What’s the best way to put that frustrating ending in the desert behind us? The start of the Big Ten season. Purdue comes to town and it should be the first good game in Madison this year.
Onto the part you come to read.
1) How will the Badgers bounce back from last Saturday?
So far, I think this won’t be a problem. Everyone has been saying the right thing, right from the start. Even minutes after the game, players were tweeting appropriately. Andersen also has been upfront with the fact that they have moved on and they learned from the game.
The fact is, the ending of the Arizona State game was about all anyone has talked about all week. It would be impossible for that to not at least be somewhat in the minds of the players and/or coaches. I trust Andersen though, and wouldn’t expect much of a hangover. If anything, I could see Wisconsin coming out too excited and ending the first drive on a three and out.
2) Will Melvin Gordon get more carries this week?
Yes, the Badgers have three solid running backs. Yes, in the past Wisconsin has utilized a multi-back system, but Gordon appears to be something special. This is something to watch not only for this game, but all games going forward. Will Gordon start to get more of the majority of carries?
On the season, he has 37 carries for 477 yards. That’s an average of 12.9, which isn’t even fair. James White has 45 carries for 297 yards and Corey Clement has 31 carries for 251 yards. None of those numbers are bad, so this is in no way a slight towards the other running backs, but I personally would like to see Gordon at the top of the list in carries.
3) How will the secondary handle Rob Henry?
Last week in Tempe was the first time all year we were able to see how the secondary would handle a solid quarterback, and well, the results were mixed. I was happy to see how aggressive they were in defending passes as I was not a fan of the huge cushion receivers were often given in the old regime.
The aggressiveness created havoc in the first half (and a few drops helped as well), but in the second half it was taken advantage of in the form of penalties and quick outs. Now we can argue about how many of the penalties were legit, but the matter is, when you play aggressive defense, sometimes you are going to get burned and sometimes you are going to get called. I want to see how the secondary handles a team that has been struggling to get the run going.
4) Will the Badgers kick at Raheem Mostert?
Mostert is the real deal when it comes to returning kicks. Two year ago in Madison, Mostert returned five kicks for an average of 41.2 yards. That’s good field position to start pretty much every drive, and would put the defense in some tough situations.
I expect Wisconsin to keep the ball away from him as much as possible to make the Boilermaker offense actually move the ball down the field.
5) Can the crowd be a difference maker?
While this is the third home game of the year, it’s the first one that isn’t an absolute gimmie. It’s also the first conference game of the year and the first game that matters towards trying to get win the Big Ten for the fourth straight year. The students shouldn’t need much more motivation than that, and I think with the 2:30 start time, the stands will be full to start the game.
Purdue started the season slow, but gave Notre Dame all they could handle last week. There will be a few big third downs where a loud crowd could help in the outcome of the game.
Are there things you’ll be watching for that we haven’t listed? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment below.