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Detroit News scouting report: Wisconsin at Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

No. 13 Wisconsin at Michigan

Kickoff: 7:30 Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV/radio: ABC/950

Records: Wisconsin 1-0; Michigan 1-2

Line: Wisconsin by 4.5

Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News breaks down the Wolverines’ Week 4 matchup with Wisconsin:

Wisconsin's Graham Mertz

Key matchup

WISCONSIN OFFENSIVE LINE VS. MICHIGAN DEFENSIVE LINE

Wisconsin’s offensive line traditionally big, tough and capable of bludgeoning defensive lines to make room for the Badgers backs, lost three of five starters from last season and needed to refurbish the interior coming into the season. Don’t expect the Wisconsin offensive line to be anything less than it typically is, which could mean a big problem for the Michigan defensive line, which took a major hit last week when starting defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was lost for the season the first series of the game when he suffered a broken ankle. Starting end Kwity Paye left the game late in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury, so his availability will be vital if the Wolverines are going to able to defend the run and rush quarterback Graham Mertz.

Subscribers: Wojo's Pigskin Picks: Can anyone in Michigan reverse our football misery?

Badgers to watch

Graham Mertz, QB: The redshirt freshman shared Big Ten offensive player of the week honors after his debut as a starter in the season opener against Illinois. Mertz was elevated to starter when 14-game starter Jack Coan suffered a foot injury in camp. In the opener, Mertz was 20-for-21 for 248 yards and five touchdowns. He matched single-game school records for touchdown passes and consecutive completions (17) while breaking the school record for completion percentage (95.2%). Mertz was the third FBS player in the last 25 seasons to post at least five TD passes and complete at least 95% of his passes in a game.

Jack Sanborn, LB: Sanborn, a junior inside linebacker, who started all 14 games last season, was the Badgers’ leading tackler. Sanborn had 80 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2019. He also tied for the team lead with three sacks, and he had three pass breakups. He is the vocal leader of the Badgers’ defense.

Jake Ferguson, TE: Ferguson, a junior, caught a career-high seven passes for 72 yards and had a career-best three TDs in the opener against Illinois. He is the 9th player in Badgers’ history to catch at least three touchdowns in one game and the third tight end in the last 50 years. Ferguson has caught at least one pass in each of his 28 career games, which matches the seventh-longest active streak by an FBS player.

More: Michigan mailbag: Breaking down the possible root causes of Wolverines' problems

Facts and figures

►Wisconsin has won four of its last six meetings with Michigan, and a win over the Wolverines would be the fourth time in series history the Badgers have won in consecutive seasons. Wisconsin is seeking its first win at the Big House since 2010 — Michigan has won the two meetings at Michigan Stadium since then.

►The Badgers have only played one game this season, and against Illinois, the Wisconsin defense didn’t allow a score — the Illini’s only touchdown came on a fumble recovery — marking the fifth time in Wisconsin’s last 15 games that an opponent failed to score any offensive points. The Badgers have held an opponent without an offensive touchdown 13 times since defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard joined the coaching staff in 2016.

►Wisconsin held Illinois to just 218 yards and only eight first downs. Those totals were the fewest by a Badgers Big Ten opponent since Michigan State totaled just 149 yards and seven first downs last season.

Subscribers:Detroit News predictions: Wisconsin at Michigan

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis