means College Football Playoff hopes remain alive and well.