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Fifth Quarter Consensus: Badgers' O-Line Gels In Win Over Aggies

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Presswire

The Predictions:

Sahil Shah (+54): Wisconsin 24, Utah State 13

Nathan Palm (+61): Wisconsin 17, Utah State 16

Adam Tupitza (+64): Wisconsin 30, Utah State 17

Jake Harris (+65): Wisconsin 24, Utah State 10

Phil Mitten (+67): Wisconsin 27, Utah State 20

Andy Johnson (+70): Wisconsin 27, Utah State 14

Mike Fiammetta (+72): Wisconsin 34, Utah State 24

Andrew Rosin (+79): Wisconsin 29, Utah State 27

Jack Moore: Wisconsin 24, Utah State 17

Louis Bien: Wisconsin 34, Utah State 10

The Reasoning:

It feels fraudulent to publicly make predictions about the way the Wisconsin football team will perform this weekend with the implication that we somehow know any more than you do at this point. No one predicted the Badgers would go close to 58 and a half minutes without scoring a point on a middling Pac-12 team the way they did against Oregon State in Corvallis last weekend. Equally unpredictable was head coach Bret Bielema's immediate firing of new offensive line coach Mike Markuson just two games into a disappointing 2012 campaign.

Bart Miller inherits that job and, 27 years old or not, it is his assignment to return a talented unit to the level it was at under former assistant coach Bob Bostad. On the other side of the line will be a Utah State defense that ranks 18th in the country in giving up just 11.5 points per game. The Aggies are a surprising 2-0 after wins over in-state rivals Southern Utah and Utah, which gives them one more victory over an FBS opponent than the Badgers have.

This is still a night game at Camp Randall Stadium, however, where the Badgers are 51-4 since 2004. Utah State is a solid team, but it would take a monumental effort to upset Wisconsin, even with the problems UW currently faces.

Quarterback Danny O'Brien looked anything but solid against the Beavers and he will face a defense that likes to mix up its coverage schemes. Defensive end Jordan Nielsen tallied two sacks against Utah and the depth at key spots is impressive.

Complicating matters for Wisconsin is that number one receiver Jared Abbrederis may miss the game. He was taken to an Oregon hospital during last week's game after taking a hard hit to the chest. Running back Montee Ball will need to find holes behind the reinvigorated line, while complementary pass catchers Jordan Fredrick, Jacob Pedersen and Kenzel Doe must emerge.

The Aggies boast a talented quarterback in sophomore Chuckie Keeton, who has thrown for 520 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception through two games. He has completed 77.2 percent of his passes this season, and he rushed 17 times for 86 yards against the Utes. His favorite target is senior wide receiver Matt Austin, who has already caught seven balls for 147 yards. UW defenders will need to read and react quickly.

Punter Drew Meyer has been one of the few bright spots for the Badgers. Everyone from Bielema on down hopes he won't have as many opportunities to showcase his skills Saturday night.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Utah State

Defense: Wisconsin

Special Teams: Wisconsin

Coaching: Wisconsin

Intangibles: Wisconsin