Wisconsin Football: Breaking Down The Matchup With San Jose State
Coming off a 41-21 dismantling of UNLV last Saturday night, the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers appear to be on the top of their game heading into Week 2.
Despite a final score that may not indicate a blowout, Saturday's game was just that: a blowout. The Badgers ran over and around the Rebels on the way to almost 500 yards of total offense, while barely allowing them a first down until midway through the second half.
Now, Wisconsin heads back to Madison for their home opener. But, once again, the Badgers will be playing a team from out west. This time it's San Jose State from the WAC.
Like UNLV, the Spartans aren't supposed to make a whole lot of noise in 2010. In fact, they're expected to make even less.
After finishing 2-10 last year, SJSU opened 2010 with a 48-3 loss at the hands of No. 1 Alabama.
Now, don't expect a score like that when the Spartans visit Camp Randall at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. But, don't be surprised either.
Here's a breakdown of both teams.
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Let's see...Wisconsin brings in one of the nation's best rushing attacks (278 yards last week) and one of the Big Ten's most efficient quarterbacks in Scott Tolzien.
San Jose State brings in a quarterback (Jordan La Secla) who was 7-14 for 85 yards with an interception last week and a rushing attack that managed only 89 yards. Oh, and they only scored 3 points.
Although we could delve into the intricacies of both offenses, it's not really necessary. If the Badgers' three-headed rushing attack (John Clay, Montee Ball, James White) and quarterback Scott Tolzien perform well, Wisco should have no problem putting up 40 points against the Spartans.
If they don't, they still shouldn't put up any less than 30 points.
Now, Wisconsin's defense isn't quite as stout as 'Bama's, but San Jose State will still have difficulties playing against the pure speed of the Badger 'D.'
Don't expect more than 20 points.
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Although on paper it appears as though Wisconsin's defense gave up 21 points last week, in reality they gave up only 14. And, if you want to go even further, they really only gave up 7 if you account for the fact that one of UNLV's touchdown drives began inside the 20-yard line.
Yes, Wisconsin's defense, despite the off-season concerns, performed as well as could be expected to begin the 2010 season. They gave up just just 105 passing yards and 112 rushing yards to the Rebels, with most of that production coming late in the game.
With J.J. Watt, Chris Borland, and Jay Valai leading the way, the Badgers could actually be quite stingy this year.
San Jose State, on the other hand, did anything but stop the Crimson Tide in Week 1.
Not only did they give up 48 points, but they allowed 334 passing yards and 257 rushing yards.
Much like last weekend, the Spartans could be looking at 40+ points on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
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Although both teams had solid days on special teams last week, it's really too early in the season to determine if either of those performances will hold up.
Last year, the Badgers certainly had their fair share of struggles on special teams. Missed kicks, long opposing kickoff returns, barely any return game of their own. This year, against UNLV at least, those problems seem fixed—or at least less severe.
For their part, San Jose State actually had some minor success against 'Bama, accumulating 150 yards on seven kickoff returns, kicking a field goal and holding the Tide's return game in check.
One thing is certain though. The Spartans will certainly have their opportunities to return the ball against the Badgers on Saturday.
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Although some Wisconsin fans may hate to admit it, head Badger Bret Bielema has accomplished a lot in his time in Madison.
Along with a 39-14 career record, Bielema has two bowl wins and undoubtedly has the football program headed in the right direction.
That said, 2010 will be a huge year for Bielema to prove that he can take Wisconsin back to the kind of national prominence that current athletic director Barry Alvarez accomplished back in the 1990s.
If he can't do it this year, when can he?
As for San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre, he's just trying to survive his first two games as an FBS head coach.
After being hired away from Duke, where he served two years as the Blue Devils' defensive coordinator, it's been a trial by fire for MacIntyre.
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When the Badgers play at home, intangibles will always go there way.
It's not very often opposing teams—much less non-conference teams—come into Camp Randall Stadium and walk away with a win. It's simply one of the most challenging stadiums to win in if you're a visiting opponent.
As for momentum, it's riding with the Badgers as well.
Wisconsin's coming off a 20-point win in the heat of Las Vegas. San Jose State's coming off a 45-point loss at the hands of Alabama.
All signs point to a Badger victory.
San Jose State 13