Momentum Swingers

After being snake bitten when it comes to creating turnovers, No.6 Wisconsin has created seven in the last two games, turning all of them in to points. Facing a Michigan team with the conference's worst turnover margin, the Badgers' defense know that opportunities will present itself.

MADISON — Saturday, in Ann Arbor, there will be a wonderful clash of contrasts.

Michigan runs a high-powered, big play offense with offensive linemen set in wide splits. They put up points in a hurry with any player in the backfield potentially going the distance on any given play.

Wisconsin lines up behind 320 pounders and shoves the ball in your face, daring opponents to stop what they know is coming. The Badgers protect the football and hardly ever take penalties. Wisconsin halfbacks have lost exactly one fumble this whole season.

And right there, that may have the difference between a win and a loss.

On the season, the Badgers have given away the ball seven times — the top mark in the conference. The Wolverines on the other hand have coughed it up 22 times this season.

So despite a blazing speedster at quarterback in Denard Robinson and an offensive guru in head coach Rich Rodriguez, there will be openings for the Wisconsin defense to halt the Michigan attack.

"When we first had our meetings this week, that is all our coach talked about," UW safety Aaron Henry said of turnovers. "The last couple games we have been very, very fortunate in creating turnovers. That could change the ball game. They have made some mistakes and teams have capitalized on them but I think if we play assignment football we can force them to make more mistakes then they usually do."

In the past four games Michigan has turned the ball over 14 times, including 10 in the last two weeks. Over the past two weekends, the Badgers have ratcheted up the pressure on opposing offenses, forcing seven turnovers in the two games.

The numbers would seem to indicate UW get's a few opportunities at the ball on Saturday.

"What we have to look at it as they only cough the ball up if we make plays," UW linebacker Mike Taylor said. "They might be more prone to it, but unless we make an effort to do that, it won't happen. We have to really make an effort to get that ball out."

For Michigan, half of the turnovers have turned into basic ball security issues.

In the last two games, the Wolverines have lost five fumbles and been fortunate to recover several others.

It will certainly give the Badgers a target for their tackling.

"When they are running in space or whatever, if that ball is out loose, you have to get a helmet on it or swing at it," Taylor said.

"We are tackling a whole lot better when the ball breaks," Henry added. "We are the last line of defense.

"The way Denard is, he is going to force us to make tackles in open space. But if everybody is flying to that football, then we can definitely have a lot of success."

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