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Sunday, June 16, 2024
5 things to watch versus Fresno State

5 things to watch versus Fresno State


Quarterback Carousel

Heading into the season opener, Bret Bielema made it clear that both Scott Tolzien and Curt Phillips would see playing time against NIU. The question was, how much? Bielema made it pretty apparent however who his number one quarterback is.  Tolzien played in all but two of Wisconsin's series, completing 15 of 20 passes for 257 yards, the most ever by a Wisconsin quarterback making his first start. His 80 yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage certainly made a huge impression from the beginning. He also threw two interceptions, one that was, debatably, not his fault, and the other coming at a pivotal point in the game, allowing the Huskies to sneak back into the contest.  Curt Phillips, too, was solid. However, it's hard to make much of a judgment when he directed just 16 plays, gaining 24 yards through the air, and 34 on the ground. Both quarterbacks will see playing time this week against Fresno State, but look for Bielema to keep the brunt of work on the shoulders of Tolzien.



It was only a year ago when the Badgers marched into Fresno State facing their first real test of the 2008 season. The 10th ranked Badgers edged out the 21st ranked Bulldogs by only a field goal, surviving a 13-10 win. In fact, Fresno State could have very easily come away with the win, missing three field goals in the game. The Bulldogs return 18 starters from a season ago, so last year's game is certainly still etched into the minds of players. Wisconsin, on the other hand has a new quarterback (or two), and PJ Hill is no longer the main back. The receiving core also has changed for the Badgers, and so Fresno State will, in fact, be matching up against a much different (or at least changed) Wisconsin team this season. Saturday will definitely be a highly charged and emotional contest with the memories of last season's game still fresh.


Bulldogs Run Loose

Fresno State may have a new quarterback at the helm, but the Bulldogs return their top four rushers from last season. This certainly showed in their 51-0 win last week against UC-Davis, as Fresno State rushed for 310 yards, on 52 carries, for 5 touchdowns. The ball went air-born just 13 times. Ryan Mathews, Lonyae Miller, and freshman Robbie Rouse all shared time carrying the ball for Fresno State, combining for 227 yards in 29 carries, 7.8 yards per carry. Last week, the Wisconsin defense allowed NIU just 100 yards (2.9 per carry) on the ground. However, they will certainly have their hands full against Fresno State this Saturday as they attempt to slow down the Bulldog's daunting ground attack.

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Four Quarters

The Badger defense apparently was under the impression this past week that there were only 3 quarters in football. There are, in fact, five quarters in a Wisconsin game, four of which are spent playing football. NIU spent the final 12 minutes of last week's contest ripping apart the Wisconsin defense, racking up almost half their total yardage during that time. The Huskies scored two touchdowns, a two point conversion, and recovered an onside kick, setting up a potentially game winning drive that was finally stopped by the excellent play of Chris Maragos. This week, the Badgers better come ready to play against a tough, aggressive Fresno State team that will certainly stay fresh through all four quarters, especially with their depth in the running game.



The illness is running rampant across campus faster than Ron Dayne in a Rose Bowl. Now, it seems it might have latched onto the football team as well. Although it may not be the H1N1 virus itself, there are certainly a number of Wisconsin players falling sick. Many members of the team have come down with flu like symptoms, and practice has been lighter this week in wake of the illnesses. UW officials have been preparing for this possibility for a number of weeks now, and they are attempting to control the spread by isolating sick players. Bret Bielema certainly isn't using it as an excuse though, and he expects every player to perform this week in practice, and that the team will be fully prepared to face Fresno State on Saturday.

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