BY JEFF BERNIER
Wisconsin’s shellacking of Miami (OH) at home last week gave the Badgers, and first year head coach Paul Chryst their first win on the young season. The Badgers (1-1) will look to run their home winning streak versus non-conference opponents to 35 in a row when Wisconsin plays host to the Troy Trojans (1-1) of the Sun-Belt Conference this Saturday in Madison, WI.
Long feared for their explosive rushing attack, the Badgers have enjoyed a resurgence in their passing game. The Badgers have had nine different receivers make a catch in the team’s first two games. While it is still early, Wisconsin’s go-to wide-out Alex Erickson is on pace for a 100-catch season.
It may not be a new era in Badgers country, but the team will remain aggressive through the air as their star running back Cory Clement continues to remain sidelined.
Senior quarterback Joel Stave has completed 65.2% of his passes on the season including five touchdowns. Stave has no shortage of quality targets at his disposal.
Junior wide-out Rob Wheelwright looks to be a breakout star for this newfound aerial attack. Standing six-foot-3, Wheelwright has hauled in three touchdown passes, flashing elite athleticism in the process. Alex Erickson is the most consistent of the group, remaining a favorite target of Stave’s. Two-way star Tanner McEvoy has also emerged as a dangerous target. Towering over opposing defensive-backs, the six-foot-6 McEvoy is able to make big plays on offense while also disrupting opponents passing plans with his fearless play at safety.
Having so many options is luxury for any quarterback; just ask Joel Stave.
“It makes it more fun when you can spread it around and truly just go through your reads,” Stave said, “and you’re not as much looking for a guy as you are looking for the open guy … There’s not so much looking for a specific player.”
Paul Chryst definitely has options as far as a game plan goes. While the passing game has shined in two games this season, the Troy Trojans have allowed a whopping 257 rushing yards per game.
Look for the tandem of Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal to once again do most of the heavy lifting this Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The pair combined for 157 yards and three scores in last week’s 58-0 trouncing of Miami (OH).
The Troy Trojans are coming off a bounce-back victory over FCS opponent Charleston Southern 44-16 last Saturday. The win followed their week-one loss to North Carolina State. Like the Wolfpack, the Badgers will provide Troy a huge challenge, especially on the road. Troy is just 1-20 against ranked opponents since 2001.
Prediction: Wisconsin 48, Troy 6
Game time: Saturday, September 19, 2:30 PM CT on BTN, BTN2; Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI (Buy Tickets)