Badger fans have been waiting for this game since the day it was announced. After having the 2020 contest postponed, the Wisconsin Badgers finally get their shot at Notre Dame. The game takes place at legendary Soldier Field. If the Badgers want to knock off the 12th ranked Irish, here are the keys to a huge win Saturday
Here's a nugget for Wisconsin v Notre Dame this weekend:
Graham Mertz's inconsistencies have been well-chronicled, while we all know how efficient Jack Coan is with the football.
Mertz's completion% this year: 66.7
((Mertz's AY/A is 4.4 while Coan's is 9.1))
— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) September 22, 2021
I’ll get the obvious out of the way. Graham Mertz doesn’t need to play Heisman football Saturday. However, he can’t play the way he did against Penn State. He has to find a way to keep drives alive, especially on third down. In addition, he needs to consider more than just his first read. Wisconsin has two good receivers in Danny Davis III and Kendric Pryor. He needs to get them involved early and keep them involved.
While an Illinois 2020 performance would be great, a stat line of 220 yards, two touchdowns, and zero turnovers would be more than enough to not only keep the Badgers in this game, but it would give them a good chance to beat Notre Dame.
Put Pressure On Jack Coan
Depth chart for #Badgers this week. ILB Leo Chenal on depth chart as first-teamed. CB Hicks and safety Wilder, who did not play vs. Eastern Michigan, also in depth chart as starters. pic.twitter.com/WU0P09xuE4
— Jake Kocorowski (@JakeKoco) September 20, 2021
The front seven for Wisconsin could be the key to this game. The Badgers get a huge addition back in the lineup in linebacker Leo Chenal. Notre Dame and former Badger Jack Coan is averaging 302 yards a game throwing the ball. If the front seven can’t get pressure on Coan, there’s a good chance he will torch the Wisconsin secondary.
What the Badgers have going for them is this will be one of the best front sevens the Irish will play all season and will be by far the best defense they’ve played to this point. Beating win-less Florida State, a last minute win at home against Toledo, and an at best average Purdue team can’t make Irish fans feel totally comfortable when they see this Badger defense. Both tackle positions have struggled to this point for Notre Dame as well. Look for Noah Burks and Nick Herbig to have big games.
Establish The Run Game
This is a run-first offense and it needs to stay that way. To this point, I like what the Badgers have done with the Mellusi-Berger-Guerendo trio. All three recorded touchdowns two weeks ago. Each player brings something different to the table. The pass game has to be there, but running ball is the Badgers best chance to win.
Notre Dame is also giving up 148.3 yards a game on the ground to this point. Not only will this be the best defense the Irish will face, it’s also the best running game they’ve faced. Look for the Badgers to run the ball, run the ball, and run the ball some more.
Eliminate Red Zone Turnovers
Why did the Badgers lose to Penn State? Red zone turnovers and the inability to put the ball in the end zone. What did the Badger do on their first drive against Eastern Michigan? Red zone turnover.
It’s an easy concept. When Wisconsin gets in the red zone Saturday, they have to end up with 7 points. This could be a low scoring game and possessions will matter. It was the same way with Penn State. Unfortunately, they were careless when they got there.