Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Spartan Digest publisher Dave Berk previews Saturday’s match-up between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan State Spartans.

A major road win over Notre Dame last Saturday has Spartan fans excited about what the rest of the season can be. However, the Spartans must not look past a 3-0 Wisconsin squad that has always played them tough.


Who: No. 11/10 Wisconsin (3-0) @ No. 8 Michigan State (2-0)

Where: Spartan Stadium (75,005); East Lansing, Mich. – Natural Grass

When: Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016; 12:00 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, High 52/Low 54. 70% humidity with 10% chance of precipitation

Wisconsin head coach: Paul Chryst (32-22 career, 13-3 at Wisconsin)

2016 record: 3-0 (0-0 Big Ten)

2015 record: 10-3 (6-2 Big Ten)

Last meeting: 2012 – MSU 16, UW 13, OT

Series record: MSU 30-22


Basic Offense

MSU – Multiple

UW – Multiple

Basic Defense

MSU – Multiple 4-3

UW – 3-4

Offensive Starters Returning

MSU – 3

UW – 6

Defensive Starters Returning

MSU – 6

UW – 6

Specialists Returning

MSU – 3

UW - 2


The Badgers were one of the bigger surprises during the first week of the season when they knocked of LSU 16-14.  Then they followed that up by not giving Akron any hope of knocking them off with a home opening 54-10 victory.  However, last weekend saw Georgia State give the Badgers fits with the Panthers holding a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook saved the day with a touchdown midway in the fourth quarter to give the Badgers a three point lead before another drive ended with a 41 yard field goal with just over three minutes left to play gave the Badgers a 23-17 victory.


“Wisconsin is a lot like us in a lot of ways. Big game against LSU. We've had very exciting games with them. We start the Big Ten opener. All kinds of different storylines I think in this football game as we move forward. The games we've had in the past with them have been great games. We've not played them since 2012, the overtime game up there. Had the big games in 2011, two of them, championship game, and also the in-season game, which ended on the rocket play. A lot of history, recent history.

“Both programs have been very successful I think in the last number of years. This will be an outstanding football game.”


Home Field: Weather should not be a factor in keeping the home crowd away from what should be a big time game.  Spartan Stadium and the student section should give the Spartans a major advantage in winning their third game of the season.

Badgers Inexperience: On offense the Badgers have five projected depth chart starters that are sophomores.  If Corey Clement can’t go there is a good chance another sophomore, Taiwan Deal would get the start.  Add in redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook and you can see where inexperience could play a role.  Defense is not as bad as only two sophomores are listed as projected starters.  However, seven of the listed backups are sophomores or younger.

Injuries: The key injury to watch for is senior running back Corey Clement.  If he’s not ready to go the Badgers will suffer a major loss to their offense.


Taking Wisconsin lightly.  The Badgers will come loaded to play hardnosed physical defense just like the Spartans.  So far they give up an average of 13.67 points a game to go with giving up 82.3 yards rushing and 178.67 yards passing a game.  They’ve also only given up three touchdowns so far this season with one rushing and two passing.  The other concern is if the Spartans struggle getting their own running game going.  Many thought LSU standout Leonard Fournette was going to run all over the Badgers and in the end he only ran for only 138 yards on 23 carries.


The play of the Spartans secondary against Badger wide receivers Robert Wheelwright and Jazz Peavy.  The duo has combined for 372 yards on 24 catches (15.5 avg.) and two touchdowns.


The last seven meetings between Wisconsin and Michigan State have seen the games decided by an average of just 4.9 points.  In the past three games fans have seen two fourth-quarter comeback wins and an overtime game.  All three were decided by six points or less.

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