1. No Freebies
The Minnesota defense is putrid in virtually every facet of the game. They have been run on and thrown on with equal effectiveness. Wisconsin's offense should have no problem putting points on the board. Minnesota may be able to run the ball a bit on the Badgers with Amir Pinnix, but the key is to simply not allow any big scoring plays. Barring a slew of fluke scores, the Gophers will have trouble putting up enough points to overcome what their defense figures to allow.
2. Adam Weber vs. Badger Secondary
Weber has thrown for 2500+ yards, but the freshman has been victimized for 17 interceptions. The Badger secondary has finally started creating some turnovers the last couple weeks. Weber should give the Badgers some chances and the Wisconsin secondary must capitalize. I will predict one to the house this week. It bears watching to see if Weber will try to force the ball to Ernie Wheelwright, who probably will be shadowed by Jack Ikegwuonu.
3. A Drink to Our Health
With the Badgers still pretty banged up, depth becomes an issue. I expect Tyler Donovan to start, though the full game status of P.J. Hill is up in the air. However, with limited depth at a number of positions, the Badgers cannot afford any key injuries. If a Matt Shaughnessy for instance were to go down, the Badgers would be seriously hurting at defensive end.
4. Control the Clock
The Badgers are second in the nation in time of possession with over 34 minutes per game. The Gophers rank 101st nationally with just over 28 minutes per game. In a game where the underdog looks to thrive on emotion to overcome talent deficiencies, controlling the clock will serve to control the game.
5. Home Field Advantage
The Badgers are 0-3 on the road since struggling to beat a bad UNLV team in Las Vegas. The Badgers must prove that they can take care of business on the….wait…what could I be thinking….this is Minnesota…this is no road game….nevermind. Seriously though, with rivalry games like this, nothing should be taken for granted. The Gophers are not a good football team, but it still wouldn't surprise me to see a close game. The Badgers have won the last 6 games at Camp Randall, but are 5-6 in the last 11 in Minneapolis.
This is one of those games where the more boring the game is, the better. I expect quite a few points to be scored in the game, but Wisconsin must avoid the gadget plays, home run balls, key turnovers, and so forth. This game is Minnesota's season and if the Badgers let them hang around, don't be stunned if the Gophers make a game of it. In the end though, these Gophers are just not a good team and I expect the Badgers to pull away in the second half. Prediction: Wisconsin 38-Minnesota 24.