Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
We remixed it for this week just a tad
Oh yes, I’m pulling a fast one on you.
You (may have?) noticed that we are doing three key stats instead of three things we want to see. Why, you say? Well, “because I said so” is the lazy answer.
The real answer is because a lot of what we want to see is a rerun of last week — finding another playmaker and keeping as much time of possession as possible. I figured it would be boring reading that again and there are three big stats heading into the game.
So, welcome to the 3-2-1 Preview… REMIX.
3 KEY STATS
That’s yards per pass completion for Wisconsin so far this season, which ranks them 105th in the nation. This stat is my way of saying “make Wisconsin beat you in the air” (SURELY that’s not easier said than done at all). Make Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan beat you with his arm and, well, that’s just MSU’s best shot at a win on Saturday.
You might’ve heard of their starting running back (we’ll get to him later), but he’s arguably decent at football. Coan is…just fine. But he doesn’t throw the ball downfield and really hasn’t much all year. If MSU can get Wisconsin in third and long situations and make Coan make plays with his arm, that’s where the Spartan Dawgs can feast.
Yes, “don’t let Wisconsin’s Heisman candidate beat you” is obvious. I just wanted to point out how obvious it was.
That’s Wisconsin’s defensive line sack rate, which is good for third in the nation. What’s Ohio State’s? Second in the nation. Yeah, the offensive line is going to LOVE this bye week coming up. But until then, they get to deal with another front seven of behemoths on the road.
Not all these stats are supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. This is one of those stats, and it’s going to be even more of a problem after two of its best blocking running backs entered the transfer portal in Connor Heyward and La’Darius Jefferson.
So yeah, it’s not just Wisconsin’s offensive line that’s full of maulers – it’s their defensive line and front seven too.
OH PLEASE YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS. It’s Jonathan Taylor’s insane yards per carry so far this season. And that’s to go with a casual 16 touchdowns, which is the most through five games for a FBS player since Ricky Williams in 1998. Not too shabby.
Taylor and the offensive line are good enough to get four yards with their eyes closed. If Taylor gets to the second level of the defense…watch out.
Now I’ll swoop in late here with some optimism. The last time the Badgers faced a decent run defense in Northwestern, the Wildcats bottled him up for 119 yards on 26 carries (yeah, that’s considered “bottled up” for him) for 4.6 yards per carry. That kept Wisconsin to just one offensive touchdown that day, but since Northwestern has less than zero offense they lost.
2 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE
The same Brian we saw last week
Lewerke had a solid game last week against the Buckeyes, getting rid of the ball quick and throwing away/burying the ball when he had to instead of making a reckless decision. We need to see that out of him again considering Wisconsin’s front seven is monstrous and MSU’s offensive line is…MSU’s offensive line.
I would love to say something like “MSU has to play mistake-free ball!!!” but let’s be honest – mistake-free isn’t happening with this team. Drops are a thing with this team. Stupid penalties are a thing with this team. When it still happens routinely six games into the season, it’s no longer some fluke that’s fixable. Anyway…the last thing MSU needs is Lewerke to pile onto those problems. If he plays as controlled as he did last Saturday, that can put MSU in good standing.
A good third running back
So here we are now with two running backs that have played in serious situations so far this year with Elijah Collins and Anthony Williams. Collins is good, Williams is fine now and will be good down the road. Behind them though? Yikes.
Alante Thomas has a touchdown this season but is undersized. Brandon Wright is a bigger back that coaches seem to like, but he quite literally has zero experience. The first concern in my opinion is pass blocking help. The second one is wondering what happens if Collins or Williams goes down.
I get why both running backs transferred (alright, not so much the one who transferred after lighting his eligibility on fire after playing in a fifth game), but obviously we wish they hadn’t. Now MSU has to see who can fill in key spots halfway through the year.
1 BEST BET
Wisconsin -10.5, Over/under 40.5
MSU is good in bounce back games. So good, in fact, that there is a stat to back this up…
Excluding the 2016 3-9 outlier for Michigan State, last 11 games immediately following a double-digit loss – 10 wins and a FG loss at Nebraska (last year). Spartans typically do not get blown out two weeks in a row. Really interesting game at Wisconsin Saturday.
— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) October 9, 2019
Now are all of those instances in back-to-back top ten road games? No…BUT WHO CARES?!
Sometimes in life you just have a really strong hunch. I’ve got a hunch that MSU wins this game outright. So will I be taking the 10.5 points? UHHH, DOES A MSU WILDCAT ALWAYS GO FOR NEGATIVE YARDS?? (Yes. Yes it does. My answer is yes.) I also like the under too if you want a bonus pick.
Pick: MSU +10.5