Linebacker T.J. Edwards can’t mask the frustration that remains from Wisconsin’s seven-point loss to Michigan last season.
Michigan entered the game ranked No. 4 in the polls and averaging 52.0 points per game.
Eighth-ranked UW held the Wolverines 38 points shy of their scoring average but left Michigan Stadium with a 14-7 loss.
Edwards remembers how Michigan’s offense set the tone early, a development that should leave any linebacker seething.
“I think early on we weren’t as physical as them,” the junior said. “They were kind of moving the ball and doing some good things, to be honest with you.
“They missed a couple kicks and that’s why the game was close at the start.”
The Wolverines drove 11 plays and 77 yards for a touchdown on their second possession for a 7-0 lead.
They mixed passes and runs effectively. Quarterback Wilton Speight hit 4 of 5 attempts for 38 yards and the Wolverines rushed six times for 39 yards.
The Wolverines scored just once more—on a 46-yard touchdown pass with 7 minutes 56 seconds remaining in the game—but they saw three possessions end with missed field goals and outgained UW, 349-159.
Edwards doesn’t want to see a similar script unfold Saturday. In his opinion, UW’s defense needs to set the tone from the opening series, as it did last week in holding Iowa to 66 yards on 50 plays.
“We just have to come out with an edge,” Edwards said. “I think these past couple weeks from Sunday we’ve been ready to go. We’re going to have to do that even more to beat these guys.
“That’s something from that first snap that has to get done because they’re a team that will push you around if you let them. We can’t let them do that.”
Michigan (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) brings a simple but effective game plan—and a three-game winning streak—to Camp Randall Stadium for its Big Ten battle with UW (10-0, 7-0).
The Wolverines have run the ball a combined 126 times for 865 yards, an average of 6.9 yards per carry, and 11 touchdowns in their last three games.
That surge—against Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland—has allowed Michigan to move up to No. 3 in the Big Ten in rushing in league games (211.4 ypg).
“The last three or four weeks they’ve decided they want to run big-boy football,” UW senior outside linebacker Garret Dooley said. “They’re going to come out with extra tackles, three tight ends and they’re going to try to run the ball.
“We’ve got to have to get them into third and long or force three-and-outs because they focus on playing good defense and controlling the clock. We have to make sure we get our offense on the field.”
Michigan redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters has benefited from the efficient ground game.
Peters, who came on in relief of John O’Korn at Rutgers, has completed 27 of 45 attempts (60 percent) for 325 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions during the streak.
“You just see how effective they are running the ball right now,” UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said. “Teams have not made Peters beat them. Not that he can’t. Nobody has been able to make him assume that role on the team. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“They’re running the football. They’ve got great running backs, great O-line, tight ends, fullbacks … a lot of different personnel groups. They’re doing it extremely well. You have to try to make a team one-dimensional and obviously, they want to run the football right now.”
When the teams met last season, Michigan finished with an edge in plays run (76-53), first downs (21-8) and time of possession (35:41-24:19).
Senior cornerback Derrick Tindal believes UW’s defense is ready to carry the fight to Michigan this time.
“I expect them to come in here and try to outmuscle us,” he said. “Usually when people go to Michigan they automatically assume they’re better. They don’t respect us too much. I think they’ll expect to come in and just run all over us.
“I expect them to try to attack us at DB, try to make us tackle. I’ve got no problem with that. That is the biggest thing I like about our DBs.
“None of them are scared to tackle. All of us will stick our head in there and get a little dirty.”