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Fifth Quarter Consensus: Badgers run over Rebels

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The Predictions:

Adam Hoge: Wisconsin 41, UNLV 10

Phil Mitten: Wisconsin 48, UNLV 13

Chuck Schwartz: Wisconsin 41, UNLV 13

Jake Harris: Wisconsin 52, UNLV 13

John Veldhuis: Wisconsin 45, UNLV 13

Adam Tupitza: Wisconsin 41, UNLV 17

Louis Bien: Wisconsin 48, UNLV 10

Sam Zastrow: Wisconsin 48, UNLV 17

The Reasoning:

UNLV was bad last season and heads into 2011 without several key starters from a year ago. The Rebels have a new quarterback, Caleb Herring, who attempted just 56 passes in 2010 but still managed to take nine sacks and throw three interceptions.

 

Inexperience also defines the UNLV offensive line. The Rebels start freshmen at left tackle and center, and that has to have Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge's guys licking their chops.

The only favorable match-up for UNLV when its offense has the ball might be the Rebel receivers against the Badgers' secondary. Wideout Phillip Payne (6-3, 205 pounds) and tight end Anthony Vidal (6-5, 250 pounds) are big, physical targets and both are seniors.

UNLV could start as many as five underclassmen on defense. That bodes well for Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in his first start as a Badger. Despite receiving universally positive reviews during fall camp, the fact remains that Wilson has only been on campus a couple of months and it may take some time for the offense to click. Even last season's record-setting unit took a few games to get going.

None of that is likely to matter Thursday night, however. The porous Rebel defense combined with the unique opportunity the Badgers have to showcase the strength of their team on national television in a primetime game will ensure that motivation is high and execution uncomplicated.

Fun Facts

UNLV has lost its last nine road games by an average of 34.5 points per game.

Wisconsin has won its season opener every year since 1998.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Wisconsin

Defense: Wisconsin

Special Teams: Wisconsin

Coaching: Wisconsin

Intangibles: Wisconsin