Penn State and Wisconsin have had drastically different seasons so far. Wisconsin entered the year as one of the favorites to win the big ten and a trendy pick to play for the national title. Penn State entered the year as the fourth best team in conference and with no chance of winning a national title. Six weeks later, Penn State is ranked 6th in the nation and the Badgers are the 25th or 26th best team in the country depending on who you ask. The Lions have handled Illinois and Purdue in conference play where as Wisconsin had an embarrassing loss to Michigan and then got Pryoritized the following week. We will find out which team is actually better on saturday night, however, we can content ourselves with comparing the two teams on paper.
Penn State is scoring over 44 points per game and the Lions rank as the ninth best offense in college football. The Lions are a very balanced football team offensively as rushing yards account for 51% of PSU's total offense on 60% of all the play calls. Considering how many large leads Penn State has had this year, this leads me to believe that the nittany Lions are equally ready to run or pass the ball on any given play. This will make Penn State quite the challenge for the Badgers.
PSU's defense is giving up less than 12 points per game and is the eighth best defense in the nation. Penn State benefits from a relatively soft early schedule (though Or.SU and Illinois seem legitimate) to keep the numbers down. While this defense is not invincible it certainly is sturdy. The Lion's are only allowing 2.5 yds/rush this year but the Badgers will press the issue with a fairly potent rushing attack.
The Badgers are scoring 29 points per game but rank 43d in the nation in total offense (right behind Tulane and Baylor). Wisconsin's attack will be run heavy as the Badgers rush for 53% of all their yards and nearly two out of every three plays (64%) from scrimmage are a running play.
The Badgers are giving up 18 points per game and rank 31st in the nation in total defense. I realize Wisconsin just played Ohio State but Penn State will be their biggest test defensively this year.
The key for the Badgers is to get an early lead and then grind it out with the Lions. The doomsday scenario for Wisconsin is if PSU takes an early lead of 14 or more points. This would make the Badgers turn to the air. If PSU can get Wisconsin away from the ground game the day will belong to PSU.
GO STATE! BEAT THE BADGERS!
I got all my stats from cfbstats.com