Wisconsin may not have a ton more than pride to play for on Saturday, but don't expect them to lay down for Penn State on Senior Day either. This is a game that matters for the Badgers in many ways - both on and off the field. Heck, there's even been open talk of making this a trophy game.
Penn State may not be able to make a bowl game appearance, but a chance to send the Senior class, that all stuck around, out as winners in their final home game is going to be paramount. Expect the Nittany Lions to have a lot on the line.
Having said all of that, what are we going to be watching for this Saturday?
1) Ball's Record: Penn State has been pretty decent against the run, giving up just the 5th most yards a game, but for Ball it's all about the win and the all-time TD record as well. He could look to take this team on his back like he did in the 2nd half against the Buckeyes. Expect him to break this record early on in this game - I'm thinking 1st quarter.
2) Phillips' Improvement: Last weekend we saw Curt Phillips come up clutch against the Buckeyes and it was just another showing of how much he's becoming comfortable in the starting role at QB. However, he got off to just a 4-11 start. This week another sign of improvement would be being more accurate in the passing game early on. If he can build off of the late performance last week then there should be no worries about him at QB moving forward.
3) Stopping PSU's rushing attack: This may sound a bit crazy to put as a thing to watch, but Penn State has really found something in the backfield during the Big Ten season. They are averaging 152.6 yards a game in Big Ten play alone and while the Badgers are the 3rd ranked defense against the rush in Big Ten games it's still something to watch for, especially if Chris Borland is a no go again this week. PSU running back Zach Zwinak averages over 100 yards rushing in Big Ten play and he presents a different style of running than the Badgers have seen all season.
4) The Abbrederis Effect: Wisconsin's offense has seen less and less of the deep ball connections over the course of the Big Ten season and while some of that has to do with the fact that Stave is no longer behind center it also has to do with the fact that no other deep threat outside of Abbrederis has emerged. Wisconsin needs to find ways to get him more involved in offense and it may well be finding ways to use him on flanker screens and even more play-action passes to find him open. If Abbrederis is a factor on Saturday that bodes well for Wisconsin's chances of winnings.
5) Devin Smith & Co.: Penn State features the league's best passing QB in Matt McGloin and the best wide receiver in the conference in Allen Robinson. That means a lot of pressure will be on cornerback Devin Smith against Robinson, but it also means the rest of the backfield needs to step up as well. Wisconsin proved that it can do that last week by limiting a very potent Ohio State attack, but can they keep it up for a 2nd straight week? They'll need to find a way to keep Robinson as well as the tight ends in check or it'll be a long Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley for Bucky.