Sep 15, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (2) signals during the fourth quarter against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Utah State, 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
After a narrow, two-point victory over Utah State in a game they probably should have lost, the Badgers move ahead to the final non-conference game of the season against UTEP. The Miners are just 1-2 but have held their own in losses to #4 Oklahoma (24-7) and Ole Miss (28-10). They then exploded for 41 points against New Mexico State.
The biggest story for Wisconsin is Joel Stave, a redshirt freshman and former walk-on who will make his first career start at quarterback Saturday. He replaces Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien, who had trouble protecting the football. Bret Bielema's stated desire to get back to "Wisconsin football" on offense has now led to the firing of an offensive line coach and the benching of a quarterback. At the very least, you have to credit for Bielema for being proactive.
Stave, who completed 2-of-6 passes in the second half against the Aggies, takes over an offense ranked 117th in passing yards per game. The good news is he faces a defense that gives up 26.7 points per game as he tries to integrate himself into the UW offense.
One week after largely containing Utah State dual-threat quarterback Chuckie Keeton, the Badgers will look to slow down senior Nick Lamaison and the UTEP offense. Lamaison is a pocket passer who has only completed 54.5 percent of his passes this season. He has yet to throw an interception, however, and the Wisconsin defense, amazingly, has yet to record a turnover.
Sophomore running back Nathan Jeffery (8.4 yards per carry) and freshman tailback Autrey Golden (5.2 ypc) form a potent rushing attack, but the Badgers have been stout against the run thus far this season. Look for senior linebacker Mike Taylor to build on his 36 tackles, good for second in the Big Ten.
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