Fifth Quarter Consensus: Badgers Get By Sun Devils

The Predictions:

Adam Hoge (+33): Wisconsin 27, Arizona State 17

Jake Harris (+39): Wisconsin 27, Arizona State 21

Adam Tupitza (+41): Wisconsin 34, Arizona State 27

John Veldhuis (+42): Wisconsin 35, Arizona State 17

Phil Mitten (debut): Wisconsin 23, Arizona State 20

 

The Reasoning:

You'll notice only one of the five of us has Wisconsin winning this game by more than two touchdowns, despite the fact that Arizona State has been picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 by several preseason publications.  The Sun Devils have only beaten two FCS teams and conventional wisdom says they will be in over their heads at Camp Randall Stadium.

This game, though, is scary for a number of reasons.  First, the Badgers haven't exactly intimidated anyone themselves by posting back-to-back unimpressive victories over non-BCS teams.  Wisconsin has turned the ball over at inopportune times, failed to convert scoring chances in the red zone and gave up several big pass plays against a bad San Jose State team a week ago.

Secondly, starting wide receivers Nick Toon and David Gilreath both will not play Saturday, the former because of a lingering turf toe injury and the latter after suffering a frightening concussion during last week's game.  It will be up to Isaac Anderson, Jared Abbrederis and Kyle Jefferson to step up in the passing game.  Gilreath's absence also hurts the return game.  Starting right tackle Josh Oglesby also isn't expected to play, but he could. 

All the injuries on offense could spell trouble for Wisconsin against an Arizona State defense that was tops in the conference last season.  Talented but undisciplined linebacker Vontaze Burflict leads an outstanding unit that likes to get upfield quickly.  A strong secondary could cause problems for quarterback Scott Tolzien if he has another shaky performance.

Finally, the Sun Devils' quarterback, Steven Threet, beat the Badgers once before, when he played for Michigan.  Down 19-0 in the third quarter, Threet led a remarkable comeback to defeat Wisconsin 27-25, one of just three wins the Wolverines posted in 2008.  That loss was the beginning of a four-game losing streak for the Badgers.  Threet sat out his transfer year and is now bigger and faster.  The Badger defense needs to contain him and the Sun Devils' fast-paced offense.  ASU head coach Dennis Erickson is 2-0 in Madison with two different teams.

Wisconsin will have to truly earn this win.

 

Who has the edge?

Offense: Wisconsin

Defense: Arizona State

Special Teams: Wisconsin

Coaching: Arizona State

Intangibles: Wisconsin

-Jake Harris

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