After a terrible loss to Michigan State and a lopsided loss to Indiana, Michigan finds itself at 1-2 and as a five-point underdog against Wisconsin inside Michigan Stadium.
After seeing what Michigan State and Indiana did to Michigan's defense, you can almost guarantee that Wisconsin is going to dial up some of the same kinds of plays on offense. If Don Brown still hasn't learned his lesson, it's going to be another long Saturday for Michigan fans.
This one is a total mystery. By the time the Badgers take the field on Saturday night, it will have been 22 days since their last game (a 45-7 blowout win against Illinois in week one). There’s no telling what kind of Badger team we’ll see on Saturday, but they certainly have enough talent to compete with the Wolverines one way or another.
On the other side, Michigan is a team that looks utterly lost on both sides of the ball. The defense, particularly the secondary, is developing a habit of making relatively average quarterbacks look like All-Americans. Offensively, the lack of a consistent running game is putting all of the pressure on Joe Milton to make (and force) plays with his arm. I’m tempted to pick Michigan as they play in the comfort of their own stadium, but the last two weeks have left me with zero confidence that they can even compete with a team that has essentially been in isolation for three weeks.
Wisconsin 31, Michigan 20
After last week's performance, I said that I wouldn't be duped again, and I'm sticking to that.
Michigan hasn't shown enough ability or consistency on either side of the ball to beat a team with pulse and Wisconsin's is strong even after not playing for two weeks. Even if quarterback Graham Mertz is out, Wisconsin will likely be able to run the ball behind its massive and effective offensive line, and its defense is always up to the task. With Michigan floundering too much on offense, this just doesn't feel like a game the Wolverines can win.
Unless Don Brown has completely reinvented his defense and Josh Gattis has gotten more creative as a player caller, among other things, Michigan is going to come up short again.
Wisconsin 31, Michigan 23
This game has a lot of question marks, but one thing we know is Michigan has looked dreadful on defense the past two weeks. Wisconsin hasn't played in two weeks, but was dominant in their opener. However, as we've seen from the Wolverines, season-openers can be deceiving. Still, with Aiden Hutchinson and Kwity Paye both out for Michigan and the well-documented struggles in the secondary, it's hard to imagine the Wolverines having success defensively. Joe Milton and the offense will need to put up points, and we haven't seen enough consistency on that side of the ball from Michigan. The Wolverines keep it close, but fall short.
Wisconsin 34, Michigan 27
Before the season even started, staying healthy and working with a mostly full roster was the goal for every team in the Big Ten. Now that the injury bug has hit Michigan, the deeper names on U-M’s depth chart will be crucial. The Wolverines have starters dinged up on both sides of the line, but Wisconsin is not without question marks either— namely at quarterback. If Graham Mertz plays on Saturday, the Wisconsin offense will likely fare much better. However, the Badgers have had quite a bit of time off, so they might be rusty upon retaking the field this weekend too.
Given all that uncertainty, I think Wisconsin will pull out a close victory, one that will feel much more competitive than last weekend’s showing against the Hoosiers.
Wisconsin 38, Michigan 28
Considering Wisconsin has not played a game in over three weeks and has had limited practice time due to COVID outbreaks within the team, Michigan should have the edge. However, even despite the rust the Badgers may show on Saturday night, they will defeat the Wolverines.
Led by their freshman quarterback Graham Mertz, Wisconsin still has hopes of making the College Football Playoff and making a Big Ten title game, while Michigan does not. The Wolverines opponents have simply played with more passion than them the last two weeks, and I don’t expect that to change this week. The Wolverines have shown no signs of turning their season around, so I’m done believing they will do so. The fiery Jim Harbaugh that was brought to Michigan looks defeated, and the lack of energy from him and his team will lead to another disappointing loss.
Wisconsin 34, Michigan 21