The Austin Peay Governors (named after the Governor by the same name who served Tennessee from 1923-27) are coming to Madison with very low expectations.
Coach Rick Christophel hasn't had a winning year in his five year tenure, and says while the program is starting to turn the corner with pieces like running backs Ryan White and Terrence Holt—a standout senior—they're nowhere where they'd like to be as a program.
"We've got to get to that upper-echelon level. We're not there yet. There's three, four, five teams in our conference that are there. That's how you measure yourself. When you go outside the conference, then maybe you'll be able to compete." Christophel said.
Austin Peay plays in the OVC, the Ohio Valley Conference of the FCS.
For Austin Peay, staying on the field long enough at least competently, would be nice.
"It's going to be hard to tell after a game like this because Wisconsin's so good," Christophel said. "If we can just play our assignments and do the things we're supposed to do, then hopefully we can be competitiveve enough to stay on the field for a little while."
The Governors have little to lose, but the intimidation factor will definitely be there, coming out of the tunnel on to the field to play the Badgers, with just a handful of fans in their corner, out of thousands.
The offense of Austin Peay will be very limited, likely focused in large on Holt (700-plus rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last season) but the attack shouldn't be too much to handle.
For the Badgers, it's a refresher on what needs to be worked on, where they can improve, and getting healthy against a lesser opponent. Starters will get their time on the field, but once the Badgers pull ahead—and they will—the backups (namely Montee Ball, James White, some interior linemen) should get plenty of garbage time reps.
Junior running back John Clay and his physical running style should make short work of the Governors defense, and continue into Big Ten play stronger than in previous weeks.
Clay sits at 383 yards and five touchdowns, but I'm sure he'd love to bump those numbers up to perhaps 500 yards and seven or eight scores. That would certainly put him back in the discussion of Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year again, an award he won last season.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien will hopefully continue to grow into his role, and progress further as a passer for the Badgers. It's key that he keeps developing his passing game (which is already rather efficient and low on mistakes) because the running game needs the passing game to work well to keep defenses honest, keeping men in traditional positions rather than loading the box suspecting run.
If the No. 11 Badgers want to make a serious BCS push, it starts Oct. 2nd, at Michigan St. If they can roll over Austin Peay Saturday, look for a hot Badgers team to roll into conference play with issues resolved.