Michigan Football: 5 things to know about Wisconsin

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Graham Mertz is not the savior he was thought to be

For as long as Wisconsin has elite offensive lines and running backs, it has also had the kind of quarterbacks that you would describe as a steady, but a boring game manager.

Jim Sorgi, John Stocco, Alex Horningbrook, and Jack Coan come to mind. The notable exception to that group was Russell Wilson, who has gone on to have an exceptional NFL career.

Graham Mertz was thought to be an exception as well after being ranked a four-star and top 100 recruit out of high school. The way his career started, it looked like he would be as well. In his college debut against Illinois, Mertz went 20-21 for 248 yards and five touchdown passes.

However, Illinois has one of the worst pass defenses in the country. Since then, Mertz has had five touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. This season, Mertz is completing 56.8% of his passes with one TD pass and six interceptions.

Mertz’s struggles make it even more imperative that Michigan football limits Wisconsin’s running game. If Michigan can make Wisconsin one-dimensional and force Mertz to win the game, that will greatly improve its chance to win.

Wisconsin’s defense is elite

Michigan played a good Washington defense a few weeks ago, but the Huskies’ weakness was their run defense, which Michigan exploited.

Wisconsin will be a much stiffer test. The Badgers defense is in 2nd total defense, giving up 210 yards per game. Most troubling for Michigan football is that Wisconsin has the best run defense in the country.

The Badgers give up 23 rushing YPG and one YPC. They held Penn State to 50 yards on 18 attempts and gave up nine yards on 32 attempts. Part of that was sacks but Irish running backs Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree had just 39 yards on  20 carries.

It will be strength on strength when Michigan’s rushing attack takes on Wisconsin’s run defense. This will be one of the deciding factors in the game.

Michigan struggled running against Rutgers last week, which Wisconsin is well aware of. The Badgers will surely stack the box and force Cade McNamara to win the game with his arm.

Next. 3 reasons Michigan will beat Wisconsin. dark

McNamara must make keep Wisconsin’s defense honest and it is also on OC Josh Gattis to call a better game than he did last week.