Zach Baun, linebackers need to play well in order to stop Michigan's Shae Patterson

Outside linebacker Zach Baun has been the most productive linebacker for the Badgers early this year.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Following another dominant performance for Wisconsin, a 61-0 win over Central Michigan followed by a bye week, the Badgers now face their first true test of the 2019 season. 

It will be a revenge game for them with the No. 10 ranked Michigan Wolverines (2-0). Last season, when the Badgers visited Ann Arbor, the Wolverines put on a show at home and gave Wisconsin their second loss of the season in a 38-13 blowout, essentially destroying all hopes for a return to the Big Ten Championship game. \

This year’s game should be different. Both teams have lost key players from a season ago, but have also gained talented freshmen and transfers that have already performed well. Wisconsin’s defense has gotten a lot stronger and healthier, while Michigan’s offense has solidified around senior quarterback Shea Patterson. 

In last year’s matchup, Wisconsin struggled on both sides of the ball, but the key for Michigan was how easily they ran the ball through Wisconsin’s defense. Michigan rushed for 320 yards and three touchdowns. 134 of those yards and two of those touchdowns from their quarterbacks – Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey. 

Wisconsin’s defense will need to shut down the Michigan run game and prevent Patterson from scrambling. Badger linebacker Zack Baun will play a key role in stopping Patterson and the rest of the Wolverines offense, which is why the matchup of the week is Zack Baun vs. Shea Patterson. 

The Wisconsin defense has been on a tear to start the season – they are the only team in the country to not allow a single point thus far, and have added four fumble recoveries, three interceptions and five sacks through two games this season. 

Baun has had an impressive season as well, forcing one fumble and tallying six tackles, including two sacks. A senior linebacker from Brown Deer, Wisconsin, Baun is finally ready to take control of the defense after an inconsistent season last year. 

Likewise, Patterson has enjoyed a strong start to his senior campaign, throwing for 410 yards and three touchdowns. Army put up a fight against Michigan in Week 2 by shutting down their rushers and pressuring Patterson en route to four sacks. 

Baun must be able to help slow down Michigan's rush-heavy offense while providing an adequate pass rush to help out his secondary on passing plays. Baun will additionally need to help cover Michigan’s dependable tight ends that Patterson heavily relies on. There’s a lot on the line for both teams – a loss this early in the season greatly harms each teams chances for the College Football Playoff. 

This game should be close and will likely depend on how well the Badgers defense performs against the Michigan offense, with Baun and Patterson right in the middle of it. 

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