Breakdown & Prediction - Rutgers

BadgerNation breaks down Wisconsin's matchup with Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium Saturday morning, specifically the sudden improvement of Wisconsin's passing game, and offer our prediction.

Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. Rutgers (5-3, 1-3 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, November 1 at 11:01 a.m. CT

Stadium –High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454/FieldTurf)

Television –ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Luginbill)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series –First Meeting

Series Notes

Rutgers and Wisconsin have combined for 271 years of football between the two schools. Rutgers is playing its 145th year of football while Wisconsin is in year 126. The Scarlet Knights have played 1,296 games - the most of any FBS team.

Wisconsin is one of five teams on Rutgers’ 2014 schedule the Scarlet Knights will play for the first time.

Rutgers secondary coach Darrell Wilson coached at Wisconsin from 2000-01. He coached the Badgers’ special teams and outside linebackers.

UW features three players from New Jersey on its roster: senior OLB Sherard Cadogan (Washington Township), sophomore RB Corey Clement (Glassboro) and junior QB Tanner McEvoy (Hillsdale).

Wisconsin Notes

Wisconsin has won 26 consecutive games kicking off at 11 a.m. (CT), dating back to a 20-10 loss to Iowa on Oct. 17, 2009.

The Badgers rank No. 7 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 16.1 points per game, and is also No. 4 in total defense (270.1 ypg) and No. 5 in passing defense (163.4 ypg) — leading the Big Ten in all three categories.

No team in the country is running the ball more proficiently while also holding opponents in check on the ground as well as the Badgers, who are outgaining their opponents by an average of 231.7 yards per game to boast the nation’s largest rushing yardage margin

Wisconsin allowed Maryland into its territory on just two of the Terrapins’ 13 offensive possessions last Saturday (excluding a drive at the end of the first half). The Badgers have allowed opponents to cross midfield on just 32 percent of their possessions this season (30 of 94).

The Badgers have held four of their last six opponents to less than 100 rushing yards, something they’ve accomplished in 8 of 20 games under Dave Aranda and Gary Andersen. UW is 8-0 in those games.

Rutgers Notes

Rutgers has scored in 23 of its 26 trips (88 percent) to the red zone this season. One of the trips where RU did not score in the red zone vs. Tulane was kneeling to end the game. In 2013, Rutgers finished 42-of-55 in the red zone (76.4 percent).

Rutgers is 18-3 when scoring 20 points or more under Kyle Flood and 16-3 when leading after three quarters over the last three seasons.

Since 2000, the Scarlet Knights are 51-18 when going over the 150-yard mark on the ground and 48-15 when holding the opponent below 100 yards rushing in a game.

Twenty-eight of Leonte Carroo’s 39 catches have gone for either a first down or touchdown (72 percent).

Since 2009, Rutgers has led all schools nationally with 41 blocked kicks/punts. During that time span, RU has scored 15 touchdowns via special teams. The Scarlet Knights have blocked at least four kicks every year since 2007.


As somebody who is a fan of college football and watches a lot of other teams, senior tight end Sam Arneson knows two quarterback systems seldom work. For one, he knows how hard is it for the two quarterbacks to maintain a rhythm coming in and out of the lineup, and how hard it can be for the skill position players to get used to two different players with different tendencies.

So when the two quarterback system was brought up at Wisconsin, Arneson had doubts, but didn’t have concerns based on the personalities of junior quarterbacks Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave.

“They are ready to step in, they are ready to go and I think it creates a really dynamic element to our offense having that one-two combo,” said Arneson. “It’s worked well so far. The team is completely behind both guys.”

On paper, Wisconsin’s passing offense is nothing to get super excited about. The Badgers rank 118th out of 125 football bowl subdivision teams in passing yards per game, averaging 151.7 yards per game, and rank slightly better with yards per completion (69th at 11.93 per catch).

Those numbers are a lot better than the beginning of the season, however, and numbers Wisconsin hopes will continue to rise up after defining the roles of its quarterbacks. In the 52-7 win against Maryland, the Stave-and-McEvoy combo threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions.

“It was nice to see the passing game can carry the load and take some pressure off Melvin and Corey,” said junior Alex Erickson, who finished with 121 yards and a touchdown on five catches. “Teams are going to key around them so for us to expose teams in the passing game was nice to see.”

Erickson and Arneson have been the two biggest weapons in the passing game for the Badgers through seven games this season. Erickson leads the team with 32 catches (16 more than any other player) for a team-high 440 yards. Arneson leads the team in yards per catch (15.7 yards per catch) and touchdown catches (three).

While the duo were the leading targets against the Terrapins (combining for seven catches, 144 yards and both touchdowns), the Wisconsin offense saw seven other receivers make at least one catch, one of the most diverse and productive games of the season.

The performance was a stark difference than the beginning of the year, but a performance Erickson had seen coming through practices with a players stepping up in 7-on-7 and team-drill situations and limiting the drops.

“Obviously we’ve had some ups and downs, but we have to stay on this up and keep riding this through this tough stretch and continue to get better,” said Erickson. “We can’t be satisfied, just got to keep working.”

Erickson was on Arneson’s side in terms of being nervous about the two quarterback system. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig doesn’t script when each quarterback will play and sometimes the players don’t know who is in until that player appears alongside him in the huddle.

The two quarterback offense has faltered in some places, but Erickson said point blankly that it worked on Saturday and should continue to succeed going forward because of the trust the receivers have in both quarterbacks, a reason why there never was any outside drama when McEvoy was named the starter.

“That’s just type of character guys we have on this team,” said Erickson. “That wasn’t a thought, I don’t think that’s ever been an issue. We both respect both those guys’ games … It doesn’t matter who is back there. We’ve all got the same juice out there and competing. Whether it’s Joel or Tanner, we’re going to play the same.”

“We’re going to get open and make a play on the ball whether it’s Joel or Tanner throwing it. We believe in both of them so we just do our job because we know they’re going to do their job.”


The test for Wisconsin will be defensively, as Rutgers’ offense under former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen likes to use multiple personnel groups and, according to Andersen, “gets his best players the opportunity to make plays when the opportunity to presents itself.”

That will require Wisconsin to run a similar scheme that they did last weekend against Maryland, keeping things simple and stay gap-assignment sound. Holding the Terrapins’ high-scoring offense off the scoreboard until the final minute, it would appear the Badgers are up to the task now that their defense is back to playing full strength.

Wisconsin is an 11-point favorite this weekend, a generous spread considering Rutgers has played well at home and the Badgers haven’t won a true road game in over 11 months (Nov.23 at Minnesota). A lot of places have taken this game off the books with the uncertainly of who will start under center. Senior quarterback Gary Nova is a game time decision. If he can’t go, redshirt freshman Chris Laviano will get his first career start.

After what we saw last Saturday, I am under the impression Wisconsin has turned a corner, but this weekend will really tell the tale if the Badgers can dominate an opponent they are better then.

Wisconsin 31, Rutgers 17

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 6-1

Against the Spread: 3-3

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