Scouting Report and Prediction: MSU vs. the Wisconsin Badgers

A look at this week’s opponent…

Let’s get this out of the way.  I love the Badger program.  They do things the right way.  They are good people and they recruit good kids.  This burgeoning rivalry is special because it is two programs that do things the right way and play very similar styles.  Respect is the name of the day.

Coach Bielema is not only a good coach, but also a very good person.  I admire how he recruits against MSU with class and he has a genuine like and admiration for Dantonio and it is reciprocated.

Russell Wilson, their new QB, is an incredible young man.  A friend of mine for over 20 years who happens to work at N.C. State told me when Wilson picked Wisconsin, “In all my years around football, I have never met a finer human being.”   Nothing Wilson has done can dispel those sentiments.

When MSU has the ball…

The Wisconsin defense is certainly talented, but not as good as the past in my opinion.  Having watched all of their games this year they can be attacked, and MSU can beat them.

Earlier this week I had a great conversation with Kirk Cousins.  He has not been himself this year, but certainly hasn’t been bad.  Just not himself.  You can say what you will about Cousins, but his heart is as big as Texas and I can tell you that I had not seen the side of Cousins I saw earlier this week all year.  I sincerely believe based on that conversation and that state of mind that he is poised for his best game of the year.

The Badgers are susceptible up the middle.  Time after time on tape you could see where play action over the middle passing lanes were open.  If Cousins is locked on to one person, that isn’t good.  If he is distributing the ball around, things are fine.  This is a game that the Spartan TEs are a big key.

On the outside, the Badgers can be attacked with the rushing game.  Look for BBC to use the stretch play, followed with some play action and power running to keep the Badgers off balance.

When the Badgers defense has dominated, it is when they make teams one-dimensional.  If they are allowed to dictate tempo, they are very talented and can shut people down.  Sometimes they have dictated tempo when they jump out and take leads, but the key to beating them is keeping it close and staying balanced.  

When MSU is on defense…

Russell Wilson could be the most talented college QB the Spartans have faced in the Dantonio era.  Remember, they have faced Stafford and Ryan among others.  I have heard people all week talking about the Spartans shutting down Showlace, so stopping Wilson should be easy.  WRONG.  They both run, but are nothing alike.

 

Wilson is a pinpoint accurate passer.  He has great discipline in the pocket and at times I think he stays in the pocket too long.  MSU needs to maintain outside contain with the DEs, hold the pocket (he will stay in), and bring that fifth rusher from various places like they have all year.

 

The Badger OL is mammoth.  I love it, but the Spartans are big at the point and their speed (similar to the Miami Hurricanes of old) can nullify it at times.

 

I don’t think MSU gets multiple interceptions, but they can be contained.  Wisconsin is very talented, but so is MSU and the Badgers haven’t faced a team as good as MSU defensively.  In fact, they haven’t faced a top 50 defense all year, let alone a top three.

Intangibles…

There is one big one, but it isn’t the one we thought before the season.  Jerel Worthy’s Tweet about Wilson prior to the year was a big motivator early on for the Badgers.  They took his Tweet and used it.  Worthy, to his credit, has played well and last week against Michigan (who used his tattoo as motivation), he played hard, good, and dominant.  The tattoo is remembered by the Badgers, but Worthy’s play has brought it down from a high place of emotional hype.  He has prove that his walk can match the talk. 

The biggest intangible is William Gholston.  You may remember that last year (in my opinion) the Badgers had the better team.  Mark Dantonio was going to make the Wisconsin game his first game back after his heart attack.  He came, but had to leave.  The Spartans rallied around their Coach and won added by the extra motivation to win this for Coach.

This year one of the most popular and well-liked members of the team is suspended.  They are rallying and using Gholston as the focal point.  FREE WILLIE!  This is a night game, ESPN Gameday, and FREE WILLIE is the rallying cry.  I see the intangibles all in favor of MSU.

Prediction… 

Unlike the yesteryears when MSU had no depth, the loss of Gholston hurts, but it is far from devastating.  Look for Denzel PREDATOR Drone, Taylor Calero, and Corey Freeman to do well.  They are all talented.  They all see this as their chance to excel and show that they belong.  They have pride, they earned a scholarship, and they are ready.

The Badgers are very good.  So are the Spartans.  With all of the intangibles I think the Spartans and Badgers have a hard-hitting battle and the Spartans win this 24-20.