Last week the Badgers had a tough time doing some of the easy things. Poor tackling, dropped passes and poor special teams play doomed the Badgers. The Gophers will have nothing to lose and everything to gain as a win for the first time since 2003 in the series would make their thus far pitiful season. If Wisconsin starts coasting, things could get dangerously close, and if they start looking ahead to their season defining stretch against Ohio State and Iowa, things could get ugly.
2. Special Ops
The Michigan State game was the second game the Badgers special teams play was less than stellar. The first time it almost cost them the game. It caught up with Wisconsin in East Lansing as Keshawn Martin returned a punt and the Spartans handed the Badgers their first loss. If Brad Nortman is going to average 37.5 yards per kick in a game, there's no reason an opponent should be able to return a punt period, much less for a touchdown. Something needs to change, whether it's members of the coverage team or Nortman himself. The Gophers have a decent return game, and we shall see if the Badgers can piece together something to help them in their tough stretch ahead.
3. Shake the rust
Nick Toon and David Gilreath didn't look ready in their return last week. Now is the time to get back on track. They will be absolutely necessary against the stout defenses (and especially stout defensive lines) of OSU and Iowa. If they can't (and maybe even if they can), Jared Abbrederis should be one of the go to guys, not a guy who gets one target a game.
4. Who's the back?
John Clay got the majority of the carries in East Lansing, but 17 is hardly the lion's share. Not only that, with his 10 carries, James White managed to gain 18 yards more than the junior. Will Clay regain his 25+ carry status, or will we have a thunder/lightning timeshare? What is best for the team's chances of winning the Big Ten? It's time to get some definitive answers.
5. By the power of Bunyan…
Will the Badgers gain the power? Don't think winning the axe isn't important even though Minnesota is having a down year (even by their standards). Winning emphatically can easily inflate the deflated sails of the Badgers. A 7-1 Big Ten season will, in all likelihood, still result in a BCS bowl and winning a big rivalry game could be just the thing to turn the Badgers' season around. A squeaker does nothing, however, so Wisconsin needs to keep the pressure on for 60 minutes.
The main things that kept Minnesota in last year's game were Eric Decker and the new TCF Stadium. Now that he's gone and the game is in Camp Randall, it shouldn't be nearly as close. Wisconsin should be able to run all over Minnesota's front seven and the Badger defense has the potential to dominate a relatively feeble offense.
Wisconsin 34 Minnesota 13