No. 24 Wisconsin is knocking on the door to begin the second quarter, with the ball at UTEP’s two-yard line.
Now let’s look at what Dienhart says about this game.
Why you should watch: This is another chance to see if the struggling Badger offense can get on track. The attack is last in the Big Ten in scoring (16.3 ppg); last in total offense (276.0 ypg); last in pass offense (156.3 ypg) and 11th in rush offense (119.7 ypg). Get the picture?
Keep an eye on: The Wisconsin quarterbacks. The coaching staff knows who is going to start. But it isn’t saying after Danny O’Brien gave way to Joel Stave after halftime last week. Neither looked overly impressive in the 16-14 win over Utah State. For O’Brien to be the man, he must protect the ball and eliminate turnovers. Or, he won’t play. Signs point to Stave, a redshirt freshman, getting the nod.
Key matchup: The Wisconsin offensive line vs. the UTEP defensive line. Look, the Badger behemoths should dominate an undersized UTEP front. Anything less than 200 yards rushing will be a big disappointment. Montee Ball has a Big Ten-high 84 carries for 320 yards and two touchdowns. After three games last year, Ball had 48 carries for 272 and seven touchdowns. Look for Wisconsin to try to muscle up and have Ball run the ball 25-30 times. The unit needs success. This unit needs confidence.
Key number: 0, turnovers generated by Wisconsin’s defense. Southern Miss and Buffalo are the only other FBS schools that haven’t notched a turnover.
Key note: The Badgers have won 25 consecutive non-conference home games. And Wisconsin is 41-3 at home under Bret Bielema. The lone losses have been to Penn State, Iowa and Ohio State.
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