BY DAN GARCIA
This Saturday we will be traveling to Madison, WI for our launch of The Early Registration Sports, as the Wisconsin Badgers will take on the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks in hopes to bounce back from their 35-17 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide last week. After years of scheduling confidence building season openers against unranked non-conference opponents, Wisconsin is now returning to Camp Randall Stadium for their second consecutive home opener, 0-1, after their new model of opening their season with challenging opponents on the road.
In 2014, the Badgers had to bounce back from a heartbreaking 28-24 loss to LSU in Houston, TX. That year they were able to quickly get their spirits high again as Wisconsin dominated Western Illinois, 37-3, only giving up 162 yards of total offence. This week, the Badgers hope to repeat their return to Madison, this time against the Miami University RedHawks.
Although Miami (Ohio) is going into the game after a convincing, 26-7, win over Presbyterian last Saturday, all signs point to a Wisconsin victory.
Wisconsin is looking for their 20th straight home opener win and their 33rd straight home win (T-6th with Virginia Tech ’99-’09) over a non-conference opponent. And of their non-conference games, the Badgers have done particularly well against the Mid-American Conference, having not lost to the conference since 1988, before any of either teams’ student-athletes were born.
Although a miracle win over the stronger opponents in Wisconsin is unlikely, Miami (Ohio) could not ask for better settings going into Camp Randall. Kicking off his second year as head coach, Miami’s Chuck Martin just saw his team have their best rushing performance under his watch as head coach, with 205 yards rushing against Presbyterian. Freshman Alonzo Smith, the new number one rushing option for the RedHawks, ran for 86 yards with two scores.
To go with Miami’s impressive rushing efforts, Wisconsin is coming off a disappointing defensive effort against Alabama, giving up 238 rushing yards and 4 rushing scores. Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst was disappointed in his front 7, counting 17 missed tackles against the Crimson Tide. To make matter worse, going into Week 2, UW team captain Michael Caputo’s status is still up in the air after leaving the Alabama game early with a concussion.
Don’t let Wisconsin’s defensive struggles and Miami’s new rushing confidence fool you though, Wisconsin is clearly the bigger and better team, with a front seven that shadows over that of Presbyterian. Wisconsin did not schedule itself against Alabama on the road at “Jerry’s World” to get a easy win, they did it to get better and answer the team’s tough questions early in the season. Despite an opening loss, it’s how the Badgers respond, make adjustments, and move forward that will determine their fate later in the year.
After facing Alabama, one of the nation’s top teams, the 24th ranked Wisconsin Badgers should have no problem dominating Miami (Ohio) throughout four quarters after competing with Alabama in the first half. Simply put, a competitive Big 10 program should easily handle a Mid-American team, especially at home. The Badger are not only looking to win this Saturday, and to return to .500, but they are hoping to do it in a convincing fashion to erase any offensive and defensive doubts that were picked up last week in Arlington.
Prediction: Wisconsin 42, Miami (Ohio) 7
Game time: Saturday, September 12, 11:00 AM CT on ESPNU; Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI (Buy Tickets)