Wisconsin will look to begin the Gary Andersen era on a high note Saturday afternoon in Madison when it squares off against MAC bottom feeder Massachusetts.
The Minutemen are being projected to finish at the bottom of the MAC East division in 2013, while the Badgers are expected to compete for the Big Ten Championship again this fall. Are we in store for another early-season blowout, or will UMass harness its inner Appalachian State?
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Saturday's season opener inside Camp Randall Stadium.
When: Saturday, August 31, at noon ET
Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
Watch: Big Ten Network
Live Stream: BTN2Go
Spread: Wisconsin (-44.5), according to Covers.com
UMass Injuries (via USA Today)
RB Jordan Broadnax—Questionable—Knee
DL Leo Krizanovic—Questionable—Undisclosed
TE Rob Blanchflower—Doubtful—Knee
Wisconsin Injuries (via USA Today)
OL Kyle Costigan—Probable—Knee
WR Reggie Love—Questionable—Knee
DB T.J. Reynard—Questionable—Knee
WR Chase Hammond—Questionable—Arm
OL Dan Voltz—Questionable—Hamstring
LB Ethan Armstrong—Questionable—Leg
What They're Saying
UMass' quarterback situation has been a bit of a mystery this summer, but head coach Charley Molnar recently shed some light on the subject, naming Mike Wegzyn the current starter under center, per the Daily Hampshire Gazette's Matt Vautour :
He’s the starter right now. He has some high points and low points in the course of a practice, but all in all he’s been consistent and outperformed the competition. Unless some unfortunate circumstances occur, he would be No. 1 going into Thursday.
Wegzyn started 11 of 12 games for UMass last season, completing just 53 percent of his passes for 1,825 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
A.J. Doyle, who struggled in limited action in 2012, and Brandon Hill could also see snaps against Wisconsin if Wegzyn struggles.
UMass Player to Watch: Lorenzo Woodley, RB
A true freshman running back, Lorenzo Woodley was highly touted coming out of high school, fielding offers from programs like Cincinnati, Florida State and West Virginia among others, according to 247Sports.
Redshirt freshman Stacy Bedell is expected to start at running back for the Minutemen in Madison on Saturday, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette's Matt Vautour, but Woodley could still see several opportunities.
A 6-foot, 210-pound back, Woodley offers versatility out of the backfield as a player who can operate both inside and outside the tackles and pick up the tough yards when called upon.
Wisconsin Player to Watch: Chris Borland, LB
The Badgers' second-leading tackler in each of the past two seasons returns for his senior season in 2013. Inside linebacker Chris Borland is an absolute stud defensively for Wisconsin and is expected to anchor the program's new 3-4 defense this season.
Borland recorded 104 total tackles, 9.5 for a loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012 for a defense that surrendered just 322 total yards and 19 points per game.
Key Matchup: James White and Melvin Gordon vs. UMass' Front Seven
Wisconsin is known for its ground-and-pound style on offense, and that's bad news for UMass, a team that ranked 117th in the FBS last season in rush defense, surrendering 224 yards per game on the ground and 33 rushing touchdowns in all.
Bruising back Montee Ball has gone to the NFL, but the Badgers still feature two studs in the backfield in James White and Melvin Gordon, who combined to rush for 1,427 yards and 15 touchdowns behind Ball in 2012.
Keep in mind that Gordon averaged a ridiculous 10 yards per carry on 62 attempts.
Therefore, if Phil Elmassian's defense can't win at the line of scrimmage and keep Wisconsin's talented backs bottled up, the Minutemen will be in for a long afternoon.
Who wins this lopsided matchup?
UMass simply lacks the playmakers to keep pace with Wisconsin in this matchup. The Minutemen averaged an FBS-low 12.7 points per game a season ago and haven't added enough talent through recruiting to suggest they'll be much better offensively in 2013.
On the other hand, Wisconsin is taking aim at its fourth consecutive Big Ten title and returns a handful of talented players on both sides of the ball.
Expect the Badgers to win big at home to start the Gary Andersen era strong.
Wisconsin 55, Massachusetts 10
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