Wisconsin lasted one week of being outside the AP top 25, regaining a spot in the national rankings after a 58-0 blasting of Miami University in the Badgers’ home opener. Hoping to stay firmly entrenched in the top 25 for the rest of the season, Wisconsin plays game two of a four game home stand against Troy this afternoon.
Here are BadgerNation’s five keys to a Wisconsin victory over the Trojans in the first meeting between the two schools.
1, Scoring early
Wisconsin was in control throughout its game against Miami but suffered through some struggles early when they had to settle for two early field goals in the red zone. That has to change against Troy. If Wisconsin can consistently get the football inside the Trojans’ 20-yard line, the Badgers will need to come away with points, a must when conference play starts in two weeks. Scoring early and often should help take away any confidence Troy will have early on.
2, Running the football constantlyWith Corey Clement out for a second week in a row, Dare Ogunbowale will have to be ready once again. Wisconsin should have success running the football against a defense giving up 257 yards per game on the ground, which will make it a glaring problem if the struggles on the ground continue for a third straight week. As Wisconsin continues to sort out the right side of its offensive line, this game could prove as an indicator as to what combination works the best.
3, Limiting the big plays
Wisconsin did a much better job against Miami in preventing big plays, as the Redhawks’ longest play came on a 26 -ard pass. The play by Wisconsin’s secondary will have to be stout, as wide receiver Bryan Holmes has proved to be a dangerous deep threat. Over the last three years he has led the Sun Belt with 16 catches of 30 or more yards. Although Holmes went without a catch last week in Troy’s win over Charleston Southern, he did register two catches against NC State of 33 and 37 yards.
4, Creating turnovers
After failing to register a turnover in the opener, Wisconsin did a great job last week by creating four turnovers, including three interceptions. Miscues might be a harder to come by this week considering redshirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Silvers has yet to throw an interception. Silvers consistently makes good decisions with the football, completing 70.5 percent of his passes. UW will need to lean on outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel to consistently find their way into Troy’s backfield to disrupt Silvers’ rhythm, timing and ability to make the safe throw.
5, Nowhere to run
Brandon Burks is averaging 87 of Troy’s 123 rushing yards, but Burks may struggle to get to his average against a Wisconsin that has only allowed a total of seven players to eclipse 100 yards rushing in his three seasons. Burks has been able to show that he is capable of breaking a long run (he has carries of 30 and 57 yards against NC State), so the UW defense that held Miami to minus-3 rushing yards will have to show up.
Fearless Prediction: Troy could give Wisconsin a run for its money, unlike Miami did last week, but the Trojans breaking in three new starters along the offensive line isn’t ideal. Just like last week, Wisconsin should be able to wear down Troy on both sides of the trenches throughout the game. Wisconsin wins 52-10.