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Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Wisconsin Badgers: Preview, predictions and prognostications

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When: Sat., October 31; 12:00P.M. ET
Where: Madison, WI; Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
TV: BTN
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Wisconsin win, 37-0
Line: -20.5 Wisconsin

It’s only the second meeting between the two, and both teams are on separate trajectories. The Badgers still hold hope that they can make it to Indianapolis as the West division champion, while Rutgers is dealing with issues on and off the field with smoke abounding about an academic scandal, and things not going so well on Saturday’s either.

Paul Chryst should probably get more media attention for what he’s done in a season littered with injuries, but he just keeps pressing on with his team behind more air miles than usual in MadTown, and a solid and sometimes suffocating defense. There was the scare last week with the head injury to quarterback Joel Stave, but all systems appear to be go for the game at 11AM local time.

1 Burning Question:  Can the Badgers Keep Pace?

Iowa has a distinct advantage in the race to get to Indianapolis, but Wisconsin is still circling the runway looking for clearance. It can ill-afford to drop another game because the Hawkeyes own the tie-break if both finish with one-loss in the conference thanks to the head-to-head win in Madison. Rutgers has been able to score on almost anyone not named Ohio State, and you’d expect a defense the caliber of Wisconsin to also pose a the same type of challenge for Kyle Flood’s crew. Wisconsin needs the win to hold out hope for ideas of grandeur, while the Scarlet Knights are still hopeful of the slim chances of a bowl-invite.

2 Key Stats:

11.1; That’s how many points the Badgers are giving up per game. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has been a star since coming to Madison, and he’s done it with a group effort, and scheme that relies on deception and movement. Quarterbacks have a hard time reading when and where blitzes are coming from, and assignments are rarely missed on the back-end. Rutgers is tasked with trying to crack the code once both teams step off the bus.

11; The number of sacks the Rutgers defense has racked up this year. That’s good for a whopping 98th in the country and a big reason why the Scarlet Knights have given up a ton of yards through the air this year. Joel Stave has had more than modest success throwing the ball this year, and if Rutgers can’t muster any pressure to make him a bit uncomfortable in his skin, it could be a long day.

3 Key Players:

Joel Stave, Wisconsin QB– Stave suffered a head injury last week and had to sit out the remainder of the game, but word out of Madison is that he’s ready to go in this one. He’s been a different passer this year than his previous efforts, and his team has needed it with all the injuries that are piling up. He’s going against a defense giving up over 310 yards per game through the air, so he should be able to move the chains and make plays.

Leonte Carroo, Rutgers WR- Carroo is perhaps the most talented wide-receiver in the league, and he’d be a key guy no matter what the situation. However, in this one he is listed as questionable and will likely be a game time decision. If he plays, and is healthy enough to be close to his explosive self, Rutgers will have an opportunity to make some big plays through the air. If he’s sidelined, it’ll be an easier day at the office for a stout Badger defense.

Kiy Hester, Rutgers SS- The Badgers are more balanced between the run and pass this year than in past seasons, so it’s not as easy on the defense to just key in on the rushing attack and make Steve beat you with his arm, because he actually has this year. To that end, the safety position is going to be huge. Whether it’s coming up in run support, or cleaning things up on the back-end against the pass, Hester needs to show his physical style on both ends. He needs to make the right reads and come up to support the run, yet be the safety valve at times when the Badgers take to the air.

 

4 Bold Prognostications:

— Joel Stave will throw for under 2oo yards: You’d think that Stave would be licking his chops going against a secondary that can be had, but remember he had a head injury last week and these things are worth a conservative approach. Look for the coaching staff to get him some work, but get him out of there if things get out of hand.

— The Badger defense will not allow a touchdown: The defense has been light’s out this year in Madison, and without Carroo, or with him in the lineup but banged up, the Scarlet Knights will be a one-dimensional team without much of a game-breaking option down the field. Wisconsin has one-dimensional teams for dinner … or for brunch in this case.

— Bart Houston will come on again and throw for a couple of scores:The coaching staff will take it easy with Stave to make sure his head isn’t a recurring issue, and Houston will come on and get a chance to carve up the Scarlet Knight secondary once things are comfortable. He’ll play well and have a couple of TDs through the air.

— The Badger defense will not allow a touchdown: Not wanting to risk reading the multiple fronts and blitzes that Wisconsin will bring, the Rutgers coaching staff will try and establish things on the ground and try to limit mistakes. Schobert will take advantage and get on in more than a few stops.

