(11) WISCONSIN BADGERS (3-0) at (8) MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (2-0)
WHERE: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
WHEN: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
LINE: Michigan State -5.5
It doesn’t get much bigger than this as far as conference openers are concerned. A top-15 match-up and a possible Big Ten Championship preview as the Badgers head into East Lansing for the first time since 2011. Back then a Russell Wilson-led Wisconsin team fell just short when Kirk Cousins unleashed a hail mary to into the night sky that was eventually caught by Keith Nichol as time expired.
This game is certainly a throwback of sorts as both the Badgers and Spartans feature two of the best ground attacks in the country, as well as physical defenses. MSU comes into this game after knocking off Notre Dame last week in South Bend, a 36-28 victory that was a blowout at one point. Meanwhile Wisconsin struggled to put away an upset-minded Georgia State squad and eventually was able to win 23-17.
Badgers head coach Paul Chryst will be making a change at quarterback on Saturday as redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook will make his first career start against Michigan State. Hornibrook stepped in last Saturday for previous starting QB senior Bart Houston. Can the young QB handle a hostile environment at Spartan Stadium? Another question facing Wisconsin is the availability of star running back Corey Clement, who is still questionable for Saturday’s contest and is dealing with an ankle injury.
On the other side, the Spartans are hoping to play the way they did during the first 3 quarters at Notre Dame, as they jumped out to a 36-7 lead. Senior QB Tyler O’Connor has avoided the big mistakes for the most part and is directing the offense well. The dynamic duo of LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes at halfback could be the best backfield combo in the Big Ten. Last week against the Irish, the two combined for nearly 200 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns. This game will more than likely be decided in the trenches as both teams will try to impose their will upon the other. If you’re a fan of old-school hard-hitting football, this is the game for you.