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Know Thy Enemy: Wisconsin Badgers

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Who are these Badgers from MadTown?

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

2019 record: 10-3 (7-2)

Key Numbers + Info (2019 season)

OOC Opponents: USF, Central Michigan, Kent State

Points per game: 34.62

Points allowed per game: 16.08

Avg. yards per rush: 5.4

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 3.4

Avg. rush yards per game: 240.5

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 102.4

Rushing TDs: 37 for, 8 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 201.23

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 191.15

Avg per attempt: 8.28

Avg per attempt allowed: 6.31

Passing TDs: 17 for, 18 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 71%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 51%

Leading Rusher: Johnathan Taylor (299 attempts for 1,909 yards 21 touchdowns)

Leading Receiver: Quintez Cephus (52 receptions for 842 yards and six TDs)

Leading Tackler: Chris Orr (72 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks)

Leader in Sacks: Zack Baun (71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks)

Analytics

Credit to Zane Murffit of Cougcenter.com for doing the Sports Source Analytics charts weekly. They are an immense help. Here’s a glossary to help you translate the numbers.

Wisconsin Offense vs Oregon Defense

Wisconsin’s offense is on par with Utah if not better based on success rate. The Badgers unsurprisingly rank as a top 15 run success rate team in FBS. They are a slightly run first team based on the analytics. They are ranked in the top 30 in FBS in yards per pass. Wisconsin’s run game has been among the elite according to run success rate, averaging over 5.8 yards per carry before sacks.

Oregon dropped from 17th in total yards per play allowed in FBS from the Pac-12 title game to 18th. Wisconsin has converted 50.58% of its third downs but Oregon decreased its conversions allowed rate to the tune of 33.50%. This game will be match-up of strength on strength.

Wisconsin is worse than Utah in generating the explosive play while Oregon decreased from the 18th to 19th position from the game prior. Oregon still remains a top three unit in red zone defense but the Badgers have a similarly ranked red zone offense compared to the Utes.

Where the Ducks can struggle is in the havoc and stuff rate as Wisconsin ranks in the top ten while Oregon has struggled in stuff rate but still is top 20 in havoc rate. Strength on strength battle.

The Ducks will have to be wary of one of the best offensive lines in the nation on an annual basis and arguably the best running back in the country. Johnathan Taylor is a two time Doak Walker Award winner for a reason.

Wisconsin is a top 50 offense in terms of explosion plays, ranking in the top thirty in the run game as the analytics bear out.

Defensively, Oregon increased from the 23rd position to 20th in stopping the explosive pass play. The secondary will have to be on their toes against one of the more underrated receivers in Quintez Cephus.

Wisconsin will provide a slightly better test for the Ducks defense inside the 40 as they rank 19th in such opportunities. The Ducks maintained their second place ranking defensively in this category from the Pac-12 title match.

As you can see, second down will be the key match-up (47% to 34% allowed) as both teams rank above average of the Power 5. Third down will be a battle between a top five offense against a top 25 defense. The Badgers have a first down success rate of 50% while Oregon stops teams on 42% of those.

Oregon Offense vs Wisconsin Defense

Oregon’s offense should be in for a tough day against a nearly unbeatable Badgers’ overall defense that ranks near the best in the nation in both the run and the pass. The run game success rate decreased after the conference title game. It will be interesting to see how the run game fares against one of the best defenses in the country.

Oregon’s offense increased its production by averaging 6.47 yards per play while Wisconsin’s defense is averaging 4.82 yards per play given up. The Badgers’ pass defense will be a strength on “weakness” match-up as they have allowed 4.82 yards per attempt while the Ducks go for 7.04 per pass.

Where they are “vulnerable” is in the run game. Oregon is 29th in the country in yards per rush at 5.55 while Wisconsin allows nearly 4.9 yards per attempt, ranking 68th in all of FBS.

In addition to being nearly invulnerable in pass game, the Badgers are particularly good at not giving it up on third downs.

The Ducks need to focus their plan of attack on running the ball to loosen up the vaunted Badgers pass defense.

Wisconsin will provide a much lesser test than the Utes did for the Ducks’ passing attack as they are ranked 25th in passing explosive rate defense.

The Badgers are a significantly worse explosive run defense than the Utes took the field with so the Ducks need to hit the big run early and often.

The Ducks should have plenty of issues with scoring inside the Utes’ 40 yard line as they are a talented defense in that category in all facets.

