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#19 Penn State vs. #16 Wisconsin Preview

Posted By Jeremy Hall On Nov 24 2011 @ 1:38 am In Penn State | No Comments

The Nittany Lions improved their record to 9-2 (6-1 Big Ten) on the season after picking up a critical road win in Columbus last weekend. Penn State’s defense stymied a potential go-ahead Buckeye drive late in the 4th quarter, ultimately preserving the 20-14 Nittany Lion victory. Although this was a huge victory for Penn State, the Nittany Lions were not afforded an opportunity to relish in this win. Instead, the Nittany Lions began to prepare for an even more arduous challenge, a trip to Madison for a showdown with the Wisconsin Badgers. Penn State truly controls their own destiny as they head into this fray in Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon. A win versus the imposing Badgers would propel the Nittany Lions into a clash with “Sparty” in the Big Ten Championship Game. This would be a fitting end to the Big Ten season for the Nittany Lions considering they have played Michigan State in all of their final regular season games since entering the Big Ten in 1993. A loss would result in a 2nd place finish in the Big Ten Leaders Division. The Nittany Lions would love to improve their 14-4 (12-3 Big Ten) regular season road record dating back to the beginning of the 2008 season. A win in Madison this weekend would also give Penn State a 4-0 Big Ten road record for the third time in a season (1994 and 2009) since entering the Big Ten Conference. Wisconsin owns an 8-6 series advantage over Penn State; however, the Nittany Lions have won 3 out of the last 4 meetings with the Badgers. The most recent contest (2008) resulting in a dominant 48-7 Penn State victory at Camp Randall.

The Badgers took care of business last week as they defeated the Fighting Illini 28-17 in Champaign setting up this much anticipated showdown with Penn State. Wisconsin improved their record to 9-2 (5-2 Big Ten) on the season with last week’s win but could have been 11-0 heading into this game just as easily had it not been for final second losses in back to back weeks to Michigan State and Ohio State. Wisconsin will be honoring 21 seniors in pre-game festivities on Saturday and could not think of a better send off than giving those Badgers an opportunity to play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin has truly enjoyed home cooking over the past two seasons as they look to go 7-0 at Camp Randall Stadium in consecutive seasons. In fact, Wisconsin has been virtually unstoppable at home during this stretch and they are averaging 52.3 points/game at home this season. Not to mention the Badgers own the nation’s second longest home winning streak with 15 straight victories at the friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin also knows how to close out the regular season having fostered an 18-2 record in regular season games played after November 1st over the past 6 seasons.

Important Factors For Penn State Success:
- Continue their success on the ground in order to open up their passing game (the WU pass defense is ranked 3rd in the nation)
- Score on every opportunity in the Red Zone (PSU has only scored on 78% of their drives in the Red Zone on the season for 90th in the country)
- Don’t allow Wisconsin to sustain drives by converting on 3rd downs (WU has converted on 3rd down 55.12% of the time this season)
- Put pressure on Russell Wilson so he doesn’t get to comfortable in the pocket (Wilson leads the nation in quarterback rating at 199.3)

Important Factors For Wisconsin Success:
- Force Penn State to beat them through the air (PSU ranks 95th in passing offense this season)
- Exploit Penn State’s Red Zone defense (PSU has surrendered points on 92% of opponent drives in the Red Zone)
- Take care of the football; don’t give PSU extra possessions (WU has only committed 7 turnovers this season)
- Keep drives alive by converting on 3rd down thus wearing down the PSU defense

 

#19 Penn State Nittany Lions

#16 Wisconsin Badgers

 
Total Offense (yds/gm)

355.64 (89th)

282.27 (6th)

Total Defense
Rushing Yards/Game

169.73 (45th)

135.45 (44th)

Rushing Defense
Passing Yards/Game

185.91 (95th)

146.82 (3rd)

Passing Defense
Sacks Allowed/Game

1.09 (21st)

2.09 (42nd)

Sacks/Game
Giveaways

18 (49th)

18 (61st)

Takeaways
3rd Down Conversion %

37.27% (92nd)

36.84% (39th)

3rd Down Conv. % Defense
Red Zone Scoring %

78% (90th)

83% (69th)

Red Zone Defense
Kickoff Return Average

23.74 (26th)

22.56 (80th)

Kickoff Return Avg. Against
Punt Return Average

6.79 (80th)

7.33 (55th)

Punt Return Avg. Against
Points Scored/Game

20.91 (106th)

15.91 (6th)

Points Allowed/Game
Penalties Committed

52 for 452 (22nd)

54 for 460 (48th)

Penalties Committed
Total Defense

287.36 (8th)

479.55 (12th)

Total Offense (yds/gm)
Rushing Defense

127.36 (34th)

245.09 (10th)

Rushing Yards/Game
Passing Defense

160.00 (6th)

234.46 (57th)

Passing Yards/Game
Sacks/Game

2.45 (25th)

1.64 (47th)

Sacks Allowed/Game
Takeaways

25 (14th)

7 (2nd)

Giveaways
3rd Down Conv. % Defense

36.99% (41st)

55.12% (3rd)

3rd Down Conversion %
Red Zone Defense

92% (115th)

95% (4th)

Red Zone Scoring %
Kickoff Return Avg. Against

21.69 (66th)

20.06 (91st)

Kickoff Return Average
Punt Return Avg. Against

7.54 (61st)

15.94 (5th)

Punt Return Average
Points Allowed/Game

13.00 (3rd)

44.82 (5th)

Points Scored/Game

How I See It:

I believe this game will come down to what Penn State’s lackluster offense is able to do against a stout Wisconsin defense.  It will be a close game in the first half with these teams separated by only a field goal as they head into their respective locker rooms.  However, the physical exertion required of Penn State’s defense to keep the game close will eventually wear them down making them susceptible to big plays.  In the end the Badgers’ offense will prove to be too difficult to contain for an entire 60 minutes.

 Penn State 20 Wisconsin 31

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