EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 08: Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a touchdown pass to Chimere Dike #13 (not pictured) against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on October 08, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Why I believe Wisconsin Badgers will beat Purdue

Wisconsin Badgers look to get back in the win column and keep their season alive with a win over Purdue. As the West division stands now, Purdue is tied for first with Illinois. A vast game to keep the Badger’s hopes alive, here’s why I think the Badgers can shock the Big Ten and win this game.

Home Field Advantage

Camp Randall is always rocking, as long as it’s not an 11 AM kickoff against a non-conference opponent. This weekend should be a huge advantage for Wisconsin as it is not only homecoming but also a 2:30 PM kickoff. I hope to see the student section packed and loud, giving the Badgers a much-needed advantage. 

Continue Balanced Attack

This is arguably the best we have seen the offense during Graham Mertz’s time at Wisconsin. Since Jim Leonhard took over and Bobby Engram moved to the sideline, a much more creative and balanced attack has seen the offense put together multiple good weeks. 

I think we will see more of this on Saturday as Purdue’s defense is pretty average when it comes to the run and pass. Continuing to mix it up on first down was the key to Mertz’s success against Northwestern. Keeping the defense on their toes not only allows the passing game to thrive but also gives Braelon Allen the chance to not see a loaded box. 

Turnover Battle

This game may easily come down to who makes fewer mistakes. Both Wisconsin and Purdue are tops in the Big Ten when it comes to forcing turnovers. Last year’s game against Purdue saw seven turnovers between these teams. Wisconsin ended up being a +3 which helped give them the edge.

Graham Mertz Big Game

Contrary to popular belief, I personally think Mertz has been really good so far this season. His completion percentage, passer rating, and touchdowns are all up from last season. The one thing that is missing is consistency, and as he gets more comfortable with his receivers I suspect this to improve.

Purdue’s pass defense is nothing to write home about as they rank just 103rd in the country in terms of pass yards per game. I look for Mertz to have a big game. As long as he takes care of the football and stays ahead of the sticks, Wisconsin’s offense may be in for a big day.

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Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) and the rest of the offensive unit listens to quarterback Graham Mertz (5) in the huddle during their game Saturday, November 20, 2021 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat Nebraska 35-28. Mjs Uwgrid21 24 Jpg Uwgrid21

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans: What to watch for

The Wisconsin Badgers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) will hit the road to take on the Michigan State Spartans (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon.

The Badgers are coming off a blowout victory against the Northwestern Wildcats in a game where quarterback Graham Mertz threw for five touchdowns.

As for the Spartans, they are currently on a four-game losing streak. MSU will look to finally right the ship on Saturday in their fourth conference matchup.

Here are some key items to watch for in Saturday’s matchup.

How will the running game look after Chez Mellusi’s injury?

The Badgers’ running back room suffered a big blow after running back Chez Mellusi went down with a wrist injury against Northwestern. The senior back has had a productive season, rushing for 223 yards on 56 carries with a touchdown. Now, without Mellusi, the Badgers will need to find some answers on the ground.

The depth chart shows that Isaac Guerendo will be the next man up behind Braelon Allen. Guerendo, a redshirt senior, has seen less time in the backfield this season. Despite the smaller workload, the 6-foot, 223-pound running back has posted 92 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns.

Julius Davis is another running back that could see some time. Davis has appeared in two games this season and holds a stat line of 11 carries for 82 yards.

With the loss of Mellusi for an indefinite amount of time, the Badgers will need to find some answers on the ground. UW’s running back room is deep with plenty of talent. How Wisconsin responds will be a key item to watch for in this weekend’s showdown.

Will the Wisconsin Badgers attack through the air?

Wisconsin is a program known for establishing the run. However, against Northwestern last week, the Badgers put together an incredible performance in the passing game.

Quarterback Graham Mertz put up a stat line of 299 yards and five touchdowns. Mertz targeted Chimere Dike 11 times and completed 10 of those targets for 185 yards and three touchdowns. After a strong week last week, Wisconsin may be able to find success through the air once again.

Michigan State’s secondary has been subpar, to say the least. The secondary has allowed an average of 292 passing yards per game. In their previous matchup against Ohio State, CJ Stroud passed for 377 yards and six touchdowns. While CJ Stroud is extremely talented, his performance is still indicative of the Spartan’s struggles in the secondary.

Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator Bobby Engram put together a well balanced attack in last weeks victory. It will be interesting to see if Wisconsin decides to attack through the air more often than not on Saturday.

Will the Wisconsin Badgers pass rush continue to get pressure after a great game last week?

There have been some concerns about the Badgers pass rush this season. With an impressive defensive front, it was slightly out of character for the UW defense to get little pressure. However, that was flipped after a great showing in Evanston.

Wisconsin’s defensive front caused plenty of disruption in the backfield, getting past the Northwestern offensive line with ease. Against a poor Spartan’s offensive line, the Badgers have another prime opportunity to wreak havoc.

Michigan State’s offensive line allowed four sacks against Ohio State. They also struggled to give any opportunities for the running backs as they finished with just seven rushing yards. While Ohio State’s defense is very talented, that kind of performance is indicative of the poor play of that offensive line.

As Wisconsin’s defense matches up against the Spartan’s offense, keep an eye on the pass rush as they look to build off a solid performance last week.

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