The University of Wisconsin Badgers (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) will look to bounce back from their disappointing week one loss with Eastern Michigan University (1-0, 0-0 MAC), their first non-conference opponent of the year Saturday at Camp Randall.
The two teams have squared off three times in the past, the last matchup being in 1996.
EMU had a better result than the Badgers in the first week, with a 35-15 win against St. Francis University. Three first-half touchdowns from Eastern Michigan’s Samson Evans led the Eagles over the Red Flash.
This matchup will be important for a Wisconsin team whose offense looked quite underwhelming against Penn State last week. The upcoming week is an opportunity to iron things out against one of the weaker opponents of the season — especially with big games against Notre Dame and Michigan coming up.
Badger fans will have all eyes on Graham Mertz, who struggled and threw two interceptions in the loss last week. Paul Chryst will attempt to get the offense back on track, making things easy on Mertz and getting him comfortable.
Expect a big game from transfer running back, Chez Mellusi. The former Clemson back was a bright spot for the Badgers last week and he will be dealt another heavy workload against a significantly weaker defense.
For Eastern Michigan, much of their offense is centered around running the football. Darius Boone was a 100-yard rusher last week, while Jawon Hamilton added another 64 yards. The Badgers did well to stop the run against Penn State, and they will need to do the same against EMU.
The Badgers’ defense was not the issue in the loss last week, so the expectations are for them to make things very difficult for Eastern Michigan. They are not an opponent that should be able to move the ball much on UW, and a couple of turnovers would not be a surprise.
Playing in a night game in Camp Randall is a challenge for any opponent. For a team that went 2-4 in the MAC last season it will be even more difficult, and I do not expect the Badgers to make anything easy on EMU after the loss last week.
Wisconsin is a 26-point favorite in this matchup, and I would expect the Badgers to win by right around that mark. The game is a great opportunity to build momentum going forward in this season.