The Wisconsin Badgers (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will look to get back on track against the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) for Barry Alvarez Day at Camp Randall this Saturday at 11 a.m. 

Wisconsin dominated Michigan in each of the last two seasons, earning big wins against a rival by scores of 49-11 and 35-14. The Badgers will look for a similar performance but have not gotten off to the start they expected.

The two teams have gotten off to quite different starts this season, and this game will be telling of their true identities. Michigan enters the game exceeding expectations thus far with an offense earning over 450 yards per game without a single turnover.

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Wisconsin’s offense has shown us the opposite. The Badgers were not able to get the running game in gear against Notre Dame, and Graham Mertz has been a turnover machine with six interceptions on the season. The offense will need to improve for the team to have a chance to win against Michigan and beyond in the 2021 season.

The Badgers defense has been the bright spot, ranking second in the nation in total defense with 210.3 yards allowed per game. The rushing defense has been one of the tops in the nation, and will look to continue that by shutting down a Michigan ground game.

It sounds like a broken record, but once again the Badgers will be relying on a clean performance from the offense to get the win against Michigan.

While the turnovers have been an obvious killer, there has been no offensive rhythm regardless. The run game will be key to getting this offense on track — opening up easy throws for Mertz. Running backs Chez Mellusi and Jalen Berger should be leaned on heavily to secure a win for the Badgers.

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The turnover battle will be another important aspect to the outcome of this game. As mentioned earlier, Michigan’s offense has been efficient and turnover-free — the Badgers’ have not. Wisconsin cannot continue to put pressure on the defense with turnovers, especially against a Michigan offense that is tough to continuously stop. The turnover ratio will need to stay around even for the Badgers to come out victorious.

Las Vegas expects a close game and low-scoring, favoring the Badgers by two points with a game total of 43.5 points. That kind of game matches up for what Wisconsin wants to do — setting the tone with a strong defense and run game.

In a pivotal game for the Badgers’ future aspirations, they will need to play differently than they have in their past two big matchups.

Score Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Michigan 17