How many times will Nick Toon cause Ricardo an episode of sports-induced Tourettes? How many times will Bret Bielema blow up the sideline? Read on to see what Hilary and Ricardo think.
The Badgers’ front seven will record how many big plays (sacks, TFLs, turnovers)? Over-under: 9
Ricardo (under): Lots of the criticism the Badgers received last week was undeserved. Not only was 2009 Freshman of the Year Chris Borland knocking the rust off after playing his first full game in twenty-one months, UNLV came out in an unbalanced pistol that caught the defense by surprise. Consequently the Badgers stayed back in a passive 4-2-5 nickel with the nearest defensive back approximately ten yards off the ball. So, instead of having six or seven players flowing to the ball on plays to the outside as they would in a traditional 4-3 (not including the backside end crashing from behind), the Badgers had three.
This week against Oregon State’s pro-style offense (which Paul Chryst once led), the defense should have a chance to score some real success. The Beavers have four things going against them: 1) A quarterback controversy brewing between Ryan Katz and Sean Mannion, 2) Wisconsin’s depth along the defensive line (ten players rotating), 3) suspect pass protection against world beating Sacramento State, and 4) the distinct likelihood of spending much of the game at least two scores back.
I’m banking Chris Ash tips his hand a little more than he did last week. Kevin Claxton, who looked good blitzing last week, will hit home at least once. Chris Borland, possibly blitzing in the Badger package, and Mike Taylor will combine for three more. Given Oregon State will be throwing, David Gilbert (sack and fumble last week) and Louis Nzegwu (two sacks) will match their total of four big plays. The defensive tackles, going against an experienced albeit banged up offensive front, will make a play or two in the backfield.
Hilary (over): I keep going back and forth on this one. Like Ricardo, I thought a lot of the criticism that the Badgers were subject to in the wake of the game they played was unfair. I mean, when you're up by like 20 at the end of the first quarter, I don't blame the defense for slacking a little bit.
That being said, I have to imagine the talk about a lackluster showing stung a little bit. This is a team that's got its eye on Indianapolis, if not more, and I feel like the defense is going to come out powered up. Against Sac State, Oregon State gave up five big defensive plays in regulation -- with several no gain rushes that could easily have gone for a loss against a more bruising defense. And, with the run game getting stalled, I think the Beavers' QB (whichever one ends up under center) makes some poor throws and gives up an interception or two. With that all in mind, I'm going to say that the Badgers D makes a big impression on Saturday.
Russell Wilson will complete how many passes in double coverage? Over-under: 1.5
Ricardo (under): Really, how many times is Wilson going to put the ball in the air? A few? While Oregon State’s front was solid against Sacramento State (71 yards rushing), Wisconsin’s offensive line (even without Travis Frederick) should push around a defensive line that features two smaller defensive ends and lost Stephen Paea to the NFL. Even if the Badgers face obvious passing situations, Wilson has shown a willingness to make the simple pass. He’ll hit one pass against a zone where two converging defensive backs create the appearance of double coverage.
Hilary (over): Though I expect the Badgers run game to do well on Saturday, I'm really high on Russell Wilson. I feel like he has an even better game this week than he did during the last and threads the needle on throws into double coverage at least twice.
How many total push-ups will Bucky Badger do in the first quarter? Remember, these are cumulative: for example a touchdown (seven) succeeded by a field goal (making the total ten) nets seventeen total pushups. Over-under: 31.5
Ricardo (under): Two touchdowns in the opening quarter translates to twenty-one.
Hilary (over): While Oregon State held Sacramento State scoreless in the first quarter of their game, the Badgers are most definitely not Sacramento State. I think they come out of the gate fast again and put up three TDs against the Beavers in the first quarter alone. Maybe one of those drives starts off of a turnover.
Either way, that makes a rough first quarter for this year's seemingly noodle armed version of Bucky (seriously, did you see those push-ups he was doing during the UNLV game? Seriously. Weak.)... While it isn't quite drop-and-give-me-50 it'll come close...
Nick Toon has a penchant, not simply for dropping the football, but drops that elicit Ricardo to launch into profanity-laced haikus (Nick Toon Drops A Pass; It Would Have Been Good For Six; Damn It Fucking Shit!). How many haikus will Nick Toon cause this week? Over-under: 1
Ricardo (under): Toon looked locked in last week (incredible catch despite pass interference, sustained block on the Wilson touchdown run). He seems, based on a sample size of one game, to have good chemistry with the new quarterback, and will be playing against a young secondary pre-occupied with the run. We’ll give the son of the ex-player the benefit of the doubt and gamble he doesn’t drop any.
Hilary (over): Much as I hope that the version of Nick Toon we saw this past week is the one we'll get all season (2009 numbers anyone??) I'm not entirely convinced. I want to see more of this locked in version before I'm ready to gamble on him being the best receiving weapon the badgers have this year. So I think that Toon drops at least two catchable passes in Saturday's game. He'll still have a good overall game though.
While Nick Mangold rules the photo-bomb, Bret Bielema trails no one when it comes to the sideline bomb. How many times will the camera catch the ex-Hawkeye defensive tackle sprinting down the sideline to get someone’s (either his own players’ or the officials’) attention? Over-under: 1
Ricardo (over): Once to complain about a questionable call, once to call a timeout when he sees the wrong personnel on the field.
Hilary (under): Though it's true that Bielema has a hilarious habit of running down the field so fast you'd think they were about to run out of Spotted Cow, I feel like this game against Oregon State is so in the bag that he'll have a... calm... experience on the sidelines. So I'm going to gamble and say that this week is the one in which we don't see a Bielema-sprint on camera.