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Michigan State (4-4) at Wisconsin (6-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Camp Randall Stadium (80,321) -- Madison, Wisconsin. Television: ABC. Home Record: MSU 2-3, Wisconsin 5-0. Away Record: MSU 2-1, Wisconsin 1-2. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, Wisconsin 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 1-3, Wisconsin 3-1. Series Record: Michigan State leads, 29-22.
GAME NOTES: The Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans are set to renew their wild rivalry, as the two will square off against one another at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison this weekend.
This will be a rematch of last season's inaugural Big Ten Championship game. The Spartans beat Wisconsin in last year's regular-season meeting on a Hail Mary, but the Badgers returned the favor in the Big Ten Championship, winning 42-39 in the waning moments. MSU leads the all-time series, 29-22.
Michigan State sits at .500 and has dropped three of its last four outings. Last week, the Spartans were on the wrong end of a 12-10 final at rival Michigan -- their first to the Wolverines since 2007 -- and they remain two wins shy of bowl eligibility. Following this tilt, they'll return home to face Nebraska and Northwestern.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin is 5-0 at home this season and has won five of its last six games overall. The Badgers were also in action this past weekend as they topped Minnesota, 38-13. Both of their losses on the season came on the road by a margin of three points (Oregon State, Nebraska).
Michigan State's offense has been enigmatic throughout the season. Playing at home two weeks ago, the Spartans put up just 16 points in regulation and two overtimes against Iowa. Last week, they managed only 10 points against Michigan, and it took some trickery to get to those 10 points. Trailing 9-7 late in the fourth quarter, the Spartans executed a fake punt to keep the drive alive and set up Dan Conroy's go-ahead field goal with 5:48 remaining. Prior to that, Andrew Maxwell threw an interception that opened the door for Michigan to take the lead. Credit Michigan's defense, as the Wolverines had not allowed a touchdown in eight quarters until Maxwell's two-yard pass to Paul Lang in the third quarter. The Wolverines also clamped down on running back Le'Veon Bell, who was averaging 131 rushing yards per game but managed only 68 yards on 26 carries.
The top priority last week for MSU's defense was not letting Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson make big plays with his legs. The Spartans were successful on that front in the first half, holding Robinson to only 17 rushing yards on 12 carries. Robinson did, however, find some more running room after halftime and finished with a game-high 96 yards on the ground. The Spartans secondary was strong throughout, as they held Robinson to 163 yards on 14-of-29 passing and also notched an interception. Allen Denicos was all over the field, notching a game-high 11 tackles (eight solo), including three for loss, and a pass breakup. Despite their 4-4 record, the Spartans are fifth in the nation in total defense (277.1 ypg) and are 11th in scoring defense (15.3 ppg).
Wisconsin has picked things up on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 34.2 points over its last five games. Heisman candidate Montee Ball has averaged a healthy 122.8 rushing yards per game on the season and has continued to score at an impressive rate, notching 13 TDs on the year after scoring a record 39 last season. Ball rushed for 247 yards and three scores at Purdue two weeks ago, then finished with 166 yards and two TDs on the ground against Minnesota last week. But he wasn't the main cog against the Golden Gophers, as backfield mate James White carried 15 times for 175 yards and three TDs. That tandem has been deadly of late, with White also rushing for 124 yards and a score against Purdue.
The Badgers intercepted Minnesota freshman quarterback Philip Nelson twice, and the offense turned those picks into 10 points. Aside from the takeaways, Wisconsin was not all that generous on defense. All told, Minnesota managed only 12 first downs and 245 yards of total offense. The Badgers held Minnesota to 1-of-10 on third down, as the Gophers lost the time-of-possession battle by nearly 10 minutes. Senior linebacker Mike Taylor had another monster game, racking up a game-high 12 tackles. On the season, Taylor ranks second in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in tackles, averaging 10.5 stops per game. He is also second in the conference in tackles for loss (10.0). Chris Borland is second on the team with 67 tackles and has notched a team-high 4.5 sacks.
Wisconsin has won 21 in a row at Camp Randall Stadium, the second-longest home winning streak in the nation. The Badgers should be able to make it 22 in a row with another healthy dose of Ball and White.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 34, Michigan State 23
10/24 10:32:54 ET
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