Over the summer we took a quick look at the Wisconsin game and concluded "Simply put, USF is not going to be able to stop Wisconsin's offense." Four weeks into the season and... well, that seems like an accurate conclusion. This week we checked in with Andrew Rosin of Wisconsin's SB Nation site, Bucky's 5th Quarter, for some help scouting the Badgers.
1. The only blemish on the Badgers' season thus far is a rather wacky loss to LSU in which the Tigers scored 21 points to close out the game. How are fans feeling about the season thus far? Does this team have a B1G title and playoff berth in its sights?
AR: Badger fans seem to have recovered from one of the largest gutpunches of a loss in Badgers history. Cause if Warren Herring didn't get hurt? The Badgers would have hung on. As it is, Badger fans are probably going to regret that game all year, but there's also a general consensus that the Big Ten West is the Badgers to lose. Though with national perceptions of the Big Ten conference being the way they are? A playoff berth still feels like a longshot.
2. Wisconsin ranks first in the nation right now with a totally absurd 359.7 rushing yards per game. Heck, you guys put up 644 rushing yards on Bowling Green last week. Is there any possible way for a young USF front seven to slow down the Badgers' rushing attack, other than praying?
AR: Western Illinois sold out everything to stop the run against Wisconsin and unfortunately? It was 167 yards rushing on just under 4.3 yards per carry. And this allowed the Badgers to move the ball through the air with their backs, tight ends, and Alex Erickson for almost 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Badgers have enough to make a team pay for selling out to stop the run without an all-world secondary. So, long story short, and with as little arrogance as possible, lighting a candle would probably help.
3. Quarterback Tanner McEvoy, on the other hand, has put up fairly middling stats thus far. What's the fan consensus on McEvoy? Does he have what it takes to win a game for the Badgers through the air?
AR: Most people think McEvoy was working with a bad game plan for the LSU game, so there's still a lot of patience. His mobility is definitely helping his cause. But he's probably going to have to have a completion percentage that lands around 61 or 62 percent and a TD-INT ratio that's around 2 to 1 for him to be considered a truly effective quarterback. As for the second part of the question? He won the Western Illinois game through the air, but beating an FCS opponent is a lot different than beating a rival on the road in November, so I'm sort of confident.
4. USF's m.o. on offense will likely be to pound running back Marlon Mack early and often. How does theWisconsin front match up against the power running game?
AR: With the caveat of the fact the Badgers defensive line is thin depth-wise? They match up very well against a power running game. Most of Kenny Hilliard's 110 yards in the LSU game came after Herring went down. Even then, the Badgers are averaging 2.58 yards allowed per rush attempt overall. That's good for 10th in the nation. Marlon Mack might surprise, but this could well be one of those 11 carry, 17 yard sort of affairs.
5. The Badgers have been on the wrong side of close games lately, going 0-4 the past two seasons in games decided by a touchdown or less. Luck in close games tends to even out over time, but is there any particular reason for Wisconsin's struggles there?
AR: This has been the bane of Badger fans existence for a while now. And here's the best as I can figure it. The Badgers old coach liked to play slow, conservative games with a bend but don't break sort of defense to keep it close against teams that were of equal or higher levels of talent. He recruited that way, and while Andersen's moving this team to a more dynamic style on both sides of the ball, when you play conservatively, you leave yourself open to the potential for more heartbreak.
6. Prediction for Saturday? Is Wisconsin gonna cover that 33 point spread?
AR: You all are having some real struggles through the air right now, and it seems like Andre Davis isn't gonna play this weekend. As such? Considering I think the Badgers front seven handles your running game? I think the Badgers cover that spread. Wisconsin 45, South Florida 10
Thanks again to Andrew for his help. Check out Bucky's 5th Quarter for all your Wisconsin needs this week.