That Michigan is ranked No. 4 heading into Saturday's game against Wisconsin is not a surprise. But Wisconsin's No. 8 ranking certainly is, after the Badgers tore through a difficult opening schedule to get to 4-0.
It's the second week in a row that Wisconsin's played in Michigan, having dominated Michigan State in East Lansing a week ago. (It's the fifth week in a row Michigan has played in Michigan, because that's where the Wolverines play.) It's the second Big Ten game for both, and a really good East-West crossover match at that. It should be fun.
Michigan is favored, and our writing staff is fairly certain the Wolverines will win at home. A Badgers victory would be another surprise, but at some point, such things should probably stop taking us aback. A win at Michigan could accelerate that timeline quite a bit as both teams get deeper into Big Ten play.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 3:30 p.m., ABC. The broadcasters are Steve Levy or Dave Flemming, Brian Griese, and Todd McShay.
Radio: Wisconsin and Michigan.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Michigan opened as a 10-point favorite.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at Bucky's 5th Quarter (for Badgers fans) and Maize N Brew (for Michigan fans).
Three big things to know
1. Both defenses are elite, but only Michigan's offense is. And that's where the Wolverines' primary advantage lies. Neither team is giving up more than 13.8 points per game, and neither's outside the top 12 in total defense or the top six in Defensive S&P+. But Wisconsin doesn't score or move the ball like Michigan, which has scored 52 points per game to Wisconsin's 31. If there's a shootout to be had here, Michigan's going to win.
2. This is a huge test for Alex Hornibrook. The redshirt freshman took over for Bart Houston to start Wisconsin's game at Michigan State, and he acquitted himself nicely (if not prolifically) against a good defense: 16-of-26 passing for 195 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Michigan's a different beast, and Hornibrook will have to contend with an athletic front and a secondary that includes Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis. That's a pretty big ask.
3. Michigan's owned Wisconsin historically. The all-time series mark is 49-14-1 for Michigan, including wins in seven of the last 11. But zoom in a bit, and the Badgers have done way better. Wisconsin's taken four of the last six and two in a row, marking a pretty dramatic shift in a series that had been totally one-sided since starting up in 1892. That's a long time ago.