When looking at why an offense and football team in general succeeds or fails, the play of the quarterback will be an accurate indicator almost every time.
When someone has the ball in his hands for every offensive snap, it's simply impossible for their quality of play not to have an enormous impact on the outcome of the game.
Fittingly, when UNLV and Wisconsin square off in the desert to kick off the 2010 season, the play of each quarterback will determine whether the Badgers start their potential BCS-worthy season on the right note or whether the Rebels can pull off one of the season's first shockers.
So, let's take a look at the two senior quarterbacks who will be integral to their teams' success this year.
Omar Clayton, UNLV
In the past two seasons, Clayton has quietly put up some of the best passing numbers in the Mountain West.
Although Clayton threw 12 interceptions last year, he still threw for 13 touchdowns, 2,230 yards, and completed 60 percent of his attempts.
That said, his sophomore season was much better than his junior campaign. As a sophomore, Clayton threw for 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Plus, as is becoming more and more the norm in all levels of football, Clayton has the ability to run. Although he probably wouldn't be considered a "running quarterback," Clayton has the knack for scrambling and keeping the play alive, as evidenced by his 580 career rushing yards and six touchdowns.
A quarterback who can take off when the play breaks down can absolutely kill a defense.
If UNLV wants to get back to a bowl game after a disappointing 5-7 season last year, Clayton will need to be on the top of his game.
He'll certainly be vital to the Rebels if they hope to have any shot of defeating the Badgers.
Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin
Going into his senior season at UW, Tolzien may have more influence on whether his team can meet expectations than any other player in the Big Ten.
Yes, John Clay is expected to make a run at another Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award and even the Heisman Trophy, but if he went down, Zach Brown or Montee Ball would have no problem stepping into the starting role.
If Tolzien goes down or can't play up to par, there's simply no one to replace him.
Jon Budmayr is listed as second on the depth chart, but he's yet to play a college snap. With Curt Phillips likely being out a good portion of the season after suffering a knee injury in the offseason, Tolzien is really the only option the Badgers have.
Luckily, if he can stay healthy, Tolzien should be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten.
Last year—his first as a starter—Tolzien tossed 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while throwing for 2,705 yards on 64.3 percent clip.
No, he's not quite as mobile as Clayton, but Tolzien more than makes up for it with his accurate passing and mistake-free football.
If Tolzien can get enough time in the pocket and keep his cool, he's definitely the better passer. He could put up some big numbers against UNLV seeing as how the Rebels gave up over 32 points a game in 2009.
But Clayton could be dangerous to the Badgers as well. If he gets into open space, it will be tough for Wisconsin's defense to contain him and he could definitely do some damage.
One thing is certain, though. These two quarterbacks will not only determine who wins on Saturday night, but how their respective teams do as a whole in 2010.