5 Staff Predictions:

Andy: Wisconsin 38-3 (65-15 overall; 35-44 ATS)
Dave: Wisconsin 34-21 (65-15 overall; 43-35 ATS)
Greg: Wisconsin 31-10 (59-21 overall; 44-34 ATS)
Matt: Wisconsin 34-24 (64-16 overall; 48-30 ATS)
Phil: Wisconsin 32-20 (19-8 overall; 9-15 ATS) *joined in Week 5

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What the Badgers need to work on in the bye week

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Two games, two victories, two shutouts and two record-setting performance. It would be easy to think the 2-0 Wisconsin Badgers football team is riding high in to its early bye week.

But, with the challenge of the Michigan Wolverines just around the corner things are not exactly going to go as planned.

So, with a week off to prepare what are some of the areas of concentration and concern heading in to the matchup with the Wolverines?

Get Healthy

I feel like this is a mantra of any team on a bye week, but after only two games it shouldn’t be that bad. But, guess what, Wisconsin is two games in to the season and the injury gods have not been kind to this team.

On Sunday, we learned that starting safety Scott Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.

Late last week we knew that five other players were going to miss the Central Michigan game, with two of those being starters on defense in Bryson Williams and Izayah Green-May.

Now luckily, the depth of this team showed up as true freshman Keeanu Benton (1 TFL) played well in place of Williams and Noah Burks (2 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 pass break up) made it seem like there was nothing missing at outside linebacker.

But, there’s no question that playing with a full group of players against Michigan will be advantageous. Let’s see if the Badgers can get Williams and Green-May healthy and my guess is that they will be able to do just that with nearly three weeks of treatment and testing.

Stay Hungry

One of the things that has been clear so far about this team is that they have been playing with a lot of emotion and edge to them. It’s almost as if they spent an entire offseason stewing over a less-than-stellar performance in 2018 and are bound and determined to not let that happen again.

Whatever was bottled up in the offseason was certainly unleashed in the first two weeks of the season. Can UW find a way to continue to play with that edge and fire now that they have no game this week?

Sometimes the bye week can mess with a team, especially one that is rolling like the Badgers are. But, I have a distinct feeling that motivation and focus are not going to waver at all with this coaching staff in place.

Wisconsin also has the advantage of being the underdog in the matchup with Michigan (at least on paper it will) and has a ton of hungry young players looking to make a name for themselves.

What better way to do that than against Michigan with the whole college football world watching you?

This idea of staying hungry doesn’t worry me in the least, but it would be something to watch coming out of the gate against Michigan. If the Badgers look flat or out of sorts, I’d be worried. If not, then look for Michigan to be in some serious trouble on Sept. 21.

New Wrinkles?

Early on this season, we’ve already seen a lot of Jonathan Taylor the running back, but we’ve also seen a lot of JT23 the receiving back and it has produced glorious results.

Even better is the fact that the Badgers coaching staff hasn’t had to get exotic with the play calling early on this season either. There’s been few sightings of Aron Cruickshank end arounds or double running back sets or anything crazy.

Wisconsin has lined up, punched the opposing defense in the mouth up front and done the basics needed to put points on the board.

It will be interesting to see what wrinkles will be added with the extra time and the opponent at hand. Will the Badgers break out a few things that Michigan won’t be ready for or will they stick to the tried and true and just see what happens?

Pass Protection

If there’s one thing we know about Michigan’s defense is that it is nearly the Badgers equal in aggressiveness. Through two games the Badgers have allowed four sacks on the quarterback.

It may not seem alarming, but last season, UW allowed a total of 24 through 13 games for an average of 1.85 per game and that was a bit of a problem in bigger games. Furthermore, 12 of the 24 sacks came in Wisconsin’s five losses last year.

The good news seems to be that UW is going to get some help for the quarterback spot in avoiding some of those sacks this year. Jack Coan may not be a world-record sprinter, but he has shown to be more comfortable stepping up in the pocket and taking off if needed.

But, the Badgers were not really tested so far in terms of overall talent and did give up three sacks against USF in the opener. On the flip side, the offensive line looked much better against CMU and only one sack happened on the day.

Does that indicate improvement or just how bad the Chippewas were? With an extra week to work on things, lets see how the Badgers offensive line works through any potential issues and any adjustments that may be needed.

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Sunday Morning Hangover: What to make of Coan’s confident start

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By now, Jack Coan isn’t a total newcomer to the starting quarterback role for the Wisconsin Badgers. But, on Saturday he was making his first career start inside Camp Randall Stadium.

