ESPN's FPI predicts outcome of Wisconsin-Rutgers game
The Wisconsin Badgers are surging. With a rediscovered ground game and fewer turnovers, the Badgers have ripped off 4 straight wins. None bigger, though, than a 27-7 win over then-9th-ranked Iowa last Saturday in Madison.
Up to 5-3 now on the season and 3-2 in conference play, the Badgers are back into the thick of the Big Ten West divisional race. They’ll look to stay on track this week with a trip to Piscataway on tap. ESPN’s FPI has good news for the Badgers: a projected win percentage of 68.3% over the Scarlet Knights (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten).
Rutgers got its first conference win of the season last week against Illinois, 20-14. The ground game carried the day. Running back Isaih Pacheco had 91 yards to lead the squad, Kyle Monangai added 77 and a score on 15 carries, and quarterback Noah Vedral supplied 56 yards and another score on 6 carries. In total, the Scarlet Knights outrushed Illinois 230-107 and held a 10-minute edge in time of possession.
It’s a tried and true method in the Big Ten—run the ball, control the clock, get out with a win. But maybe no one team has embodied that more in recent memory than Wisconsin.
With a gunslinger at quarterback in Graham Mertz, the Badgers got away from their roots a bit early in the year. Mertz attempted 20 throws in each of his first 4 games (3 of them losses) and threw 8 interceptions. In his last 4 games, though, Mertz has gone over 20 pass attempts just once—the win over Iowa in which he threw the ball 22 times.
In turn, the Badgers have leaned on the ground game. They have at least 150 rushing yards in four straight, including performances of 391 and 297 yards against Illinois and Purdue.
The two face off Saturday in what will be just the fourth meeting all-time between the 2 programs and the first since 2018. Wisconsin has won all 3 games. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN.