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Key Matchup: Michigan State vs. Wisconsin

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The Spartans and Badgers are kicking off the conference schedule in style.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Notre Dame Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten conference play is finally here. Michigan State is kicking off this Saturday vs the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers are fantastic opponent to have lead off the conference schedule as these two teams always leave it on the field when they get matched up against each other. It is going to be a tight one, and defense will be key. Time to put the Green and White back on and get ready for the weekend.

Wisconsin loves to make things interesting. They grind out victories and are extremely tough in crunch time. The last three meetings between these two teams have been decided by 7 points or less. It is shaping up to be another great game to watch.

The biggest aspect to key on is the Michigan State rushing attack vs the Wisconsin defense. These sides of the ball will be critical to either team walking out with a win. Which ever is more successful, particularly as it pertains to that matchup may likely end up winning the game.

Wisconsin Defense vs Spartans Run Game

These two teams are extremely physical at the line of scrimmage. We have seen that through both teams impressive wins. A Michigan State run game ran it for 260 yards against a very good Notre Dame front 7. While the Wisconsin defense has shown up to play in the first three games this season. They have only allowed 247 rushing yards through these games. 138 of those yards came thanks to one of the best running backs in the nation, Leonard Fournette. Wisconsin managed to beat then ranked No. 5 LSU and keep Fournette out of the end-zone, a player who many thought would be in the running to win the Heisman this year.

As stated earlier, the line of scrimmage will be so crucial during this game. Michigan State likes to try and pound the ball until their opponents finally break and Wisconsin’s defensive line has done a terrific job all year with eating up blocks. This in turn creates opportunities for their linebackers to make plays which they have taken advantage of. Their linebackers happen to be the top three tacklers on the defense. They will look to bottle the Spartans up at the line of scrimmage and make Tyler O’Connor beat them.

Whereas the Badger defense managed to keep three teams to a total of 247 rushing yards to start off the year, Michigan State obtained 260 total yards on the ground during a single game. The Spartans’ m.o. is to run the ball. That is who they are and that is who head coach Mark Dantonio is. Their play total last Saturday accounted for 52 run plays, of which over 40 were designed runs. Whereas they only let Tyler O’Connor fling the ball around 26 total times.

There is no doubt Mark Dantonio will look to stick with the script against Wisconsin as well. This will be a physical and exhausting game for the players. Both sides of the ball will need to be mentally and physically prepared for Big Ten football come Saturday.

Like most football games, it will most likely be won or lost at the line of scrimmage. This game is shaping up to be very interesting and intense down in the trenches. We can only wait and see who comes out on the other side.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans have a very tough game ahead of them, but it will not be easy for Wisconsin to come out the victors either. The last four times they have traveled to East Lansing, Sparty has prevailed.

Assuming the game is tight in the fourth quarter, you’ll be rooting for the Spartans to do what most teams have not done this year: They’ll need to run the ball well against what is a very good and successful defense.