Michigan football: 4 things to watch for against Wisconsin

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
1 of 5
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Michigan football travels to Wisconsin on Saturday and here are four things to watch for the Wolverines and Badgers.

Well, here it is.

No. 13 Wisconsin. Jonathan Taylor. Saturday. Camp Randall Stadium.

The Michigan football team opened its season with two unimpressive wins in two games. Here’s its chance to put that in the rearview mirror.

Here’s the Wolverines’ chance to justify all that offseason hype over Josh Gattis’ new offense. Here’s Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Uche, Kwity Paye and company’s chance to show that they can fill the void Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary and Devin Bush left. Here’s Shea Patterson’s chance to firmly state that he’s the quarterback Michigan football fans have spent the better part of a decade waiting for.

From the Wolverines’ perspective, Saturday is as important as a game can get in mid-September. The Badgers have outscored their opponents this season by a combined score of 110-0. They have Taylor, perhaps the country’s best running back, behind a typically Wisconsin-sized offensive line. They haven’t lost to Michigan in Madison in 18 years (granted, that’s only four meetings, but still). Should the Wolverines pull it off Saturday, it’d be a “statement win” to the final ‘N’.

Even before Michigan football stumbled out of the gates, the Badgers, who went 8-5 last season, loomed as the early test that might just make or break the season. Wisconsin wears its identity — methodical, bone-crushing physicality — like it wears its uniforms, and it’s broken down many an unprepared team, especially in Camp Randall. That was the case in 2017, when a youthful Wolverine squad lost to the Badgers, 24-10, the first of three straight losses to end the season.

Can Michigan avoid a similar fate this year and earn what might be its biggest win under Jim Harbaugh? Here’s what to watch for on Saturday: