Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin vs. Penn State Game Preview
Check out the Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin vs. Penn State fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 3
Game Time: 8:00 pm
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Bowl and Conference Implications
What we know: the winner will be the Big Ten champion. What we don’t know: does that mean the winner will get a spot in the College Football Playoff? At the very least, the winner will end up in the Rose Bowl and the loser will probably be in a New Year’s Six bowl of some sort – but that’s not guaranteed.
What Does Each Team Need To Do?
Penn State, you’d better start out hot or there will be big, big problems.
The Nittany Lions have been amazing at blowing up in the second halves of games, but it’s taking a while to get the engine revved up, down 12-10 at halftime to Michigan State, up only 9-0 on Rutgers at the break, tied at 14 against Indiana, tied at 17 against Purdue and down 12-7 to Ohio State. Get down by any appreciable stretch against Wisconsin, and get ready for Badger stallball being taken to a whole other level.
Penn State doesn’t convert third downs – Wisconsin’t D is third in the nation in third down stop percentage.
Penn State doesn’t really grind out the clock – Wisconsin is No. 1 in the nation in time of possession.
But what Penn State does do really, really well is explode in the second half, with QB Trace McSorley able to crank up the deep ball while defenses spend all their time worrying about Saquon Barkley.
Wisconsin’s defensive back 7/8 is devastating against midrange passing games – picking off Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner four times in the second half and rarely allowing yards after the catch on a regular basis all season long. However, the Badger D can be hit by the long ball.
That’s how Bucky lost to Michigan – one big deep play – and Purdue kept it mildly interesting for a little while with some big passes, but for the most part, there haven’t been too many teams on the schedule who can take the top off a defense. Penn State has to get vertical and it can’t be afraid of making a few mistakes here and there. Eventually, the deep ball will pay off.
But Wisconsin will have to throw, too, and it’ll have to do it with Bart Houston.
The starter at the beginning of the year, he threw for 205 yards and two picks against LSU and 231 yards and two touchdowns against Akron, and then the offense stopped working against Georgia State, and the Alex Hornibrook two quarterback system kicked into overdrive.
But Hornibrook is iffy – but he’s expected to an option – after getting blasted against the Gophers. No matter who’s at quarterback, the third down passing game has to work considering the Penn State run defense has gotten better and better over the course of the season, allowing fewer than 100 yards three times in the last five games and no more than 170 over the last seven.
But that doesn’t mean the Badgers aren’t going to try.
Ruthlessly efficient and effective, the formula continues to work. Pound, keep pounding, and eventually, defenses break under the pressure of the Wisconsin power running game.
Combine the three-headed running back monster of Corey Clement, Dare Ogbunowale – especially on third downs – and Bradrick Shaw along with the speed of Jazz Peavy on jet sweeps and crossing patterns, and Wisconsin is able to wear down defenses.
What’s Going To Happen?
Penn State has been a different team over the second half of the season, scoring 39 points or more in each of its last five games, winning all of them in a blowout, coming off of clutch performances against Minnesota and Ohio State, pulling games out of the fire they should’ve lost.
But they also go destroyed by Michigan 49-10, and how? They couldn’t handle the Wolverine running game, and couldn’t deal with the defensive line that held them to just 70 rushing yards.
It’s not going to be that ugly, but the same thing that worked for Michigan back in September 24th will work in Indianapolis. Penn State might be a far different team now, but Wisconsin has gotten better and better as the season has rolled on, too.
The Badger will win a grinder, and then they’ll have to hope and pray it was enough to impress the folks in Grapevine.
Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin vs. Penn State Prediction
Wisconsin 27, Penn State 20
Wisconsin -2.5, o/u: 48
ATS Confidence: 5: Mitt Romney – 1: Rudy Guiliani … 4
Must See Rating: 5: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 1: CMA Country Christmas 2016 … 5