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Friday, May 24, 2024
Photos: The B1G Championship

The Wisconsin-Michigan State game figures to feature quite a bit of drama, as both chase playoff aspirations.

Michigan State looks to get defense back on track against Badgers

With the Wisconsin Badgers’ dominant performance over the Kent State Golden Flashes, an interesting dynamic is created going into their next match against the Michigan State Spartans, who have exhibited uncharacteristically shaky defense. 

For the past two seasons, Michigan State’s defense has been strong under head coach Mark Dantonio, but their past two games have shown unstable performances against the Indiana Hoosiers and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Against Indiana, the Spartans gave up 31 points, the second-most since their 2018 season-opener against Utah State. The following weekend, the Buckeyes dominated Michigan State collecting 529 yards.

The Spartans’ defense, led by linebacker Joe Bachie and cornerback Josiah Scott, have been top-10 worthy at the beginning of the season, as they held Tulsa to negative 73 rushing yards, Western Michigan to 67 yards rushing on 27 carries, Arizona State to less than 150 yards before Jayden Daniels’ final-drive and a strong performance over Northwestern in their first conference matchup. 

With that being said, this past Saturday, the Spartans started strong in the first quarter with in their front four, only allowing 16 total yards. But, when the second quarter hit they gave up three touchdowns and 296 yards to Ohio State. 

Nonetheless, Michigan State’s defense did display it’s skill with cornerback Josiah Scott leading the team Saturday with a career-high 12 tackles and an interception, linebacker Joe Bachie with 11 tackles, three for a loss and 2 sacks, and safety Xavier Henderson with five stops and a pass break-up.

But, before these two games that knocked Michigan State’s defense, they dominated Northwestern. Bachie had a career-high 14 tackles and an interception in the fourth quarter, and Scott performed an impressive interception of his own. MSU’s defense kept Northwestern out of the endzone all game. 

Interestingly, when the Badgers played Northwestern, their offense was shaky in their own right. They pulled out to a quick 7-0 lead with a 13-yard run touchdown by running back Jonathan Taylor. But, they had the ball six more times in the first half and only had 84 yards. 

Wisconsin’s offense finished the game against Northwestern with 243 yards on 60 plays--about four yards-per-play. But, the defensive line bailed them out to win the game 15-24. 

Wisconsin came back strong once again this past weekend against Kent State, though, with the starting offense scoring touchdowns on all six drives it played. 

Taylor had a career-high five touchdowns, and finished with 186 rushing yards on 19 carries and 29 yards on three catches. Quarterback Jack Coan successfully used play-action fakes and went 12 of 15 for 134 yards and two touchdowns, hitting 80 percent of his passes. 

As Ohio State was able to run the ball on Michigan State, it will be interesting to see if Wisconsin’s offense with Taylor will do the same.

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If Michigan State is able to get their defense back on track the Badgers will have to prepare themselves for a matchup very different than the one they just faced against Kent State. It will be a battle until the very end of the game. 

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