When the (6-2, 10-2) 15th ranked Wisconsin Badgers meet the (7-1, 10-2) 13th ranked Michigan State Spartans in the inaugural Big 10 Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the Badgers will be looking for more than just the Stagg Championship Trophy, but a chance at redemption.
In a game that was an instant classic, the Badgers would lose to the Spartans 37-31 on a 44-yard last-second Hail Mary pass from Michigan State quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
That heart-breaking loss for the Badgers would seemingly send Wisconsin into a season-ending tail spin as they would go on to lose—on another last-second Hail Mary—to the un-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 33-29.
After that loss, Wisconsin would right themselves by win their last four straight games by a combined score of 177-54. The Badgers would average 44.2 points in their for wins while only allowing 13.5 points per game.
Wisconsin comes into the Big 10 title game with the fourth best offense in the FBS by scoring an average of 44.8 points per game while giving up the fourth fewest points per game at 15.2
The Badgers are led by former North Carolina State transfer quarterback, Russell Wilson, Wilson who was a early Heisman Trophy candidate prior to the Michigan State game has given the Badgers a dual threat at quarterback that has never before been since at Madison.
Wilson has completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 2,692 yards and thrown 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Wilson has also rushed for 325 yards on 66 carries.
Against Michigan State, Wilson would be held to 223 yards passing and 30 yards rushing in the Badgers loss to the Spartans. Wilson would throw two touchdowns, rush for another and throw two interceptions.
Badgers running back, Montee Ball—who current leads all FBS running backs in rushing touchdowns with 29—would rush for 115 yards and score two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.
If the Badgers are going to defeat Michigan State and advance to the Rose Bowl to face Pac-12 champion Oregon, they must find a way to establish the run with Ball and get Wilson out on the perimeter against the Spartan’s relentless pass rush.
Ball who currently has 1,622 yards rushing and 248 yards receiving may be used more out of the backfield in a attempt to keep Michigan State’s defense honest.
For Michigan State, they have a extra chip of motivation on their shoulders, after being passed over for the Rose Bowl in 2010 for the Capital One Bowl, while both Wisconsin and Ohio State would receive BCS bowl bids, despite earning a share of the Big 10 title and defeating Wisconsin head-to-head.
Spartans quarterback, Kirk Cousins, the hero of that “Hail Mary” game has passed for 2,735 yards and 21 touchdowns, may not have the Heisman Trophy fanfare of Wilson nor a running back of the caliber of Ball—in Le’Veon Bell—but if there is one advantage that Cousins will exploit is that of a suspect Badgers secondary with senior Spartans wide receiver, B.J. Cunningham.
The 6’2 215-pound Cunningham leads the Spartans in receiving with 1,125 yards receiving and 67 receptions. Cunningham has also caught nine touchdown passes and averaged 16.8 yards per catch.
Against Wisconsin, Cunningham would have six catches for 102 yards and one touchdown.
If the Spartans hope to defeat the Badgers for a second time, they must find a way to get Cunningham involved early and establish Bell on the ground late.
Whichever team establishes an offensive identity first will win, with a chance for redemption and a Rose Bowl berth on the line, look for the Badgers to get their revenge Saturday night.
Prediction : Wisconsin 34 Michigan State 24
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