We took some time with Adam Hoge of Bucky's 5th Quarter to discuss the big game today. You can see my answers to his questions here.
1. To the average college football fan, last Saturday's game against San Jose State was a disaster for Wisconsin. What contributed to the close score, and why were the Spartans able to keep it tight throughout?
Well, it depends on what your definition of close is. The Badgers led 20-0 and 27-7 before giving up a late touchdown. At no point was the result in doubt. But the truth is that the Badgers did not play a clean game. They moved the ball with ease but coughed it up in the redzone.
The defense played well, but gave up three or four big plays that allowed San Jose State to score two touchdowns. Basically the Badgers have shown in two games that if they don't beat themselves they have the ability to be really, really good. Of course, that was the case last year too.
2. Tell us a little more about Scott Tolzien. What kind of player is he, and if ASU is able to stop John Clay on the ground, will Tolzien be able to make up for it by airing it out?
Scott Tolzien is the typical Wisconsin quarterback. He's got plenty of ability to keep you in games, but you don't want him to do too much. He probably has the ability to win you games, but you prefer if he just doesn't lose them. He does enough to make it really hard for the opposing team to put everyone in the box and just concentrate on stopping the run.
Will he "air it out?" Probably not, but just when you think Wisconsin's passing game can't hurt you, Tolzien will come up with a 15-20 yard passing play to one of his wide receivers or tight end Lance Kendricks. Of course, it won't help that both Nick Toon and David Gilreath will be out Saturday.
3. How do you feel about your Wisconsin team this season? It's easy to be optimistic when you're 2-0 and ranked eleventh in the nation, but does this team have what it takes to make it to the Rose Bowl? There's some stiff competition out there...
Looking back at 2009, it's really easy to point to a handful of plays in Wisconsin's three losses and say the Badgers were really close to going undefeated. That's true, but those plays still happened and thus far in 2010, we're seeing a lot of those same mistakes.
It's really up to the Badgers. The talent on the field still suggests to me that the Badgers can make a run at the Rose Bowl, but the execution so far is starting to say otherwise. All that can change with a great performance this weekend though.
4. How do Badger fans feel about this game on Saturday? What are the expectations? Is there a healthy dose of nerves, or are Wisconsin faithful chalking this one in the W column?
I think most people are putting it in the win column. Sure, I think it will be a close game but I don't think ASU is any better than the Fresno State team that came in to Camp Randall last season. That one went to overtime, but Wisconsin was also missing a number of players because of the H1N1 fly virus.
The Badgers haven't lost a non-conference game since 2003 and I don't think that will change Saturday.
5. I'd like to hear your prediction: just so everything is fair, give us more than just the score as well.
Wisconsin 27, Arizona State 17. This one is going to start slow. Tolzien will miss his two starting wide receivers, but eventually he'll find redshirt freshman Jared Abbrederis and use him as a security blanket (so far he has really missed tight end Garrett Graham from last year, who was in that role).
Arizona State is somewhat successful stopping the run in the first half, but eventually UW's bruising offensive line wears down the Sun Devils' defense. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's defense is solid throughout, but continues to give up a couple big plays that lead to points for Arizona State, keeping the score closer than it really is.