The Capital One Bowl Game of the Week is a preview of a pivotal matchup featuring teams from the Big Ten and/or SEC that could impact the bowl picture.
#9 Wisconsin (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at #21 Michigan State (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Oct. 2 ï¿½- 3:30 p.m.
Spartan Stadium – East Lansing, Mich. (ABC)
Wisconsin leads series 21-17
Last Meeting: Sept. 26, 2009 (Wisconsin 38, Michigan State 30)
The Badgers are 4-0 with wins over UNLV, San Jose State, Arizona State and Austin Peay. In these four games, only one has been decided by less than a touchdown (Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 19). Last week, Wisconsin posted a 70-3 win over Austin Peay, setting a school record for most points in a game. Wisconsinï¿½s defense held the Governors to only eight first downs and 157 offensive yards in the win. Freshman James White ran in four touchdowns in the contest and joins Heisman winner Ron Dayne (1996-99) as the only other Badger to do so in their debut season.
Running back John Clay has already tallied six scores and 501 yards on the ground. Scott Tolzien currently ranks eighth among the nationï¿½s quarterbacks with his 176.17 rating. He is 64-of-84 this season and in the game against Austin Peay, he passed for 217 yards and three touchdowns through one half of work.
Michigan State Outlook
Michigan State is also undefeated with four wins over Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame and Northern Colorado. This puts the Spartans at 11-1 in non-conference regular season games under head coach Mark Dantonio. The biggest win for Michigan State came in week three when it defeated Notre Dame in overtime, 34-31, on a fake field goal/touchdown pass. The Michigan State offense has scored at least 30 points in all four games this season.
True freshman Leï¿½Veon Bell and sophomore Edwin Baker have combined for 842 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has passed for 869 yards and six touchdowns. Cousins has spread the ball to wide receivers B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin who have both tallied 14 catches this season as well as senior Mark Dell who has 10.
Impact on Bowl Picture
With the start of conference season, six Big Ten teams are currently without a lossï¿½Michigan (4-0), Michigan State (4-0), Northwestern (4-0), Ohio State (4-0), Wisconsin (4-0) and Indiana (3-0).Wisconsin is considered to be a challenger for the Big Ten and with a head-to-head win over Michigan State could continue BCS consideration and a possible Capital One Birth. Michigan State is the lowest ranked Big Ten team and did not have the same expectations as the Badgers coming into the season. However, an upset over Wisconsin could give them momentum through the Spartansï¿½ schedule and put them among the Big Tenï¿½s elite teams. Wisconsin will host Ohio State then travel to Iowa the following weekend. It finishes the season at Michigan and Northwestern at home. Michigan State has the tougher of the two schedules as it avoids Ohio State but plays Michigan, Iowa and Penn State all on the road.
The home team has won the last five meetings between the Spartans and the Badgers (Wisconsin 3, Michigan State 2). Michigan State has not started 4-0 since the 2007 season. That year Wisconsin snapped the Spartans winning streak in week five, 37-34. Wisconsin has started 4-0 five times in the last decade.