Michigan Football: 5 things to know about Wisconsin

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

Wisconsin struggles scoring in the red zone

In three games this season, Wisconsin has made 13 trips to the red zone. It has converted just eight of its trips into points and only five for touchdowns. The Badgers rank 126th in the country in red-zone offense.

Wisconsin can move the ball, but when it gets to the red zone, disaster seems to strike. Fumbles bobbled snaps, interceptions, you name it. As a result, Wisconsin just scored 10 points against and 13 against Notre Dame.

Wisconsin’s struggles to score in the red zone have a lot to do with its issues putting points on the board. Since scoring 49 points against Michigan football (which was aided by U-M turnovers) last season, Wisconsin is averaging 17.3 PPG over its last eight games.

This should favor Michigan’s defense. Michigan football has played a bend but don’t break style of defense this season, but it has only allowed seven red zone opportunities thus far.

However, the Wolverines allowed just three touchdowns off those opportunities and rank 4th in the nation in scoring defense at 11.8 PPG. Wisconsin does not create explosive plays consistently so if Michigan can make the Badgers drive the length of the field, I like its chances defensively.

Wisconsin’s offensive identity has not changed

If you have been watching Big Ten football for any length of time, you know that Wisconsin wants to pound the rock.

Wisconsin is known for producing offensive linemen and usually has an elite running back. Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett, Brian Calhoun, Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, and Jonathan Taylor are among the notable running backs that Wisconsin has had. I don’t think that Wisconsin has a back of that caliber this year, but that hasn’t stopped Wisconsin from establishing the run.

Wisconsin has run the ball on 58.9% of its offensive snaps this season, so they have nearly a 60/40 run-pass split. The Badgers are averaging 203 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 33rd in the country.

The Badgers have mainly used three backs this season in Chez Mellusi, Isaac Guerrendo, and Jalen Berger. Mellusi has been the bell cow so far and he has 319 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry. Guerrendo has 153 yards on 7.3 YPC, aided by an 82-yard touchdown, and Berger averages 4.4 yards per carry.

Michigan football’s defensive line has caused a lot of consternation among fans partially because of what Wisconsin has done against the last few years.

Michigan has been in the middle of the pack in run defense this season, ranking 57th in rushing yards per game at 131.8 and 60th in yards per carry at 3.7.