Oregon should have plenty of issues with scoring inside the Badgers’ 40 yard line as they are a talented defense in that category in all facets.

If you look at this chart, the game clearly will be decided on second down as Oregon’s offensive chances are on par with the Badgers’ similarly highly ranked defensive numbers. Simply put, they will need to stop the Ducks from gaining any type of momentum on first and third downs.

Key players to watch

1. Johnathan Taylor 5’11 219 RB Junior

  • Taylor is the best running back in the nation and has the hardware to prove it. He’s a physical runner that relishes contact. The instincts and vision are major pluses. Footwork that can make defenders miss with regularity. Knows how and when to use his athleticism. He should’ve been invited to New York but was somehow insanely snubbed. Should be a really high pick if he declares for the draft.

2. Zack Baun 6’3 235 EDGE RS Senior

  • Baun is one of the best EDGE prospects in the nation. He’s very fundamentally disciplined like most Wisconsin defenders are. Was a multisport athlete in high school and the basketball skills translate with his footwork and ability to maintain balance. A technician. Production is also present as he leads the team in sacks and is second in tackles for loss.

3. Cole Van Lanen 6’5 312 OT RS Junior

  • A road grader at left tackle and the next dude that should get drafted very highly out of Wisconsin. He’s not the best athlete but the technical skills offset the limited athleticism. CVL just punishes the defender with his physicality and it shows on tape. He could fit better inside at guard. Draft status is unknown as of press time but it’s likely that he will declare.

4. Tyler Biadasz 6’3 321 OL RS Junior

  • Biadasz is the best center prospect in the country but has experience playing guard for the Badgers. His versatility will be his calling card at the next level. He’s a mauler on the interior and once he locks on the defender, it’s over. Football IQ is a major plus.

5. Quintez Cephus 6’1 207 WR RS Junior

  • Lateral quickness is the name of his game. Not the fastest in a straight line. He projects as a slot receiver at the next level. Wisconsin uses him all over the field. There is one huge off the field issue as he missed all of 2018 due to being charged in two separate cases of sexual assault. He was later “exonerated” when the charges were dropped.

6. Chris Orr 6’0 224 LB RS Senior

  • A beast in the passing game. He’s the leader in tackles and tackles for losses along with having double digit sacks for the 2019 season. A bit undersized even for today’s linebacker standards. He can drop back into coverage as well. Not the most experienced as a redshirt senior as he had to sit behind multiple NFL ready starters before finally getting his chance.

Keys to an Oregon Win

  • Defense. In particular, the run defense. Andy Avalos must have a plan to contain the best running back in the nation, Johnathan Taylor and Discount Anthony Gordon, Coan. If he doesn’t, it will be a long day at the office for his charges because of Wisconsin’s physicality in that phase of the game.
  • Offensive line. Wisconsin has two Anae level production in its front seven. Coach Mirabal will definitely earn his paycheck against a very good front seven that feasts on mistakes.
  • Tackling. It has to be at the forefront as the tackling has been an issue for several weeks and against Taylor, it will be a bad day if he isn’t tackled as he’s faster than Zack Moss.
  • Mentality. This game will be decided in the trenches so the team that wins those physical battles will win the war. Are the Ducks tough enough to go punch for punch for 60 minutes against a team with this much brute strength?

Keys to an Oregon Loss

  • Marcus Arroyo. Is he going to pull a Mark Richt and lose the game by not focused for this game due to his new job? He has done a solid job this season so can he finish the right way against one of the best defensive coordinators in college football?
  • Justin Herbert. Herbert will need to come up with yet another “best game of his playing career” to beat the Badgers. Can he find his inner Good Herbert instead of the wholly inconsistent Bad Herbert? He has to in order to combat an NFL level DC in Jim Leonhard. Win this game and his Ducks legacy is immeasurably secure, lose this game, he turns into another QB that failed to live up to his potential.
  • Defensive Line. Can they compete with arguably the best offensive line they have faced this season? Kayvon Thibodeaux and company dominating mediocre offensive lines is one thing, matching up against an OL with NFL ready prospects is another.

What are the Odds?

The WestGate Superbook has Wisconsin as 3 point favorites. The O/U is set at 51.5. The money line is Wisconsin -150 Oregon +130.

William Hill has Wisconsin as 3 point favorites. The O/U is set at 51.5. The money line is Wisconsin -145 Oregon +125

DraftKings has Wisconsin as 3 point favorites. O/U is set at 51.5 The money line is Wisky -152 Oregon +120