Wisconsin enters a rare mid-season non-conference game with a 7-1 record, at least according to our WAY Too Early Predictions and will face a pretty decent challenge from the BYU Cougars. Just how rare is the mid-season non-conference game for the Badgers? Well the last time it's happened in the middle of the Big Ten season was 12 seasons ago, in 2001, when the Badgers took on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers - an FCS team at the time.
Yes, the Badgers have taken on opponents other than Big Ten ones to end the season, but that's after they've completed the season and not in the middle of it all. Luckily we'll get to see some of the best defensive players in the country playing in this one as Kyle Van Noy decided to stay at BYU instead of jump tot the NFL and Chris Borland will patrol the middle of the Badgers defense for one final season as well.
One of the more interesting things in this game is the relationship of Gary Andersen to the BYU Cougars. It's safe to say that Andersen has a working knowledge of what the Cougars are all about - it's not as if Utah State and BYU are rivals or anything..... Oh, wait.... They are?
So, can Andersen use that knowledge to his advantage, or does BYU get up to beat the coach that has given them all sorts of fits over his four years in Logan?
2012 Record: 8-5, Independent
Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall, 66-24 - 8th season in 2013
2012 Billingsley Ranking: No. 39
2012 Team Stats:
|153.2yds - 22TD's||Rushing||86.9yds - 5TD's|
|247.2yds - 25TD's/17INT's||Passing||179.2yds - 12TD's/12INT's|
Crazy 2012 Stat: 132-30 &111-38 - BYU outscored opponents by over four times as much in the 2nd quarter and nearly four times as much in the fourth quarter of games... I don't know about you, but that's completely crazy. What that speaks of is a team that makes good adjustments and puts away teams when it needs to - at least against teams it should beat...
What 2012 Tells Us About BYU: BYU ended the season by winning the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl over their former friends from the Mountain West, San Diego State, but it was a topsy turvy kind of year to say the least and this will be a meeting of two 7-5 teams.
However, the anatomy of this independent team's 7-5 record tells you why 2012 wasn't really all that impressive. The only decent wins they had all season long was a 6-3 field goal spectacular and a late season victory over San Jose State. Those were teams that would end the season ranked, but that was the extent of their awesomeness in 2012.
A lot of that had to do with a lack of productivity from their revolving door at QB and from a smoke and mirrors effort at the running game as well. The 153.2 yards per game average is a bit misleading with the two running backs that started games combining for just over 970 yards.
The point of all of this is that while the numbers look decent for this team, they aren't as competitive as you would assume. Part of that has to do with the fact that they lost to a group of teams that reads like this - Utah, Boise State, Oregon State, Notre Dame, and San Jose State. That alone should tell you exactly all you need to know about how good/bad this team actually was.
Series History: 0-1-0 (28-3 BYU Win in 1980)
Key Losses: Riley Nelson, QB (2,011yds, 13TD's/13INT's passing); Braden Hansen, OL; Braden Brown, OL; Eziekel Ansah, DE (62 tackles, 13tfl's, 4.5 sacks); Romney Fuga, DT (42 tackles, 2.5tfl's, 1.5 sacks); Russell Tialavea, DT (24 tackles); Brandon Ogletree, LB (102 tackles, 13.5tfl's)
Key Returners: Cody Hoffman, WR (100 rec, 1,248yds, 11TD's, 12.1avg); Jamaal Williams, RB (775yds, 12TD's); Michael Alisa, RB (222yds, 1 TD); Kyle Van Noy, LB (53 tackles, 22tfl's, 13 sacks); Daniel Sorenson, KAT (68 tackles, 2tfl's, 3INT's)
WAY Too Early Prediction: Wisconsin 38, BYU 22 - Look, BYU is a decent enough football program, but if you got a chance to see them end their season in 2012 with a seemingly dominate win over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl, this is a team that doesn't scare you, especially on offense. I'd say they aren't even on par with the top of the Mountain West let alone on par with a contender for the Big Ten championship (on paper and way too soon of course). Add in the fact that this one is at home and later in the season and I've got a feeling this is when we're going to be seeing Andersen's team hitting it's stride. Make it 8-1 for the Badgers in a 16 point romp that could be even worse if BYU is what I think they'll be - which is to say rebuilding and not reloading.