After a definitive win against the University of South Florida, the Badgers are set to face off against Central Michigan on Saturday at Camp Randall. In their home opener, the Badgers will look to continue what they did well against USF in order to begin the season with a strong 2-0 record.
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Primarily, Heisman-hopeful Jonathan Taylor will have a clear opportunity to put on yet another dominating performance against the Chippewas on Saturday. The Chippewas historically struggled mightily to defend against the run throughout their 2018 season.
Last year, their defense gave up an average of over 200 rushing yards per game as their team accumulated a measly 1-11 record. The Central Michigan secondary, on the other hand, put on a much more stalwart performance against the air attack, allowing an average of just 150 passing yards per game.
The Badgers’ ground game is their clear strength with both the talented — if not extremely experienced — offensive line and the best running back in the nation in Taylor. Due to both of these factors, the Chippewas will be forced to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat defensively if they are to stand a chance at stopping the Badger run attack.
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But this does not mean it will be guaranteed smooth sailing for the Badgers in this regard. In their season opener against the University of Albany, the Chippewas managed to hold UA to just under 50 yards rushing for the entire game.
UA does not have the Badger offensive line and they certainly don’t have Taylor. Yet this early season performance displays a possible changing of the guard for their defensive capabilities which cannot be ignored by the Badgers as they head into their second week of competition.
One of the gaps in performance for the Badgers against USF was their pass coverage. While they prevented the Bulls from scoring through the air or even gaining solid chunks of yardage, part of the reason this occurred was due to multiple early drops by USF receivers on plays that otherwise would have acquired significant yardage.
Central Michigan comes into Saturday’s match-up hot off a game in which they had two break-out performances from wide receivers Kalil Pimpleton and Tyrone Scott. Pimpleton went for 40 yards receiving with a touchdown while Scott acquired a team-high: 93 yards receiving as well as two touchdowns.
This clearly-talented receiver core for the Chippewas will look to put early pressure on a still-relatively young Badger secondary that initially faltered against USF.
In order to keep some of this pressure on their secondary and remain strong on defense, the Badgers will look to continue to push to create turnovers as they did against USF.
The Badgers managed to force three turnovers last weekend, one of which produced a defensive touchdown from defensive lineman Matt Henningsen.
Even as they marched their way to a 38–21 victory over UA, the Chippewas coughed up the ball four times on offense, three of which ended up in turnovers. With some propensity to lose possession of the ball already on display, the Badgers will look to exploit an area of play in which they already had a decisive advantage.
Despite any perceived weaknesses on the part of the Badgers they are still ultimately favored by 35 points to win their home opener against the Chippewas.
What’s most important is for the Badgers put on another impressive performance as they seek to out-do a 2018 season that left much to be desired.