The No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (6-2 and 24th in the BCS) welcome the rising BYU Cougars (6-2) to Camp Randall this Saturday. This is the first of three home games that the Badgers will enjoy during the month of November.
This game can either help reinforce or destroy Bucky’s chances at a fourth consecutive BCS bowl game; such as the Orange Bowl predicts the USA Today.
The Cougars sit just outside of the BCS top-25 and are receiving votes in every poll, after winning five consecutive games. BYU isn’t just winning games it is doing so while averaging an impressive 38 points-per-game during that stretch.
What Must Happen to Get the W:
Wisconsin’s fifth-ranked defense, allowing only 15.0 points-per-game on the year, must be up to the challenge of slowing down BYU’s offensive attack. On paper that sounds easy but the Cougars’ attack is led by explosive sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill who has thrown for seven passing touchdowns in the his last two games.
Passing the ball is not all Hill can do. He is also BYU’s leading rusher in yardage and has eight touchdowns on the ground as well. It is safe to say Badgers fans everywhere are thankful that senior linebacker Chris Borland will be back for this matchup to help run down the exciting Hill. Wisconsin will need Borland to spoil Hill’s and BYU’s impressive stretch of play. But defense should not be the Badgers’ main concern as it has been solid all year.
The most important task at hand for Badgers is to establish their dominant running game, especially at home. If you cannot run the ball at home in November in college football – you do not play in big bowl games.
Melvin Gordon III, Wisconsin’s candidate for Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten, must rebound from his previous performance against Iowa in which he rushed for a season low 62 yards. If Gordan can bounce back with his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season it could spell a long day for the Cougars’ 28th ranked defense.
This is only the second time these two teams have met; the first matchup occurred over a decade before most of the players involved in this game were even born. BYU won the first clash between these schools in 1980. Wisconsin looks to extract revenge over three decades in the making.
Gary Andersen knows a lot of the BYU players well as he attempted to woo many of them over the past four seasons when he was the head coach of Utah State Aggies. For those reasons this game has a bit more added emotion for Andersen. If the Badgers win they should begin to slowly climb closer to BCS bowl contention. They end the year with Indiana, at Minnesota, and Penn State.
Anyone see Bucky going 10-2 after being 3-2 in late September? Step one of four to a big year that could have Wisky fans smelling oranges begins in Madison at 2:30 PM CT on ESPN.