Week 9 - Michigan State at Wisconsin

Posted Oct 26, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction – Michigan State at Wisconsin

Michigan State (4-4) at Wisconsin (6-2) Oct 27, 3:30, ABC

Here's The Deal: LSU and Alabama could've only dreamed to put together two games last year like the classics Michigan State and Wisconsin played. The Spartans shocked the Badgers with a Hail Mary on the final play to win the regular season game, but Russell Wilson got his revenge to win the inaugural Big Ten championship game with a trip to the Rose Bowl. The stakes aren't nearly as high this season, but the potential is there for another decent game that should go down to the wire.

Michigan State has been a stunning disaster with the big problem the passing game, passing game and more passing game. The offense has struggled to move the ball and hasn't had any luck putting points on the board scoring 16 points or fewer in three of the four games, all losses, while the lone win was a fight against a lowly Indiana team. The defense is doing its part by leading the Big Ten in yards and points allowed, but it hasn't been enough. Le'Veon Bell and a good ground game haven't been able to overcome a wildly inefficient passing attack.

Wisconsin doesn't officially have its groove back after blowing past three lightweights – Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota – but it might be just enough to win the depleted Leaders without having to do anything else. The defense is finally getting some support from an offense with a line that's playing like it's supposed to. This isn't anywhere near the juggernaut of the past few seasons, but the results could turn out to be the same. With Ohio State and Penn State irrelevant in the picture, a division title and a third straight Big Ten title are there for the taking.

Why Michigan State Might Win: The Spartans could just as easily be 4-0 in Big Ten action instead of 1-3, while Wisconsin just isn't that great. Finally, the Badgers are going to have to deal with a defensive front that's good enough to stuff their ground game cold. This D won't wear down like Minnesota's or Purdue's, and there won't be the second level run-throughs like there have been for Montee Ball and James White over the last few seasons. The MSU defense is going to force Joel Stave to move the chains, and if the suffocating defense can slow down Jared Abbrederis and his deep plays, the Bucky attack will likely fall very flat very fast.

Why Wisconsin Might Win: You don't get to 1-3 and be this disappointing without screwing a few things up in a big, big way. It's not turnovers, there haven't been any fumbles over the last four games, it's simply a painful lack of effectiveness when it comes time to crank up the big play on either side of the ball. MSU had Iowa and Ohio State dead, and it was able to force Michigan to come up with a clutch kick with all the pressure in the world on. The Spartan run defense might be terrific, but all three touchdown runs allowed came in losses, and so far this season MSU is 0-4 when allowing more than 100 yards and 4-0 when keeping teams to fewer. The Sparty defense might be incredible, but Wisconsin should pass the 100-yard mark without breathing hard.

What To Watch Out For: The spotlight will be on Montee Ball and Le'Veon Bell, two of the nation's best backs and the respective water carriers for each of their teams. Ball has taken to the improved blocking to get back on track with three 100-yard games in a row and with 13 touchdowns on the season, but he doesn't have to do it alone with White proving to be quicker and more effective at times. Meanwhile, Bell has been hit or miss with two, 200-yard games and 984 yards on the season. Both Ball and Bell will blast away, but in the end it'll come down to who gets the better quarterback play.

What Will Happen: Wisconsin will have a fight on its hands, but it'll hang around, hang around, hang around, and then bam – that's when the big play deep to Abbrederis will loosen things up. Bucky fans will be able to breathe easier after the third quarter, but Andrew Maxwell will throw the Spartans into the game. It won't be enough.

CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 24 … Michigan State 16
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Wisconsin -6.5 O/U: 40.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 4