Five Keys to Victory: Penn State
Reviewing BadgerNation's keys to the Ohio State game demonstrates why the Badgers came up on the short end, despite being very competitive with the undefeated Buckeyes. The offensive line held its own as Montee Ball gained 191 yards and the defense kept Braxton Miller in check. However the kicking game let down that Badgers against a top foe and Curt Phillips was not quite sharp enough to convert a large advantage in yardage gained to points on the board. On to the final regular season game against Penn State. 1, Everybody's Bowl Game Emotions will certainly play a big part in the final game of the regular season for these two teams. Penn State is not eligible for post season play, and won't be for an additional three seasons. This game provides the Nittany Lions with a chance to put a good ending on a very challenging season. Meanwhile, though they are guaranteed a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship game, the Badgers also need to focus in on a win to enhance their standing for other bowl games. Can the drive to achieve the touchdown record for Montee Ball add an edge for Wisconsin? Penn State has rallied since a difficult start to the season, the difficult to quantify emotional factor seems to favor PSU. 2, The Badger Running Game vs PSU The UW offensive line has come together after a bizarre start to the season. Against Ohio State, the Badgers running game actually gained more yardage than it did against Ohio State in the 2010 victory at Camp Randall. Furthermore, Penn State star linebacker Michael Mauti will most likely not play. The Badgers should be able to run the ball. 3, The Badger Passing Game Can QB Curt Phillips be more effective on third down? Can UW receivers hold on to the ball when Phillips gets it there in time? The Badgers lost several key scoring opportunities against Ohio State by not holding on to catchable passes. That isn't a winning formula on the road against Penn State. 4, Tossing A Shutout? If the offense is not more efficient on third downs, it will fall to the defense to win the game. It almost did so against Ohio State. The Badgers defense, even without middle linebacker Chris Borland, matches up very well against a PSU team led by a second echelon QB -- Matt McGloin. All season McGloin has shown a tendency to under throw routes. Badgers defensive backs Dez Southward, Devin Smith and Shelton Johnson have been increasing their interception totals as the season goes on. If the Badgers can shut down PSU's running game, a few key interceptions can make up for a sputtering Badgers offense. 5, The Badger Kicking Game This looks to be another close game for the Badgers and the kicking game will play another big part. Failures in this area were very costly against Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan State. Head coach Bret Bielema needs the confidence to attempt field goals from the 30 and the Badger place kicker, Kyle French, needs to provide it. Punter Drew Meyer has had a fine freshman season, but his poor punt set up an easy touchdown return for the Buckeyes. That can't happen against PSU if the Badgers expect to win a close game. Fearless Prediction: This game looks to be very close, with Penn State winning 21-20.