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Wilson Lives Up To Hype As Badgers Steamroll UNLV

MADISON, Wis. -- Aaron Henry couldn't have said it better:

"Two words: Russell Wilson. I mean, the guy put on a show. His ability speaks for himself."

The Badgers free safety had the pleasure of watching Wilson's first game as a Badger from the sideline and, like the 77,085 fans in attendance, walked away amazed.

With all the hype that has gathered since Wilson transferred to Wisconsin, it was almost impossible for the quarterback to live up to it in the Badgers' 51-17 win over UNLV Thursday night.

And yet he did.

"I’ve never seen someone take charge like he did," junior running back Montee Ball said. "That man is making some phenomenal plays out there, especially on his feet. He’s a great playmaker and is getting the job done"

The statsheet doesn't look much different than it did when Scott Tolzien was quarterback last year. Wisconsin ran the ball 38 times and only threw it 15 times. Wilson finished the game 10-for-13 -- very Tolzien-esque.

Oh, except that he racked up 255 yards in those 10 completions, good for 25.5 yards per completion. Oh, and he ran for 63 yards on two rushing attempts, one of which was a ridiculous 46-yard touchdown run in which he went into second, and then third gear.

"That was crazy. He kind of made me look bad when I got hogged down on mine," Ball said, referring to a second quarter swing pass he took 63-yards before getting dragged down at the three-yard line.

Wilson's touchdown run -- which was also the longest run of his career -- came on a designed passing play in which he tucked the ball when he ran out of passing options and took off.

"I thought I could outrun the defenders, but I was just trying to get the first down," Wilson, who admitted he was emotional walking out of the tunnel, said. "Nothing was really open down field so I was just trying to get something positive. We made some key blocks down field. I know Nick (Toon) made one on the 2-3 yard line that mean get in the end zone, so that was crucial."

Wide receiver Jeff Duckworth also made a nice block to spring Wilson.

"The receivers can make big plays happen down the field," Toon said. "On pass plays, hopefully you get the ball, but that’s not always the case and if the receivers can have success blocking down field it can create big plays and put points on the board."

Skeptics will remind excited fans that the Badgers were playing a UNLV defense that ranked towards the bottom in almost every defensive category last season and doesn't look much better this year. That point is fair, but the bottom line is that the Wisconsin offense looked as advertised and then some.

"It’s a special group and you know what? I think it’s a group that stays hungry so it’s going to be fun to watch them grow," head coach Bret Bielema said.

Of course it helps to have a mauling offensive line, which looked just as good as last year's line despite two new starters.

"I don’t think I got touched at all today, which is pretty unbelievable," Wilson said. "The offensive line did a great job. They’re tremendous up there, gotta keep getting better, but they really are special up front."