Preview: Wisconsin at Michigan State

When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, September 24, 2016
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan

No. 8 Michigan State begins the defense of its Big Ten title when its hosts No. 10 Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans come off a big win at Notre Dame while the Badgers are hoping for a better outing than last week's six-point win over Georgia State.

Michigan State's running game got in gear against the Irish, racking up 260 yards, including 198 and three touchdowns combined by LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes. Defensively, the Spartans have been stingy against the run, allowing a Big Ten-best 72 yards a game, though the Badgers have also been tough, ranking second with an 82.3-yard average. Wisconsin is averaging 31 points but who is starting at quarterback is still up in the air, as coach Paul Chryst has juggled senior Bart Houston and freshman Alex Hornibrook in the season's first three contests. The Badgers are hoping to get leading rusher Corey Clement (197 yards, three TDs) back after he missed the Georgia State game with an ankle injury, though he was still questionable in the days before the contest.

TV: Noon ET. Big Ten Network. LINE: Michigan State -5

ABOUT WISCONSIN (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten): Wisconsin is unbeaten and averaging more than 30 points, but the Badgers are still very concerned about their play in the red zone this season. Chryst’s squad is 91st in the nation in touchdowns scored per red-zone trip at 53.3 percent (8-for-15), so the head coach was understandably perturbed when asked about it in the week before the matchup with the Spartans. Last year, the team scored a touchdown on 64.8 percent of its trips into the red zone, a percentage the Badgers will need to get much closer to if they hope to contend in the Big Ten West.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (2-0, 0-0): A big question for Michigan State entering the season was the play at quarterback, with Tyler O’Connor taking the reins of the defending league champion’s offense. But two games in, and O’Connor has shown poise, even on the road in front of a raucous crowd in South Bend, Ind., and his numbers have been solid (431 yards, five TDs, two interceptions). With the Spartans’ running game getting in gear and O’Connor having targets like R.J. Shelton and emerging freshman Donnie Corley to throw to, the quarterback could end up being one of coach Mark Dantonio’s smallest worries going forward.


1. Wisconsin ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten and third in the country in time of possession, averaging 38:25.

2. Badgers PK Rafael Gaglianone has been nearly perfect this year, connecting on 7-of-8 field-goal attempts and hitting 10-of-10 PATs.

3. Michigan State has won 10 of its last 13 contests played against ranked opponents, including six of its last seven, with the only loss coming to eventual national champion Alabama in last year’s national semifinals.

PREDICTION: Michigan State 27, Wisconsin 20

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Wisconsin 3-0 W3 31.0 13.7 3-0 0-0 1-0 0-0 0-0
Michigan State 2-0 W2 32.0 20.5 1-0 1-0 2-0 0-0 0-0

Last Meeting

Wisconsin Michigan State
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/27/12 MSU 16 WIS 13 190 19 171 277 61 216

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
WIS J. Stave 81.8 127 1 0
MSU A. Maxwell 61.5 216 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
WIS M. Ball 22 46 2.1 0
MSU L. Bell 21 77 3.7 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
WIS J. Pedersen 3 65 21.7 1
MSU K. Mumphery 5 63 12.6 0
TDs Player TD
WIS J. Pedersen 1
MSU L. Bell 1
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
WIS B. Houston 62.0 527 2 2
MSU T. O'Connor 72.7 431 5 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
WIS C. Clement 42 197 4.7 3
MSU L. Scott 42 203 4.8 2
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
WIS R. Wheelwright 12 194 16.2 0
MSU M. Madaris 7 125 17.9 0
TDs Player TD
WIS C. Clement 3
MSU G. Holmes 2

Quickchart Matchup

Wisconsin Off vs  Michigan State Def
441.7 yards
313.5 yards
4.2 yards/rush
2.5 yards/rush
8.1 yards/attempt
7.1 yards/attempt
Michigan State Off vs  Wisconsin Def
431 yards
261 yards
4.7 yards/rush
3.3 yards/rush
9.8 yards/attempt
7.1 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Wisconsin Overall Michigan State
3-0-0 W/L 2-0-0
2-1-0 ATS 1-1-0
1-2-0 O/U 1-1-0
31.0 Pts For 32.0
13.7 Pts Against 20.5
Wisconsin A/H Michigan State
0-0 W/L 1-0
0-0-0 ATS 0-1-0
0-0-0 O/U 0-1-0
0.0 Pts For 28.0
0.0 Pts Against 13.0