Auburn Football: Five Wisconsin Badgers to Watch in the Outback Bowl

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Dec 6, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) is tackled by Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Derek Landisch (30) during the Big Ten football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Linebacker Derek Landisch

There is no question that the linebacker corps is the strongest unit on the Wisconsin defense – in fact, they are considered to be the best group in the Big Ten- and Derek Landisch is the best of the bunch.

Playing in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 scheme, the Badgers implement a variety of blitzes that put all four linebackers in a position to put pressure on the quarterback. Overall, Aranda’s unit is responsible for 85 tackles for a loss this season and 36 sacks (by contrast, Auburn has only 20 sacks this season).

In fact, the Badgers have recorded a sack more than 11% of the time when an opponent attempts to pass. That’s an impressive rate that ranks in the top five in the nation.

Landish, a senior inside linebacker, leads the team with 16 tackles for a loss and nine sacks. He ranks third on the Wisconsin defense with 77 total tackles, and has also recorded an interception.

At 6-foot and 231 pounds, Landisch isn’t as physically imposing as many top-notch linebackers. He also doesn’t possess top-end speed. However, he’s smart and has great energy, which has proven very effective.

You have to have a high motor,” Landisch said earlier this season. “But there’s also a lot of technique to it and a lot of reading, especially when you’re blitzing in the interior against such big guys, especially with the smaller size that I am, you really have to have perfect technique and play with great effort.”

A first team All-Big Ten selection, Landisch is also a team leader. He has played in 51 career games – most among all defensive players – and is a team captain. However, he is in his first season as a starter.

Landisch will have his hands full trying to stop the high-octane Tigers’ offense, which is led by fleet-footed and strong-armed quarterback Nick Marshall, and near 1,500-yard rusher Cameron Arrtis-Payne. But he’s done a good job limiting opponents best offensive players so far this season.

Next: Wide Receiver Alex Erickson