Week 13 – Wisconsin at Penn State

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Wisconsin at Penn State

Wisconsin (7-4) at Penn State (7-4) Nov. 24, 3:30, ESPN2

Here's The Deal: Really, Wisconsin, can't you at least act the part of the Leaders division representative in the Big Ten championship?

It's Ohio State that's getting some trophy signifying its finishing on top of the division, but it's Bucky who's playing either Nebraska or Michigan next week for the right to go to the Rose Bowl. This might have been a rocky year so far, with two overtime losses in the last three weeks, but a win in Indianapolis will mean a third straight Rose Bowl appearance. But first, the Badgers have to get used to the bowl-like atmosphere against a Penn State team that knows a little something about rocky times.

This is it. With little national excitement and less fanfare, this is the last game in the first season of the rest of Penn State life. With losses to Ohio State and Nebraska over the last month, there's a chance the Nittany Lions can firmly cement themselves as the third-best team in the conference, but first they have to close out on a high note against a Badger team that applied an atomic wedgie in the Leaders-deciding game with a 45-7 pasting. This is merely an exhibition game for the Badgers, as they try to rest up a wee bit and prepare for the game that actually matters next week, but Penn State is going to be in for an emotional ride.

Why Wisconsin Might Win: Blast, blast, blast away. The Penn State defensive front has been able to lock down over the course of the season against decent running games, but it couldn't handle Nebraska or Ohio State, who combined for 401 yards and five scores. Those two have running quarterbacks who were able to tear off a few big plays, but the Badgers should be able to run without a problem when James White lines up in the Wildcat formation or when Montee Ball is grinding out drives. The Wisconsin running game is working again, and it should be effective throughout.

Why Penn State Might Win: The Wisconsin offensive line can't seem to pass protect a lick and now starting right tackle Rob Havenstein could be out with a minor knee injury. He and the rest of the line weren't even close to stopping John Simon and a Ohio State pass rush that spent a good portion of last week sitting on quarterback Curt Phillips' head. A few weeks earlier, Michigan State, who hasn't done much of anything all year to get to the quarterback, destroyed the UW passing game with five sacks. Penn State's defensive front has been outstanding at getting behind the line lately with five sacks against Indiana and 31 on the year.

What To Watch Out For: Two of the nation's best linebackers won't be able to show what they can do. Wisconsin's Chris Borland is expected to miss a second straight game with a hamstring injury, but the hope is that a bit more rest will be enough to make him be ready for the Big Ten title game. On the other side, Michael Mauti's injury-plagued career is ending on the sidelines after suffering an ugly knee injury against the Hoosiers. The controversial team leader and main spokesman for the players during the aftermath of the Freeh report and the NCAA sanctions this summer will get his chance to be honored on Senior Day, but the linebacking corps will have to find a way to pick up the slack with the loss of the team's leading tackler.

What Will Happen: This might be Penn State's bowl game, and it should come out ready to finish things up by playing at another level, but the mediocre running attack won't be able to do enough against the stout Badger defensive front that's doing a tremendous job against the run. Matt McGloin will have a few nice moments, but like last year, this will once again be about the Badger running game that will grind away a tough win to start to get a little bit of its groove back on the way to the championship showdown.

CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 31 … Penn State 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Penn State -3 O/U: 45
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 4