The Wisconsin Badgers are finally back at Camp Randall Stadium, hosting the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday, with kickoff slated for 2:30 P.M.
While the Badgers are currently projected to win by over 25 points, there are still some intriguing matchups in the game, as well as some players to watch.
Who are my three players to watch for the Badgers against Buffalo?
QB Braedyn Locke
My first option is a player who may not even see the field Saturday in backup quarterback Braedyn Locke.
But, if the score goes as the odds expect, Locke could see some fourth-quarter action, which would be the first time the redshirt freshman has ever stepped on a college field.
We somewhat know what to expect from Mordecai, given the film out there of his past two college seasons, but Locke is an unknown commodity that likely doesn't see the field much, if at all, this season, barring an injury to the starter.
In the non-conference games, Locke could get some playing time, depending on the score, and that could start Saturday, giving us a glimpse of his potential going forward.
TE Tucker Ashcraft
I’ve been including his name a lot, and it’s for a specific reason; tight end Tucker Ashcraft is going to see the field in 2023, arguably the most of any true freshman on the team.
The Badgers currently are in limbo at tight end; they’ve lost Clay Cundiff and Jack Eschenbach, while Cam Large continues to rehab, leaving them with six options on the team.
As a result, given a seemingly strong offseason, Ashcraft has already jumped to the No. 2 tight end spot behind Hayden Rucci, and could see early action in two-tight-end sets.
Ashcraft was a well-regarded blocker coming out of high school, but saw significant refinement in his abilities as a pass-catcher, leading him to be more of a well-rounded player going into college.
Now, I’m curious to see how he responds to the college atmosphere, and he’s a player to watch on Saturday.
OLB C.J. Goetz
C.J. Goetz isn't the flashiest player, but he’s been a well-respected outside linebacker for a few years, and joins the “players to watch” list for Saturday.
Goetz has been seen as a capable run defender, but left some to be desired in the passing game.
However, that could be changing, as reports out of fall camp insinuated some improvement from Goetz in that area.
That, combined with the loss of Nick Herbig, could lead to more pass-rushing opportunities for Goetz, and a chance to showcase his improvements in that area.
Now, my X-Factor in this position group is Jeff Pietrowski, given his previous resume as a pass-rusher with 5.5 sacks at Michigan State in 2021.
But, Goetz is someone to watch, and that begins on Saturday.