Fifth Quarter Consensus: Wisconsin rolls to 2-0 start

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

What do our writers think will happen in Saturday's non-conference matchup against Tennessee Tech?

The Predictions:

Mike Fiammetta (+7): Wisconsin 55, Tennessee Tech 14

Andrew Rosin (+7): Wisconsin 49, Tennessee Tech 7

Jake Harris (+9): Wisconsin 58, Tennessee Tech 7

Phil Mitten (+10): Wisconsin 45, Tennessee Tech 9

Andy Johnson (+12): Wisconsin 45, Tennessee Tech 10

Jake Kocorowski (+20): Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 17

Louis Bien (+32): Wisconsin 60, Tennessee Tech 14

The Reasoning:

After cruising to a 45-0 shutout of UMass a week ago, the Badgers turn their attention to Tennessee Tech, an FCS team out of the Ohio Valley Conference that rolled up 63 points on its way to a season-opening win over NAIA foe Cumberland.

Expect the Golden Eagles to find the challenge that awaits them in Madison a bit more daunting. While they are coached by Watson Brown, the brother of Texas head coach Mack Brown, the Golden Eagles do not figure to be winning any national championships of their own in the near future, even at the FCS level.

Brown is 0-8 against FBS programs during his tenure at Tennessee Tech, including blowout losses to Arkansas, TCU and Oregon.

Against an overmatched Cumberland team last week, junior quarterback Darian Stone led the way for the Golden Eagles, completing 8-of-11 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Stone also rushed for 31 yards and two scores.

Stone spread the ball around to five different receivers and hit junior wideout Cody Matthews three times for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Five players ran the ball at least six times for Tech, and junior running back Cody Forbes led the team with 69 yards on eight carries.

While the Eagles racked up 505 yards of offense and 26 first downs against Cumberland, they likely do not have the athletes to keep up with Wisconsin.

The Badgers kept things vanilla against UMass in the opener, electing not to put some of the blitzes and stunts that will become staples of their new 3-4 defense on film. Senior linebacker Conor O'Neill will replace injured starter Derek Landisch this week, but otherwise the unit remains intact.

Sophomore safety Michael Caputo was particularly solid last week after winning the job late in camp, true freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton recorded his first career interception, and linebackers Chris Borland and Brendan Kelly combined to force a fumble, which was recovered by Ethan Armstrong.

Expect Stone and the Eagles to have a tough time generating points against a defense that took great pride in recording a shutout against the Minutemen.

Three running backs gained over 100 yards for Wisconsin against Massachusetts and all three scored touchdowns. There is no reason to believe that Tennessee Tech's defense will have any success slowing down James White, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement.

While the result of this game is likely a foregone conclusion, Badger fans will pay particular attention to sophomore quarterback Joel Stave's performance, particularly in the first half. Stave got off to a slow start against the Minutemen and did not look sharp in completing 4-of-11 passes for 36 yards with an ugly interception in the first 30 minutes.

He rebounded nicely, hitting senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for two long touchdowns in the second half, but such a start against better competition could put the Badgers in a hole from which they may not recover.

Stave will look to develop consistency and comfort in this final tuneup before a huge road game at Arizona State.

Head coach Gary Andersen was not pleased with the play of his special teams units against UMass. Kicker Kyle French hooked a field goal attempt, while the coverage units looked shaky at times as well. Expect a better effort this week.

One of the hallmarks of the UW program under former head coach Bret Bielema was beating convincingly those teams they should beat convincingly. Time will tell whether Andersen has similar success against inferior opponents, but it would be easy for the Badgers to get caught looking ahead to their showdown in the desert and put on an underwhelming performance against the Eagles as a result.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Wisconsin

Defense: Wisconsin

Special teams: Wisconsin

Coaching: Wisconsin

Intangibles: Tennessee Tech

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