Penn State vs Wisconsin prediction and game preview.
Penn State vs Wisconsin Broadcast
Date: Saturday, September 4
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
Penn State (0-0) vs Wisconsin (0-0) Game Preview
Why Penn State Will Win
This sounds like a silly question before it’s even finished, but …
Can Wisconsin run the ball?
It might have a fantastic quarterback in Graham Mertz, but after last year, the Badgers have to prove they can consistently 1) run and 2) score.
There were a whole slew of reasons why Wisconsin struggled on the ground – like, injured receivers and a rocky passing game allowing defenses to load up more than usual – but this is the gold standard college football running program and it only got to 200 yards once.
The Badger defense had to help the cause far too often – like in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over Wake Forest – so if Penn State can just limit the turnovers and not get slaughtered in the time of possession battle, the grinding battle could be a positive.
The Penn State defense might be rebuilding a tad, but it’s got the linebackers and the bulk up front to hold up.
Mertz should be stronger as a sophomore – he has his receivers back – but if the Nittany Lion D can hold up on first down and make Wisconsin throw, the veteran secondary should be able to handle itself.
Why Wisconsin Will Win
The Badger defense is going to be special.
As long as Mertz doesn’t make many key mistakes, and if the running game is good enough to control the clock and the tempo, the other side of the ball will take care of the rest.
Wisconsin’s turnover problem was confined to a three-game stretch in the middle of the season – giving it up nine times in the team’s three losses. Penn State turned it over 17 times on the year, screwing up two or more times in five games.
The Badgers have one of the nation’s better linebacking corps – even if it’s not given a whole lot of preseason credit – to go along with a stellar group of safeties and the normal bulk up front.
If Penn State hasn’t completely fixed the 2020 pass protection glitch on the offensive front – there’s way too much talent to be mediocre again – the Wisconsin outside linebackers will live rent free behind the line. The turnovers will soon follow.
What’s Going To Happen
Which quarterback will come through on third downs?
Moving the chains will come at a premium against what should be two of the Big Ten’s top defenses. Mertz might have the receivers, but is he really ready to take that next step? Penn State’s Sean Clifford has the talent to do a little everything, and he’s got a few weapons who can get deep.
Expect both defenses to be fantastic, both running games to struggle, and both passing attacks to come up with a few home runs out of the blue.
It’ll be a thriller on the first big game on a huge college football Saturday. At home, the Badgers will get the one gut-check scoring drive late, and the one big defensive stop to seal it.
Penn State vs Wisconsin Prediction, Line
Wisconsin 23, Penn State 17
Wisconsin -4.5, o/u: 51.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
Must See Rating: 4.5
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