It's been said before, but things could not have gone much better for Wisconsin's offense during the first half in its 51-17 win against UNLV Thursday.
The Badgers scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions, but the thing that surprised me a bit about their success was just how quickly it happened. Thanks to several big plays, Wisconsin's first five possessions were less than six plays long and just over two minutes long on average. So much for the grind-it-out style we've grown accustomed to seeing from the Badgers.
Before you read anything else, there's a ton from B5Q's own Adam Hoge who covered the game last night:
Wilson Lives Up To Hype As Badgers Steamroll UNLV - Aaron Henry said it best after the game: "Two words: Russell Wilson."
Wisconsin-UNLV Notebook: Defense Unprepared for Rebels' Offense, And They Admit It: Wondering why the defense looked a step slow Thursday night? They weren't prepared for UNLV's unbalanced looks and no one had a problem admitting it. Adam also notes that Chris Borland was "rusty" and that penalties were a problem. Get your injury updates in the notebook as well.
Even With Wilson, Badgers Still Boast Run-First Offense: Wilson may have shined Thursday night, but Montee Ball and James White reminded us that they are still the focus of the offense. Oh, and Montee Ball might have put himself in the Heisman category when accidentally struck the Heisman pose mid-run.
On to the links:
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg recapped the Badgers' win, echoing sentiments you've likely read here and elsewhere: Russell Wilson is as advertised and Wisconsin's defense needs to improve when it faces better opponents. Rittenberg indicates he too was surprised the the numerous "explosion plays" the UW offense reeled off in the first half.
I wonder if we'll see more such plays as the season continues or if it was just a product of playing against a poor defense. With playmakers like Wilson, Montee Ball, James White and Nick Toon, I wouldn't be surprised if Wisconsin's offense continues to make splash plays and puts up a ton of points in a hurry. This is exciting and all, but I worry about keeping the Badgers' unproven defense on the field too long. UNLV held the ball for nearly 34 minutes Thursday despite losing. Keep an eye on the defense's performance after quick scores, especially in the second half when players' legs aren't necessarily as fresh.
Russell Wilson's head coach and teammates said some awfully nice things about him after his sparkling performance Thursday. It's probably not surprising, then, that many of the stories about Wisconsin's win center around the quarterback. Jim Polzin and Paul Imig both wrote Wilson stories well worth reading, and Michael Hunt concludes that Wilson "fits in" with the Badgers.
Here are the game recaps from Madison.com and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Especially if you disliked ESPN's presentation of the game, be sure to check out Off Tackle Empire's game story too.
CBS Sports' Adam Jacobi notes Wisconsin's defensive struggles in the second half of the win make it easier for Bret Bielema to motivate that unit to get better and avoid complacency. Oh, and he also likens Wilson's second quarter touchdown run to those college football fans saw from Cam Newton so often last season.
Tom Oates gave the Badgers high grades in the win. He also wrote on the importance of the win on a national stage. Bottom line: the Badgers needed to dominate and they did.
Kyle French says he may have messed up his steps on his missed extra point in the first quarter Thursday. He credited the miss in calming his nerves and helping him make his next six kicks.
Be sure to check out Jeff Potrykus' notes and quotes from the game. Bielema discusses his use of key players on special teams and gives updates on injured players. There are also a couple of awesome quotes in there, one from Chris Borland on him not playing on special teams and another from Bielema on his program's development of NFL-caliber offensive linemen.
Here are a couple of nice stories on the Badgers' two-headed monster at running back from Andy Baggot and Gary D'Amato.
Rivals.com's Steve Megargee features Russell Wilson in his winners and losers column for college football's opening day.