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The Wisconsin Badgers and Jim Leonhard have an awesome opportunity Saturday against Michigan State.
Fresh off a 42-7 win over Northwestern in Jim Leonhard’s debut as the interim head coach of the Badgers, Wisconsin will now square up with the Spartans in East Lansing at 4:00 EST on Fox.
Going into the season, everyone had this game circled as one that would be huge. By the middle of October, both teams were supposed to be in conference title contention.
That’s still the case for Wisconsin. It’s not for Michigan State, but that’s not the important thing to focus on.
Wisconsin/MSU is another chance for Jim Leonhard to earn a win and prove himself worthy of being the permanent coach.
This is Jim Leonhard’s second game as the interim coach, and it’s time to find out whether or not the blowout against Northwestern was a fluke or legit.
Let’s be clear. The Spartans aren’t good, and nobody really has any idea what Wisconsin is. Let’s not pretend those aren’t the cards on the table.
MSU is bad. Wisconsin might be bad. The Badgers might be okay. We simply don’t know. All we know for sure is there’s a new era of football unfolding for the program, and the next step involves playing on the road against the Spartans.
Why should Wisconsin fans be optimistic about the game against Michigan State?
With the Badgers sitting at 3-3 and the Big Ten West being wide open, Wisconsin can still make some noise. A win against Michigan State would help, and there’s lots to be optimistic about.
The Spartans are giving up an average of 27 points a game, and an average of nearly 300 yards through the air. Only one P5 team has been held under 300 passing yards against Mel Tucker’s team, and it was Minnesota. Somehow, Tanner Morgan only threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns. That’s one of the best defensive efforts the Spartans had all season.
Usually, you wouldn’t worry about Wisconsin’s passing game. However, the Badgers threw six touchdowns against Northwestern, and that should terrify Michigan State’s defense.
Things aren’t much better on the ground for the Spartans. MSU is averaging giving up 153.5 yards a game on the ground. That’s bad news playing against a Wisconsin team with Braelon Allen.
As for our defense, Wisconsin has had some bad showings against Ohio State and Illinois, but both of those squads are much better than MSU. With Leonhard in complete control, the Badgers dismantled the Wildcats last weekend. Given the fact Michigan State isn’t loaded with offensive weapons, there’s no real reason to be concerned.
Bottom line: The Badgers have everything going in the right direction for a win.
While it’s impossible to know what will happen for sure, everything points to Wisconsin getting a win on the road against the Spartans. It’s hard to believe we have a serious shot of rattling off back-to-back wins after what happened against Illinois, but for the first time in a long time, there’s energy around the program. Let’s hope we take care of business. Jim Leonhard going 2-0 to start with a pair of road wins would do a lot to cement him as the leader of Wisconsin.