Andy Manis, AP
Wisconsin running back Bradrick Shaw runs past Utah State’s Ja’Marcus Ingram during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Projected score: Wisconsin 31, BYU 14
The Wisconsin Badgers couldn’t have come to Provo at a worse time for BYU. Reeling from two consecutive defeats with little to no offense, BYU will try to right the ship against a top 10 team. Here’s a breakdown of BYU’s chances of doing so.
When BYU has the ball
BYU is one of the worst offenses in college football right now. One USA Today sportswriter described it as a “disgrace” this week. BYU fans would likely agree. BYU runs and passes the ball with equal ineffectiveness.
It could get worse this week if rumors that starting quarterback Tanner Mangum will not play because of a sprained ankle are true. Backup Beau Hoge is more of a runner than Mangum, so it will be interesting to see if that spices up an otherwise moribund offense.
It won’t be an easy task against one of the top defenses in the nation. Wisconsin’s defense is not as good as LSU’s, but it is still in elite company. Although it’s not a big play defense, it is efficient against both the pass and the run. Wisconsin boasts the best linebacking corps in the nation and a near-elite secondary. However, the Badgers are weaker along the defensive line.
When Wisconsin has the ball
BYU has a solid “bend-but-don’t-break” defense that has big-play potential. It is better against the run than it is the pass. BYU’s strength will be tested against a Wisconsin offense that is above average overall and explosive in the run game.
Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor has over 300 yards rushing already, and he’s averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Junior Chris James is no slouch in the backfield either.
The Wisconsin pass game is only slightly above average. Sophomore quarterback Alex Homibrook is tall at 6-4, and he is efficient. Interestingly, Homibrook’s top target in the pass game is tight end Tony Fumagalli, and it’s not even close. However, Homibrook spreads the ball around to the other receivers, as he has thrown to 12 different receivers…