Breaking it down: Wisconsin looking to continue epic home winning streak
Who: Hawaii vs. No. 22 Wisconsin
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. CT
Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison
Spread: Wisconsin -24.5
Matchup to watch: Max Wittek vs. Wisconsin linebackers
Outside of Ohio State, there might not be a better group of linebackers in the B1G than Wisconsin’s. Vince Biegel is the household name, Joe Schobert has played like a B1G Defensive Player of the Year, and freshman Chris Orr is coming off the best game of his young career. They’ll face USC transfer Max Wittek, who is in his first year starting at Hawaii after sitting out the 2014 season. The 6-4, 240-pound signal-caller isn’t the most mobile, which means former Hawaii defensive coordinator Dave Aranda shouldn’t have to waste one of his linebackers on a spy. The strategy to shut him down should look awfully similar to what the Ohio State group did, which was blitz and get pressure of the blindside. Biegel and Schobert could be in for a monster day if Hawaii hasn’t improved its blitz pickup.
Thing I’m excited for: Big-play Badgers
I said last week that while I was impressed with Joel Stave’s rediscovered accuracy, I was expecting the Troy game to be his first chance to really air it out. It was. We saw a beautiful deep ball to a wide-opened Austin Traylor that set up a score. We saw perhaps the most impressive drive of Stave’s career, which started off with four straight completions and three that were 20-plus yards. He capped it off with an uncharacteristic scramble and hurdle into the end zone for his first rushing score in two years. With all the talk this week surrounding Corey Clement’s sports hernia surgery, this offense has shown it can still dial up big-play offense. Hawaii is far more talented on defense than Troy. Just look how much the Rainbow Warriors frustrated Ohio State in Columbus. Still, this is another game in which we should see Wisconsin try and hit a few home runs early.
Number to remember: 34
That’s how many straight non-conference home games the Badgers have won. That’s the eighth longest streak in NCAA history. Cupcakes or not, that’s impressive. You don’t go into Camp Randall and steal games. It just doesn’t happen. Hawaii has the athletes to hang with a team like Wisconsin if the Badgers aren’t clicking offensively, but anyone predicting an upset in Madison is going out on a serious limb.
Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Hawaii 7
That’s my way of saying there’s no chance I’m picking against the Badgers.