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Miami RedHawks vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction

Corey Clement

Corey Clement

Paul Chryst returns to Madison for his first game as the head coach of Wisconsin. Unfortunately for Chryst and the Badgers, it's on the heels of a 35-17 loss to Alabama, where the Badgers rushed for an embarrassing 40 yards on 21 carries. 

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After surrendering 502 yards of total offense to the Crimson Tide, the Badgers have shifted their focus to the RedHawks of Miami (Ohio). The RedHawks head into Madison fresh off a 26-7 victory that showed efficiency in the secondary and a solid running game. Some would consider this a mop-up game after earning their true battle scars in Week 1, but that's not necessarily the case. Last season, Miami was only down 14-10 to Michigan late in the second quarter before putrid turnovers shifted momentum right into the hands of the Wolverines in what ended up as a blowout loss. 

The offensive line and running game were nothing short of embarrassing against Alabama, which is the annual strength of the Badgers. Considering last season tailback Melvin Gordon rushed for 2,587 yards and finished second in the Heisman voting, the fact that it's now a combined weakness is a huge problem for the Badgers in their attempt to return to the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Corey Clement, who some considered a preseason Heisman favorite, rushed for just 16 yards on eight carries, the lowest of his career, who came into the Week 1 contest averaging 7.6 YPC in his career. It's going to be important to get Clement involved early and often to get the rust off his shoulders from the Alabama game. Expect to see his carries pile up early against Miami, and expect him to do some damage on his home field. 

Miami (Ohio) at Wisconsin 

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Station: ESPNU/WATCH ESPN

Odds: Wisconsin -32, O/U 52

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Three Things To Watch For

1. Joel Stave

Stave was fairly impressive against Alabama, totaling 228 yards on 26-of-39 passing against a wildly talented Crimson Tide defense. Though his offensive line wasn't giving up the type of sacks Penn State's offensive line did against Temple, there were times he was put in position to make bad throws, and he survived them. The strength of the RedHawks defense is their secondary, so it will be interesting to see how Stave manages the passing game with the uncertainty of an efficient run game to keep the offense balanced. 

2. Corey Clement 

As mentioned before, Clement's Week 1 performance was damning in more ways than one. It certainly put a damper on any Heisman hopes he had heading into the season, totaling just 15 yards. Clement is a tremendous talent out of the backfield, and this being just his second game as a true starter, expect to see a completely different player than the one you saw under the national spotlight last week. Clement has phenomenal breakaway speed and great vision; both attributes are expected to be on full display during the Badgers' home opener this Saturday. 

3. The Wisconsin offensive line 

Wisconsin's offensive line was just flat-out bad last week. It didn't help that they were going up against one of the nation's most dominating run defenses, and a future Top-10 pick in A'Shawn Robinson. The good news for this young and fairly inexperienced unit is that the road ahead is much less daunting now that Alabama is in their rear-view mirror. Look for Chryst to test his offensive line early with a heavy package of run players and play-action. Nothing creates a strong offensive line like putting them directly in the line of fire. Miami has a weak front-seven, and it's expected that Chryst will attack that weakness early and often. 

Final Analysis

The Badgers are 32-point favorites in this game, and it shouldn't be close at the end. While I don't expect Miami to get shutout and absolutely dominated, I do see Wisconsin running away, literally, with this game during the second half. It wouldn't be surprising to see a close game heading into half time, but it also wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see an absolute rout by the Badgers, a team looking to improve quickly after a tough defeat to open their season — one that they hope ends in a championship. 

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Prediction: Wisconsin 56, Miami 14 

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.