Wisconsin vs Michigan: Wisconsin recovered from a Week 3 home defeat to an underwhelming BYU team with a 2-0 run through the start of its Big Ten slate. On Saturday, the Badgers will face their toughest test of 2018 to date — a Michigan team in desperate need of a big victory.
Wisconsin vs Michigan Live
The Wolverines are only 4-8 against ranked opponents under head coach Jim Harbaugh, but toppling No. 15 Wisconsin in Ann Arbor would be a statement win for a program seeking its first Big Ten title since 2004. Michigan fell short in its first attempt to dispatch a ranked opponent this fall when it fell short against Notre Dame on the road in September. Fortunately for Harbaugh, history will be on his side against UW.
Saturday’s game is a matchup the Wolverines have typically dominated. Michigan is 50-15-1 against Wisconsin all time and has won six of its last seven home games against the Badgers. But Heisman Trophy hopeful Jonathan Taylor has never been to Ann Arbor, and the dynamic tailback could be just what UW needs to fight off history in Week 7.
The Wolverines, somehow, are the No. 5 team in the latest round of the S&P+ rankings. The Badgers clock in at No. 13. The preseason prediction saw this as a three-point loss, but that also ascribes a certain level of stability Harbaugh hasn’t yet proven in Ann Arbor. Taylor gets loose behind some motivated blocking, and Wisconsin wins this one when Rafael Gaglianone gets some sweet redemption with a game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Streaming: WatchESPN, fuboTV
Odds: Michigan is favored by eight points.
Wisconsin vs. Michigan news:
The key to a Michigan win? Jim Harbaugh’s history suggests it’s a steady diet of successful runs.
In the two big games Michigan has won, they’ve thrown the ball less than 45% of the time and averaged three or more yards per carry. The sample size of wins is small, but that’s kind of the point here. The Florida game is really the only time Harbaugh’s Stanford vision has come to pass for the Wolverines, and the Gators were a reeling team that barely showed up.
I want to first focus on the YPC in the losses. Even though sacks skew the running numbers, it is staggering that Michigan has failed to crack three yards per rush in any of those games. They’re 2-0 when they do and 0-9 when they don’t. What this tells me is that the running game, for whatever reason, has constantly failed to show up when the lights get the brightest.
Scott Nelson has emerged as an important piece of the Badger secondary, but he’ll miss the first half of the Michigan game due to a targeting penalty.
The Wolverines’ defense is its headliner, but a talent-heavy offense is beginning to emerge as well.
Wisconsin beat the crap out of Nebraska — just not as soundly as Michigan did.
BYU proved a single destructive force can throw the Badgers off their game plan. In September, it was linebacker Sione Takitaki who made the plays that led a stunning upset at Camp Randall Stadium. On Saturday it could be former No. 1 overall recruit Gary, a gap-stuffing defensive lineman capable of breaking into the backfield with quickness and snuffing out big plays before they can happen. But Gary missed last week’s win over Maryland with a shoulder injury, and while he’s expected to play Saturday, it’s fair to wonder whether a hampered Gary can hold his own against a typically-stacked Badger offensive line.