Breaking it down: Badgers set for another non-conference rout
Who: Troy vs. No. 24 Wisconsin
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Wisconsin -34.5
Matchup to watch: Joe Schobert vs. Antonio Garcia
The Badger outside linebacker has been arguably the Big Ten defensive player of the year so far. His five tackles for loss — three of which were sacks — have been big with Michael Caputo still working his way back to full strength. In order for the former walk-on to continue his tear, he’ll have to get past a guy that only allowed 2.5 sacks all of last year. The 6-7 Garcia will look to keep Brandon Silver’s blindside protected, which will be easier said than done. The Badgers might not even need to blitz Schobert if the Badger front four generates pressure like it did last week.
Thing I’m excited for: Joel Stave deep ball
Ok, so you know by now that Stave’s yips are gone. His start — without Wisconsin’s typical dominant rushing attack — has been one of the nicer early-season stories in the conference. What we don’t know is how Stave will fare throwing the deep ball. His longest completion of the year is only 23 yards. That’s not to say the Badgers are taking the Alex Smith approach. Paul Chryst wants to be able to work downfield. With guys like Alex Erickson and the emerging Robert Wheelwright, they’d be foolish not to. But these first two games have been crucial in reestablishing Stave’s confidence. He’s never had a problem throwing the ball deep. The intermediate routes were always the problem. With that aspect looking stronger than ever, hopefully we’ll see Chryst open up the playbook even more this week.
Number to remember: 19:14
That’s Troy’s average time of possession per game. Part of that is because the offense has relied on big scores from the likes of Brandon Burks and Teddy Ruben. The bigger reason is they can’t get off the field. The Trojans are allowing 257 rushing yards per contest, which is 118th in the country. Even with Corey Clement likely out of action for this one, the Badger rushing attack shouldn’t have any problems breaking off big chunks of yardage. Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal could both be in line for career days if Troy’s troubling trend continues.
Prediction: Wisconsin 52, Troy 7
A similar feel to last week, the Badger offense — banged up as it is — will still steamroll a far lesser opponent. Stave gets through this one virtually untouched, gets the Wisconsin offense rolling early and the ground game does the rest in the second half. I’ll even go out on a limb and say Tanner McEvoy ends up with more touchdowns than Troy does. Just don’t ask me where he’ll be on the field when he gets them.