Breaking it down: Wisconsin vs. Alabama
Who: No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Stadium, Dallas
Spread: Wisconsin +12
Matchup to Watch: Corey Clement vs. Bama D-line
There might not be a better defensive line in the country then Alabama’s. There might not be a guy more excited to take on that challenge than Clement. The ever-confident tailback has the talent to back up his 2,000-yard goal. It’ll be the first time he isn’t splitting carries with the best runner in college football, but many believe Clement is already more developed at this stage of his career. He’ll need to be in midseason form against a unit that features preseason All-Americans A’Shawn Robinson and Reggie Ragland. Otherwise, it could turn into a long day for the Badger back.
Thing I’m excited to see: Michael Caputo hitting people
A first-time starter will be starting at quarterback for Alabama. What do inexperienced quarterbacks often do? Leave their receivers exposed to big hits. What does Caputo do for a living? Deliver big hits. The Wisconsin safety has a reputation for shining against the nation’s best. The leader of the Badger defense solidified one of the more underrated units last year. In order for the Badgers to have a chance in this one, an early crushing shot from Caputo would go a long ways toward making Bama a one-dimensional unit.
Number to Remember: 0
That’s the amount of days the starting Wisconsin offensive line got to practice together in fall camp. This will not look like a finished product. Right tackle Hayden Biegel is still working his way back from a concussion and will be starting for the first time. Michael Deiter and Walker Williams are also making their first starts. Those expecting the group that paved the way to Melvin Gordon’s 2,500-yard season are in for a surprise. Still, Paul Chryst has been known to find ways to still establish the run with inexperienced linemen. If he can do so against Nick Saban’s loaded D, Barry Alvarez might just give Chryst an extension after the game.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Alabama 24
This is purely a gut call. All conventional wisdom says a bitter Bama team with freakish size and speed on defense will roll Wisconsin. I mean, the spread is 12 points for a neutral site game with two ranked teams. But I don’t think the Bama offense will look much better than Wisconsin’s. I think the Badgers win the turnover battle and the time of possession to stun the college football world. Call it crazy, call it stupid. That’s what people said about picking the Badgers to beat Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Let’s get bold right away in 2015.