Russell Wilson Era Officially Underway at Wisconsin

Sean LansingContributor IAugust 24, 2011

Russell Wilson was named the Badgers starting QB this week.
Russell Wilson was named the Badgers starting QB this week.

One day after his teammates voted newcomer Russell Wilson co-captain for the 2011 season, head coach Brett Bielema revealed one of college football’s worst kept secrets Monday when he named the first-year transfer his starting quarterback for Wisconsin’s season opener next week.

Both Wilson and Bielema said all the right things when pressed earlier this summer regarding the quarterback battle that was supposed to ensue this fall, but everybody knew it was Wilson’s job as soon as the ink dried on the transfer papers.

After months of hype and high praise from coaches and players who take the field with Wilson each day, will the Badgers' new signal caller deliver when the snaps start to count?

Wilson faces his first real test next Thursday when the Badgers host UNLV in front of a national T.V. audience at Camp Randall Stadium to officially kick off the 2011-12 college football season. 

If the Rebels’ 2010 pass defense is any indication, Wilson should impress early.

UNLV ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in pass defense last season, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 64 percent of their passes while tossing for almost 230 yards per game and 25 scores.

Last year’s starter, Scott Tolzien, threw for just 197 yards against that same Rebels’ defense with no touchdowns and one interception, though he did complete 75 percent of his throws.

In fact, Tolzien threw for 230 yards or more in just two games last season while leading the Badgers to an 11-1 regular season record and a birth in the Rose Bowl as a result of their first Big Ten championship in over 10 years.    

Wilson did it nine times with N.C. State in 2010 despite a non-existent rushing offense, eclipsing the 300-yard mark in eight contests.

Add a running game to Wilson’s repertoire, and Badger fans know the sky is the limit in 2011.

Eight days before kickoff, the excitement in Mad-Town isn’t waning.

With five of the Badgers' first six contests scheduled for the friendly confines of Camp Randall (the lone holdout being neutral site Soldier Field against Northern Illinois), the enthusiasm—and expectations—will only continue to build.

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