Question: Wisconsin's offense is averaging 46.5 points while the defense has yet to allow a single point through two games. Do you think this Saturday's game will be a grind-it-out defensive battle or a shoot out in the desert?
Kerry Crowley: Even though Wisconsin's defense has impressed early on, I believe the Badgers' new 3-4 scheme will endure some growing pains against the Sun Devils' offense this week. Gary Andersen's defense has the fans in Madison pleased, but Arizona State's dynamic offensive threats will create matchup issues that the Badgers have yet to face.
It's simply too difficult to keep pace with Marion Grice, D.J. Foster, Jaelen Strong, Chris Coyle and De'Marieya Nelson all at once. On defense, the Badgers should strategize on limiting big plays and substituting regularly to keep their players fresh.
On offense, the Badgers will have success running the football. It's up to the Sun Devil defense to make plays on third-down and create mayhem in the backfield in early-down situations to put pressure on quarterback Joel Stave to make plays. Ultimately, I see a tightly contested affair in which the teams combine for around 60 points.
Nick Marek: I do agree with Kerry in most senses. As good of defenses as these two teams have, I'm expecting to see a shoot out because there are too many offensive weapons on both teams. Wisconsin has THREE running backs with over 250 yards, but the team's aerial game is very much in jeopardy because they have not had to face as talented of a front seven as Arizona State. Not to mention, the Sun Devil secondary only allowed 116 yards passing against Sacramento State.
Some people may consider this a scare, but Arizona State did not use D.J. Foster much in the first game of the season. That means the Badgers' coaching staff does not have any film of the new and improved three-back system and Nelson was a key contributor on the opposite side of Chris Coyle. Arizona State's line will do considerably better this week and show college football that they are deserving of a top-25 bid. Besides, if this game is barn burner, who would you rather have in a fourth quarter drive? Taylor Kelly or Joel Stave? Point taken.
Neither team has allowed a point this season, but then again, look at what teams ASU and Wisconsin has played. I think it's time for Andersen to lose his first game as a Badger.
Cody Ulm: I don't see anyway this isn't a shoot out. Yes, the defenses are solid but each can be taken advantage of. And both offenses are built to do exactly that. The matchup between the Badgers' imposing ground game and the Devils' questionable run defense has been discussed relentlessly this week. But Wisconsin had an equivalent amount of uncertainty in their secondary leading up to this season and it's not as if they've been tested so far. Even though wide receiver isn't exactly a strength for ASU, the Devils still have enough weapons to spread it out and pick their spots against an inexperienced coverage team.
With that said, I do believe that Wisconsin's new 3-4 defense is going to have more big plays than Kerry makes it seem. They may have two shutouts but they've intentionally been hiding their true potential. If that theory is true, then this is obviously the week they're planning to unleash the hounds. I could see them totaling four to five sacks and having at least two takeaways. But I expect ASU's defense to be just as aggressive and set the Sun Devil offense up with some premium field position. Just like Nick said, I'm taking Kelly over Stave when it comes down to crunch time, especially considering the favorable home environment.
Mauricio Casillas: This game is the first true test for both teams so it's a little difficult to see in which direction this game is going. With that being said, I just can't imagine this game being a defensive battle.
Arizona State has too many weapons on offense to be stopped. You can't possibly expect a defense to neutralize Kelly, Grice, Foster, Coyle, Nelson and Strong for four quarters. As Kerry mentioned earlier, there's just no end to the defensive mismatches.
The Sun Devil defense, on the other hand, will have its hands full with Wisconsin's dynamic running game. Last season, we saw Oregon run the ball down ASU's throat. While I believe the run defense has improved from last season, Wisconsin will still be able to dominate.
I believe that both teams will score over 30 points, but whoever wins the game will win by a very small margin.
Or we could all be wrong...and the game ends up finishing 3-2 in the defensive battle of the year.
Ryan Bafaloukos: This game has all the makings of a defensive struggle. Neither team has allowed a point on defense this season and both teams play fundamentally sound football. In theory, this game should end with a score around 13-10.
However, when does football ever make sense? I think this game will be a shoot out. I think Taylor Kelly will feast on an inexperienced secondary and Wisconsin will counter with an effective rushing attack. I really like what I saw out of the Sun Devil offense last week (albeit against Sacramento State). The ASU passing game may rival its run game this year if not be better.
I also think Wisconsin has been impressive against inferior competition. The Badgers had three 100-yard rushers last week. This is the first real test for the ASU rush defense in 2013 and until they prove it to me, I am not confident they can stop the run against a physical team like Wisconsin. In the end, I think this game becomes more high scoring than it is expected to be.
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