Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Bulldog rematch will provide better test

football: Junior quaterback Scott Tolzien will share starting quarterback duties with redshirt freshman Curt P

Bulldog rematch will provide better test

Just a year after clinging on to a three-point lead in front of a record crowd in Fresno, Calif., Wisconsin will look to replicate last year's result with a different attack when they square off against Fresno State Saturday.

Last year, the No. 21 Bulldogs outgained the No. 10 Badgers by nearly 40 yards and would likely have won the game had Fresno State kicker Kevin Goessling not captured the heart of Badger fans everywhere by missing three field goals.

The two programs once again find themselves in similar situations this year.

Both teams are coming off  underwhelming 7-6 seasons that fell well shy of lofty preseason expectations, and this season neither has sniffed the national rankings. More significantly, both teams run basically the same pro style offense that relies heavily on power running and solid blocking.

""We are similar [offensively], our kids all said this is like playing against ourselves,"" defensive coordinator Dave Doeren said. ""And that's good they have those similarities, especially in a week like this.""

The two offenses are also both in the process of integrating junior quarterbacks that had little to no collegiate experience coming into this season. Fresno State's Ryan Colburn, who played sparingly as a freshman in 2007 and didn't play at all last year, led the Bulldogs to a 51-0 victory last week over UC-Davis by passing for 161 yards and a touchdown. Similarly, Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien threw for 257 yards and a touchdown in Wisconsin's 28-20 nail-biter victory over Northern Illinois last Saturday.

Starters aside, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and his Fresno State counterpart Pat Hill must be using the same ingredients in cooking up recruiting classes. After all, the Bulldogs have redshirt freshman Ebahn Feathers backing up Colburn to match Wisconsin's Curt Phillips as a fleet-footed change-of-pace quarterback with oodles of potential. Also, Derek Carr of Fresno State and Jon Budmayr of Wisconsin are both true freshman quarterbacks that represent the future for the two programs.

But Saturday all eyes will be on the present as the Wisconsin defense faces the tall task of shutting down a powerful running team in Fresno State. According to Doeren, the key to stopping the Fresno State offensive attack is containing the Bulldogs' stable of fast and powerful skill position players highlighted by electric junior running back Ryan Matthews.

""They have great speed, they have three really talented receivers and they have two or three running backs that can go,"" Doeren said. ""They're fast, you got to keep them inside and in front and don't let them get away from you.""

On the Wisconsin side of the ball, all the attention will once again be on Tolzien and Phillips as they continue to split time as conductors of the offense. Bielema said Monday that he has no plans to use the two any differently Saturday than he did against Northern Illinois after coming away impressed with the play of both quarterbacks.

""Tolzien really handled and managed the game well, and I like the way Curt came off the bench,"" Bielema said. ""So we're going to stick with the same game plan.""

Quarterback battles aside, Saturday's game is once again a pivotal one for two programs vying to regain respect on the national stage.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

 —Ben Breiner contributed to this report.


Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal