We’re about 27 hours from kickoff and it’s almost time to “Jump Around” like they do at Camp Randall Stadium.
Michigan State is 4-4 and will be trying to avoid a third straight loss when it visits Wisconsin on Saturday.
And if the past is any indication, the Spartans are in store for another close, tightly contested game. Five of MSU’s games this season have been decided by five points or less. And games against Wisconsin have typically been close.
The Spartans are 3-3 against the Badgers since 2007 with each of the games being decided by less than 10 points. Here is a look at the MSU-Wisconsin series since Mark Dantonio took over as coach.
2007 – Wisconsin 37, MSU 34
2008 – MSU 25, Wisconsin 24
2009 – Wisconsin 38, MSU 30
2010 – MSU 34, Wisconsin 24
2011 – MSU 37, Wisconsin 31
2011 – Wisconsin 42, MSU 39*
*Big Ten championship game
MSU hasn’t visited Camp Randall Stadium since Sept. 26, 2009 when Scott Tolzien passed for four touchdowns in a Badger win. The Spartans have lost three straight games at Camp Randall. Their last victory in Madison was on Oct. 27, 2001 when Jeff Smoker and T.J. Duckett led the Spartans to a 42-28 win.
Wisconsin’s strong combo at tailback in Montee Ball and James White provides a concern for MSU. After struggling early in the season, Wisconsin’s ground attack has picked things up.
“Wisconsin’s running game is a concern, especially with the big offensive line,” MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said in comments released by the Spartan football Twitter feed. “They’re so big up front, they can engulf you.”
That’s where junior middle linebacker Max Bullough figures to be big for the Spartans. Bullough is having a strong season, ranking seventh in the Big Ten with 68 tackles. Bullough has picked things up the last four weeks, finishing with double-digit tackles in three of those games. His play has made him a semifinalist for the Butkus Award and a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
“Max Bullough is a great football player. He’s playing so much better than he did a year ago,” Narduzzi said. “Max is playing with a lot more power and confidence. Mentally, he’s a genius. He knows how to get everybody lined up. With all of the in-game adjustments Max makes on the fly, it like having a computer play middle linebacker.”
Offensively, Aaron Burbridge continues to make a big impact. He enters Saturday’s game, leading the Big Ten in receptions per game (6.3) in conference play and second in receiving yards per game (91.3).
“Aaron Burbridge has exceptional ball skills, and he catches the ball naturally,” MSU offensive coordinator Dan Roushar said in remarks released by the official Spartan football Twitter feed. “Like B.J. (Cunningham), Aaron competes the same way on the practice field as he does on game day.”
For Saturday’s game, fifth-year senior Tyler Hoover will serve as MSU’s fourth captain.
Also football related, Solari writes that the Spartans will need another strong defensive effort against the Badgers.
In other links, the MSU hockey team seeks an improved CCHA start. From Big Ten basketball media day, Graham Couch writes about the conference being excited its hoops season after disappointment on the football field and there’s also a piece on women’s basketball player Klarissa Bell, who is looking to regain her “scorer’s mentality.” And MSU is hosting the Big Ten cross country championships this weekend and prep editor Dick Hoekstra previews the event, which features former local prep standout Maverick Darling running for Wisconsin.