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Sunday, December 03, 2023

Badgers open home schedule against Central Michigan: Preview

Central Michigan (1-0) and No. 17 Wisconsin (1-0), two programs that have been playing football since before the turn of the 20th century, will face off for the first time in history Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall.  After a dominant performance on the road at South Florida, the Badgers rose two spots in the AP Poll and have a very favorable matchup against the lowly Chippewas. 

With a week one victory over Albany, Central Michigan already matched their 2018 season win total; they were a disastrous 1-11 last season.  The Chippewas had the fewest first downs in all of the FBS last season, but will start Houston transfer Quinten Dormady at quarterback this week. Dormady threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns in his CMU debut, completing 27 of 37 passses.

Wisconsin enters Saturday’s matchup favored by five touchdowns, which means we could see more of offensive youngsters RB Nakia Watson and QB Chase Wolf late in this one. Watson, the backup running back behind Jonathan Taylor, carried the ball 14 times for 80 yards and a touchdown in the second half at USF. As of right now, he figures to be the heir to the running back throne should Jonathan Taylor leave for the NFL Draft this spring. 

As for Wolf and true freshman Graham Mertz, it’ll be intriguing to see which quarterback will get late reps if the game is out of hand. Wolf took over the final two drives in week one, but didn’t attempt a single pass as the Badgers were simply running out the clock.  

While Wolf already used his redshirt eligibility last fall, Mertz can earn another year and still appear in four games.  With Big Ten play beginning after Wisconsin’s bye week next Saturday, there aren’t too many chances to get the highly-touted Mertz game reps.  This week and week four’s matchup against Kent State figure to be the most likely candidates for the Badger faithful to get a first look at Mertz.   

Wisconsin will be without linebackers Izayah Green-May (right arm) and Chris Orr (right leg), and safety Scott Nelson (left leg) on defense. 

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