October 09, 2010

Minnesota (1-4, 0-1) at Wisconsin (4-1, 0-1) preview

Minnesota's struggles this season have been well documented. They won their first game at FCS school Middle Tennessee State on a late touchdown in the fourth quarter and followed that up with a loss at home to even lowlier South Dakota. They put up a fight against USC at home, but then fell to Northern Illinois, again at home. They played a surprisingly good game against Northwestern in the last of their streak of home games, losing 29-28.

Minnesota QB Adam Weber seems like he's been around forever, and I've always thought he was one of the most underrated QBs in the Big 10. The problem is that he's never had anyone else to help him on offense. He had a nice breakout season, throwing for nearly 2900 yards passing and 24 TDs (to 19 INTs). He also put up 600+ yards on the ground. The big problem has been protection. He was only sacked 13 times in his freshman year. In his sophomore and junior years he was sacked 31 and 38 times respectively, and not surprisingly his TDs went down and his rushing yards went WAY down. He still has it in him to be an elite mobile QB but he has to stay on his feet and have someone to throw to.

Apparently the "y" at the beginning of the group was in the bathroom. (h/t to B5Q for the pic and the joke

Who had the axe?
Minnesota won the axe on the strength of running back duo Lawrence Maroney and Marion Barber III in 2001 and 2003. They also should have won it in 2005, when the trailing Badgers blocked a punt late in the 4th quarter to take a miraculous lead. Since then, it's been all Badgers.

How Minnesota wins
Adam Weber has a big game, Watt and Nzegwu get injured, and the Badger offense comes down with some kind of virus overnight. So there's a chance...

A little more seriously, for Minnesota to win Wisconsin really has to beat itself. If we see a repeat of the shenanigans we saw in the ASU and SJSU game, especially as regards to special teams, Minnesota could find themselves in this.

How Wisconsin wins
Watt and Nzegwu tear up Minny's O-line, St. Jean and the linebackers contain Weber, and Bielema runs a steady diet of James White, John Clay, and Montee Ball (once the game is well in hand). Minnesota has been equally poor on defense against both the run and the pass.

Prediction: Minnesota 13 - 38 UW

Go Badgers!