Michigan State looks to play spoiler as Badgers continue to dominate foes
Michigan State looks to play spoilers as they travel to Madison for homecoming weekend.Image By: Shoaib Altaf
Michigan State has had a very up and down season to this point. They started off the season with two dominant performances against Tulsa and Western Michigan, combing for 79 points, boosting their ranking to No. 18.
Week three however, was not as successful. They lost a defensive battle against unranked Arizona State 10-7 and dropped out of the AP Top 25.
They were able to pick back up their early season form and win convincingly against Northwestern and Indiana, combining for 71 points in weeks four and five. After those two impressive offensive performances the Spartans were able to move back into the top 25 at No. 25.
Last week the Spartans played another conference rival in then No. 4 Ohio State. They managed to keep it competitive but ultimately weren’t able to win.
Sparty got off to a bad start with two consecutive fumbles on the first two drives. The defense actually did an impressive job keeping the Spartans in the game against the explosive Buckeye offense despite the two early turnovers. As the game progressed the Spartans were never quite able to get the offense rhythm that Ohio State developed, and eventually the Spartans defense broke down, leading to an Ohio State blowout.
The Spartan defense is led by two seniors; Defensive end Kenny Willekes, who leads the team with four sacks, and linebacker Joe Bachie who leads with 57 tackles. The unit has had its moments where they seem like a top defense (i.e. the start of the Ohio State game.)
They are very strong at getting takeaways with 7 interceptions and 5 fumbles already on the year and only give up about 100 rushing yards-per-game and 200 passing. Their biggest problem has been maintaining that level throughout an entire game, as they often end up giving up more points in the second half.
Due to the high number of takeaways the defense gets, the offense has had a lot of time on the field. Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke leads the Big Ten in passing attempts, completions, and passing yards because of all the added time. Additionally, running back redshirt freshman Elijah Collins is fourth in both rushing attempts and rushing yards in the Big Ten. Despite having leaders in two important categories, the team as a whole finds themselves in tenth place in scoring in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin will want to come into this game being careful with the ball on offense as the Spartans have gotten many opportunities from other teams through turnovers. Another thing the Badgers will want to do is develop a strong passing game, as Michigan State has given up a lot more passing yards than rushing, and Michigan State will be expecting the Badgers to run with heisman hopeful Johnathon Taylor in the backfield.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter