Five Keys to Victory: Minnesota

Two 8-2 teams with a slim chance of winning their respective Big Ten division would be drama enough, but No.16 Wisconsin being hosted by Minnesota Saturday afternoon brings a level of intrigued to TCF Bank Stadium. Badger Nation gives its Five Keys to Victory.

As usual we begin by reviewing last week's Five Keys. BadgerNation predicted a 46-point victory over Indiana, close enough to the actual 48-point victory to move the BadgerNation to 10-0. The Badgers certainly did want the game more and the rain had no effect on their game.

Meanwhile a 93-yard touchdown on the opening play from scrimmage certainly highlighted the inability of the Indiana secondary to slow down Badger tailbacks. The Badgers did roll in an obvious mismatch.

On to Minnesota

1, Playing to Wisconsin's Defensive Strength

Minnesota is 114th in passing yardage at 149 yards per game, but is a much better running team with an average of 208. Considering the strength of the Badgers defense is in the senior-heavy front seven, the Gophers will find it much more difficult to move the ball than during any of the games in their current four game winning streak. Those opponents (Penn State, Indiana, Nebraska and Northwestern) do not match UW's defense.

2, One More Curve From Aranda

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda continues to vary his game plan. After showing multiple blitzing looks two games ago against BYU, the Badgers defense was much less aggressive against Indiana, relying on a tough man-to-man coverage to nail down the passing game. Expect one more change from Aranda with safety blitzes on key third downs. Key matchup: UW safeties Michael Caputo and Tanner McEvoy vs. Gophers QB Philip Nelson.

3, Keep on Running

There is no need to repeat this. Every defense has tried to force the Badgers to run against stacked defenses, namely running the safeties to the line of scrimmage as the Badgers snap the ball. This is one reason the jet sweeps and end arounds work so well. No doubt with a bye week leading to the Badgers game, the Minnesota coaching staff has had a chance to refine its look, but it shouldn't work. The key will be for the Badgers to remain patient on offense as they have all year. Even if they are a little slow to start they need to stick with the game plan.

4, Screens

Expect screen passes as an alternate look if the Minnesota linebackers get antsy. Key matchup: James White vs. the weak side linebacker.

5, Jacob Pedersen

When quarterback Joel Stave needs an outlet, look for Jacob Pedersen to release his block and get open. Defending against the Badgers is a matter of picking your poison. Stack against the runs and quick releases to the tight end are deadly.

Prediction: This is another in a series of mismatches that greatly favor Wisconsin. UW wins 35-13.

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