The University of Wisconsin Badgers (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten) square off against the Army Black Knights (4-1) under the lights at Camp Randall Saturday night. For any fanatics of the running game, this is the game for you.
Wisconsin comes off of a 24-0 win on the road against Illinois (2-5, 1-3 Big Ten). The Badgers ran the ball with dominance, with Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen combining for 276 yards and each finding the end zone. The defense was in total control throughout, allowing just 93 total yards in the shutout. The run game and defense are the recipe to a win of the same nature against Army.
Army brings their triple option rushing attack to Madison, boasting 318.2 rushing yards a game for second in the nation. This unit will be tested to its core Saturday night against the Badgers, a defense that leads the country in rushing yards allowed per game at just 41.4. The winner of this battle will have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
This game could look very similar to the matchup last week against Illinois. Wisconsin will have a similar game plan, pounding the running game to control the clock. If the offensive line can continue to carve out room for Mellusi and Allen to execute they could have another huge game production wise. Keeping the defense and Army’s triple option off of the field is priority number one for the Badgers’ offense.
The defense’s focus has been on the triple option all week. Eliminating the running game from Army is fatal to their team, as the offense has depended on it all year with over 90% of their snaps being run plays. To eliminate this rushing attack is easier said than done and will be a tall task for even the nation’s best rush defense.
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While the defense will do what they can to stop the potent triple option, the best thing to do is keeping them off the field. The running game is the biggest part of that as well as Graham Mertz controlling the ball. Turnovers are the last thing Wisconsin needs against a run game that could tire out the defense tremendously. Army’s best chance at winning comes from controlling possession paired with multiple turnovers to continually weaken the Badgers’ defense.
This will be a low-scoring game with running plays on seemingly every play. The team that does the best combination of running the ball while stopping the run will have great chances in this one. A performance mirroring last week would be ideal for the Badgers, and almost certainly lead to a win.
Prediction: Wisconsin-26, Army-3