First BadgerNation must offer an apology for the least accurate Five Keys yet produced. I had zeroed in on the pass defense and Maryland’s strong group of wide receivers as the No.1 key in a prospective Maryland victory. Instead the Badgers destroyed Maryland and the UW defensive backs played their best game of the year. Had I paid more attention to the No.2 Key (the return of Warren Herring) the preview would have made more sense, as Herring’s defense against the run and added pressure against the pass greatly helped the DBs.
On to our Five Keys over Rutgers.
1, The Rutgers QB Situation
Starting Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova (pictured above) suffered an apparent injury to his knee in the game against Nebraska last Saturday. Nova, though inconsistent, is a potential play maker for Rutgers and a game-tme decision. Head coach Kyle Flood said that redshirt freshman Chris Laviano was taking the first string snaps as late as Thursday during RU’s practice sessions in preparation for this game. Rutgers was already a heavy underdog and needed every break. This situation mitigates heavily in favor of the Badgers.
2, Born to Run
Rutgers surrendered 600+ rushing yards in its last two Big Ten games. Not much more need be said. Melvin Gordon (a legitimate Heisman candidate) and New Jersey natives Corey Clement and Tanner McEvoy will see lots of broken field running opportunities.
3, Dave Aranda’s Squad at 100 percent
This is partly in reference to the return of Herring and Marcus Trotter, but also a nod to how close the unit is to perfecting Aranda’s preferred defensive scheme. The different looks from the multiple defensive fronts can confuse young QBs (see above). More to the point, the younger Badgers players now seem much more comfortable in knowing their assignments. The players also noted that the number of defensive formations had been reduced. All in all a much more comfortable outing.
Third and Six
As in the Badgers are third nationally in rushing yards and sixth nationally in points surrendered per game. So far Rutgers has managed 10, 17 and 24 points in Big Ten losses to Penn State, Ohio State and Nebraska while scoring 26 in its first conference win over a flailing Michigan squad. It is difficult to see how this basic math can lead to a Rutgers victory.
Working through Weather
College football is difficult to predict and today’s weather is wet and windy. Maryland, from the very beginning of the game, seemed to be uninterested in competing in Madison. The psychological factor for this game just might be an early kick off in poor weather. If the visiting team isn’t fully committed to playing in poor weather in an unfamiliar stadium, the home team might just get enough of a boost to pull itself together. We see that as unlikely, though possible.
Badgers blitz an unprepared Rutgers QB (either an immobile veteran or bewildered new comer), causing several turnovers. The UW running game takes it from there on the way to 42-10 victory.