College Football 2011: Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17, but Trouble Could Be Brewing

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College Football 2011: Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17, but Trouble Could Be Brewing
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
University of Wisconsin football

All college football fans know we just can’t get a reasonable read by the results of your ranked team playing Volcker Polytechnic and Culinary Institute from the Football Championship Subdivision Bottom Ten.  But, it’s Week 1.  In many cases, that’s all we have.

I watched ESPN for the first half of Nevada-Las Vegas versus no. 9 Wisconsin at Camp Randall in Madison.  Rece Davis, Craig James, and Jesse Palmer served as our hosts for the evening. 

My conclusions?

The Good

Badgers’ new signal-caller, transfer mega-QB Russell Wilson, was a little excited during his initial plays, missing open receivers, one for a sure six. Wilson then settled in and ran the table to the tune of 10 of 13 for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns passes, even taking off on an electrifying 46 yard TD sprint. 

This is a guy who closed out 2010 with a big victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl, where he almost single-handedly shamed the Mountaineers. Wisconsin fans are looking for more of the same, as last night was most likely just the prelude.

The Bad

Nevada-Las Vegas, from the bottom of the Mountain West Conference, flummoxed Wisconsin’s defense with the Rebels overall speed. I’m sure some of you out there also saw this trend, as it was confirmed by James and Palmer. 

UNLV at times left the Badgers grasping air, allowing offensive coordinator Rob Phenicie to engineer three clock-burning drives for 18 total minutes of possession in the first half. True, Wisconsin kept Vegas out of the end zone in the first and second quarters, allowing three field goal attempts and yielding only three points. 

Also true is the Badger defense may have been revealed Thursday night to be a unit that has trouble when it gets fast.

The Future

Wisconsin welcomes Oregon State from the Pac 12 North in Week 2 on Saturday. The Beavers from Corvallis have some quick feet, looking for a solid road win over the Badgers to springboard into a North division schedule with Top 10 Stanford and Oregon. 

Automatic Qualifier conference speed runs deeper in the league than non-AQ speed, so next Saturday will be an even tougher test. Quarterback/supreme leader Russell Wilson just may have to outscore the Beavs.  “Outscore” could be the mantra for the entire Badger season, but Wilson’s tenure in Raleigh has shown he at times can put a team on his back and do just that.

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