All five of his previous starts would come on the road or in a bowl game.

So, how did Coan handle the home crowd and it being a season opener at Camp Randall nonetheless? Judging by his record-setting numbers it was safe to say it was home, sweet home for the junior quarterback.

After passing for over 200 yards for the first time in his career last week against USF, Coan set personal records for passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes in a single game.

It’s hard to get much better than that.

On the day, Coan would go 26 of 33 for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers were the catalyst to the Badgers 61-0 blanking of the visiting Central Michigan Chippewas.

His 363 yards were the fifth best in a single game by any Badgers quarterback. Coan also became just the 11th Badgers QB to throw for 300 or more yards in a game.

Additionally, his 276 yards in the first half were the most ever by any Badgers quarterback in a single half.

That’s some historic territory for anyone to reach.

However, after sleeping on it, I am still left wondering if this is a sign of things to come or a blip on the radar and we’ll never see this again.

Maybe it’s because I can still remember being there in person to witness Coan fumble and bumble his way to a loss at Northwestern last year.

Maybe that’s the Hornibrook affect in me too? After all, we got totally burned by thinking Hornibrook had turned a corner with his great performance in the bowl win over Miami two years ago.

Instead, Hornibrook reverted right back to the inconsistent and at times terrible version that his more extensive body of work told us was likely who he was.

But, here’s why I think we aren’t seeing a blip on the radar with Coan. It’s his confidence and the fact that we’ve seen him go out and do better each and every week he’s been a starter.

We are seeing progress, which we never really did with Hornibrook under center. If you can’t see that Coan is improving, then you aren’t paying attention.

Last week, despite the first ever 200-yard day for Coan, a lot of attention was paid to the missed wide open receivers on vertical routes. What did Coan do about it? He went out this week and showed he could confidently and accurately hit those deep balls.

“I think it’s important, and certainly we’ve got to be able to — we thought coming into the year we’ve got to do a better job of attacking the whole field, and so when you can do that, it’s good, but I think guys have had confidence in it,” said head coach Paul Chryst after the CMU win.

“I know last week we were 0-2 for those “chunk” plays, but he wouldn’t have cut ’em loose today if he didn’t have confidence in it. So I don’t know that doing it in a game makes you more confident, but it was good to see. It’s nice to be able to hit a couple of those, obviously.”

Additionally, Coan’s relationship early on this season with Quintez Cephus has been something special to watch. With virtually no playing time and no extensive practice time together, the duo has seemed totally in sync to start the season.

Cephus has nine receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns through two games. He also is averaging 84.5 yards per game, good for fifth in the Big Ten in this early season.

Just to put the difference between Coan and Honribrook in to some perspective for you. Through two games last year, the Badgers had just 26 receptions as a team. This year, UW already has 50.

Wisconsin also has a total of 16 passes for 15 or more yards on the season. That is a quarter of what the Badgers had (64) all of last year and we’re only two games in to the season.

A.J. Taylor (8), Danny Davis (6), Kendric Pryor (6) and Jake Ferguson (6) have all had major impacts in the pass game too.

It means a diverse and talented group is producing quickly this season.

Of course, the challenge of Michigan’s defense awaits the Badgers offense and it certainly will be a step up in competition from the likes of USF and Central Michigan.

However, the Wolverines also won’t be seeing the same old Wisconsin offense they did for the past few years either.

What Coan has brought to the table through two weeks of play should make Michigan think twice about stacking the box against the run all game long.

Wisconsin finally has an outwardly confident quarterback and it feels so very good.

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WATCH: Recap of Badgers 61-0 victory over Central Michigan

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If you were to draw up a perfect game, well, it would be hard to top what the Wisconsin Badgers put on film on Saturday against the Central Michigan Chippewas.

UW ran, passed and dominated on defense en route to a 61-0 win. What should we take away from this game? What were the highlight moments?

Well of course, Jonathan Taylor scoring four touchdowns in back-to-back games was impressive. But, let our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, get in to the detail in this week’s talkinBadgers recap.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube page, so you don’t miss any of our video work as the season goes on!

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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Central Michigan Chippewas: Preview, Predictions and Prognostications

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We’re back with more in our video work for the Badgers 2019 season. As per usual, our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, is here to give you the lowdown on the matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Central Michigan Chippewas.

That means, key players to watch, key stats to keep an eye on and the weekly prediction.

He is 1-0 after nearly nailing the full score last week, so what does this matchup look like?

Let’s get in to the video.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss a single prediction or post-game reaction for your pleasure.

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