THE CALL BY JOE CHRISTENSEN • JCHRISTENSEN@STARTRIBUNE.com
Wisconsin has won five consecutive games since a 31-24 loss to Ohio State, all by at least 10 points, and still has hopes of reaching a BCS bowl.
2:30 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: ESPN • Radio: 100.3 FM
Line: Badgers by 16½ • Series: Gophers lead 58-56-4
Gophers offense vs. Badgers defense
Wisconsin has the nation’s fifth-best scoring defense, giving up only 14.0 points per game. The Badgers run a 3-4 scheme (three down linemen, four linebackers), and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda keeps opponents guessing where the pressure will come from. Chris Borland is the best linebacker in the country, Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. Advantage: Badgers
Badgers offense vs. Gophers defense
Wisconsin loves to run the ball behind another huge, technically sound offensive line. The Badgers are the only FBS team with two rushers above 1,000 yards in sophomore Melvin Gordon (1,306) senior James White (1,156). They also have the Big Ten’s fourth-leading receiver in Jared Abbrederis and one of the conference’s top tight ends in Jacob Pedersen. Quarterback Joel Stave has thrown eight interceptions this season. Advantage: Badgers
Kyle French lost his kicking job for the Badgers on Oct. 19 and has since announced he will transfer following the season. Since taking over the job, Jack Russell is 5-for-6 on field-goal attempts, with the only miss coming from 54 yards. The Gophers’ Chris Hawthorne is 12-for-15 on field goals. Advantage: Gophers
It is expected to be the coldest Gophers game in five years at TCF Bank Stadium. The forecast says it will be about 16 degrees at kickoff, with a northwest wind making it feel closer to 5 degrees. Advantage: Gophers
To win, the Gophers need to play above their heads and hope Wisconsin gets rattled with turnovers and mistakes. Under new coach Gary Andersen, the Badgers have been pretty poised. The Gophers have a plus-six turnover margin, but Wisconsin isn’t far behind at plus-four.