Wisconsin went a perfect 7-0 at home last season and the quest to repeat that feat again will begin against Miami (OH). Although the RedHawks are coming off a 26-7 win over Presbyterian, they haven’t beaten a Big Ten team since 2003, going 0-11 since.
Here are BadgerNation’s five keys to a Wisconsin victory today
1, Getting off to a fast start
It took until the second quarter against Alabama for Wisconsin to register the first points of the season. Wisconsin will need to try and find a way to reverse that to prevent the Redhawks gaining confidence that they can hang around in the game. Of the Redhawks 110 player roster, 62 are either redshirt or true freshmen and 18 of them are listed on the two deep. Due to the youth of Miami, the Wisconsin offense will have a chance to take advantage of a defense that allowed teams to average 31.8 points a game last year.
2, Wisconsin’s air attack
Joel Stave had one of his better games against Alabama and that could continue on Saturday. Allowing 234.3 yards passing last season, the Redhawks only return two players from the secondary. With lack of experience in the back end, Stave will have a chance to get into a rhythm as he goes through his reads to find his intended target. Head coach Paul Chryst should be able to get Stave in a position to succeed and open the offense to allow Stave to take more shots down the field, as Miami (Ohio) could have trouble defending the deep pass.
3, Creating miscues
Wisconsin had trouble creating turnovers (16) a season ago and failed to create any in the opener, despite harping on creating miscues all offseason. Wisconsin will have chances against an offense that lost two fumbles. Creating turnovers could help create a short field for the Badgers’ offense and allow the defense a chance to rest on the sidelines. T.J. Edwards and Leon Jacobs need to swarm and try to strip the football on every play.
4, Making a living in the backfield
Senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert was all over the field against Alabama, leading the defense with four tackles for loss and two sacks. With the Redhawks breaking in three new starters on the offensive line, Schobert and Vince Biegel will have a chance to disrupt any kind of rhythm for first-year starter Drew Kummer can get into. Getting Kummer rattled and make him overthink on pass plays could pay dividends for Wisconsin.
5, Reestablishing the ground game
Wisconsin’s 40 rushing yards in the opener was very un-Wisconsin like. In order to get back on track, UW’s offensive line will need to get the better push against a Redhawks defensive line that returns all four starters. The backs – whether Corey Clement (left groin) plays or not - will need to be patient as the holes open up for them. As the game progresses, if Wisconsin can remain physical, it will have a chance to wear down the Redhawks and bust a long run.
Fearless Prediction: Wisconsin should be able to strike a balance offensively and create some turnovers, two things they did in week one, and dominate an opponent from start to finish. Wisconsin wins its first of the year, 45-17.