The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-4, 1-3) will travel to face the Wisconsin Badgers (6-2, 3-1) in a Big Ten Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Wisconsin won the only matchup between the two teams as they walloped Rutgers 37-0 on the road as a 12.5 point favorite on November 1, 2014.
Rutgers was mauled 48-7 at home by #1 Ohio State last week for their fourth loss in six games. Wisconsin won their third straight and sixth in the last seven games as they clipped Illinois 24-13 on the road. This game kicks off from Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin at 12:00 pm ET and will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Wisconsin is currently a 20.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 51.5 points in this contest.
Rutgers was decimated by Ohio State as they fell behind 21-0 at the half and 42-0 after three quarters. The Scarlet Knights narrowly avoided the shutout as their lone touchdown came with 13 seconds to play in the game. Rutgers was outgained 528-293 and gave up 27 first downs while picking up only 12; both teams committed a turnover in the contest. The Scarlet Knights also came up on the short end of the time of possession battle as the Buckeyes held the ball for 32:40 to Rutgers’ 27:20 in the contest.
The Scarlet Knights have a decent offense as they are 54th in the nation in passing (241 yards per game) and 45th in rushing (185.6 yards per contest) while they average 30 points per game; Rutgers is currently 96th in scoring defense by giving up 32 points per game, leaving them with a -2 point differential per game. Chris Laviano is hitting 67.2 percent (125 of 186) of his throws for 1,505 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Hayden Rettig is the backup quarterback and has hit 12 of 18 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns. Josh Hicks is second on the team with 84 carries for 439 yards and four scores; Robert Martin (77 carries, team high 480 yards, 4 TD) and Paul James (58 carries, 341 yards, TD) help shoulder the load as well on the ground. Janarion Grant is third on the team for Rutgers in receptions with 19 catches for 170 yards along with Leonte Carroo (team high 24 grabs, team high 527 yards, 9 TD); Andre Patton contributes 23 grabs for 307 yards plus a touchdown and Matt Flanagan (10 receptions, 93 yards, 3 TD) is a decent target as well. Kyle Federico is 22 of 25 on extra points and five of seven field goals this year.
Wisconsin was down 13-10 midway through the third quarter and was minus their starting quarterback but Bart Houston rallied the Badgers to a win. The Badgers outgained the Fighting Illini 419-333 in the contest and picked up 23 first downs while limiting Illinois to 15. Both teams committed a pair of turnovers and Wisconsin dominated the time of possession as they held the ball for 40:09 while limiting the Fighting Illini to 19:51 in the contest.
The Badgers have put up an average of 254.8 yards per game through the air (42nd in the nation) and 152.5 yards per contest on the ground, which is 89th in the nation. Wisconsin is putting up 26 points per game and rank 2nd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 11.1 points per game. The Badgers are still running the ball more than 50 percent of the time but not nearly as effective or as prolific as in recent years: they have 300 rushing attempts and 285 passes so far this season. Joel Stave has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,757 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He sustained a concussion against Illinois but thinks he will play; if not, Houston (27 of 42, 281 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) would get the call. With Corey Clement out after sports hernia surgery, it’s the duo of Taiwan Deal (81 carries, 357 yards, 4 TD) and Dare Ogunbowale (111 carries, 524 yards, 4 TD) working as a 1-2 combination. Alex Erickson leads the Badgers with 52 catches for 645 yards and two scores; he dealt with a concussion earlier in the year. That means Robert Wheelwright (28 receptions, 369 yards, 4 TD), Austin Traylor (10 receptions, 156 yards, 3 TD) and Derek Watt (11 grabs, 95 yards) will need to step up. Ogbunwale has reeled in 25 balls out of the backfield as a safety valve. Rafael Gaglianone has hit all 23 extra points but is only 11 of 18 on field goals with a long of 46.
Wisconsin is 17-6 ATS in their last 23 home games against teams with a losing road record and 5-2 ATS in their last seven against teams with a losing record and 5-2 ATS in their last seven after allowing less than 100 yards on the ground. Rutgers is 2-5 ATS in their last seven after allowing at least 40 points and 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 after a double digit loss at home.
The Badgers are a tough team to figure out as they aren’t running as well as they have in previous seasons but they’re having success anyway. Rutgers was terrible against Ohio State and they’re not all that good on the road either. The Badgers should win this one rather convincingly as the Scarlet Knights continue to struggle on both sides of the ball.