Utah State vs. Wisconsin
The Aggies look to make a statement in Madison
Will Utah State be able to pull off the biggest win in school history?
It’s the first game of the season for the Utah State Aggies, but no doubt it is going to be their toughest. USU nearly pulled off an upset over the Wisconsin Badgers back in 2012, but things will be much different this time around. It will be the both the first game of the season and the first road game of the year for the Aggies. Going into Camp Randall Stadium and winning is easier said than done, but that’s what this team is looking to do.
Wisconsin came up just short of a Big Ten Championship last season but impressed through most of the season, including an upset of fifth-ranked LSU at Lambeau Field in Week One. The Badgers will be looking to build off of last season’s success and look to make a run at the College Football Playoff.
Conference: Big Ten (West Division)
2016 Record: 11-3 (7-2 Big Ten)
Coach: Paul Chryst, 3rd season at Wisconsin (21-6 overall, 13-4 in Big Ten)
Final AP Top 25 Rank: 9
Offense: QB Alex Hornibrook (sophomore)
Hornibrook is coming off his freshman season that was cut short due to injury. Last season, he threw for 1,262 yards, which was the second-best mark by a Wisconsin freshman, while adding nine touchdowns and seven interceptions in a part-time role with the Badgers offense.
Hornibrook will look to build off his success from last season before he went down, and the coaching staff has been happy with his progress returning from injury. The big question will be how much success him and the Badgers will have in the Big Ten this season.
Defense: S Derrick Tindal (senior)
Tindal started all 14 games for the Badgers last season at cornerback. He had a total of 34 tackles to go along with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. In his senior season, Tindal will continue to be one of the more athletic safeties for the Badgers. Combined with his speed, he could very well improve his numbers in a big way. But he’ll have some tough competition once the Badgers begin conference play.
Wisconsin is one of the biggest powerhouses in the Big Ten, and they are a big a threat as any to not only win the conference, but to possibly earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The key will be how they do in conference play. They only have three games total out of conference, which are winnable. The good news is they do not face Ohio State or Penn State this season, so they have a reasonable chance of making a big run. But it will not be easy as they do have games against Michigan and Nebraska, both of which made noise last season as well. If Hornibrook and the offense can keep it consistent, they may just come out on top.
Utah State is coming off a 3-9 season, but the team is hopeful that a turnaround is in the books. The game against Wisconsin will provide a chance to see what needs the team needs to address and could allow some playing time for players further down on the depth chart. The homer in me is pulling for an upset, but I’m going to speak from my realist side.
Camp Randall is one of the toughest places to play in all of college football, and Wisconsin is a playoff caliber team. The Aggies will be able to put some points on the board, but the Badgers have too many weapons on both sides of the ball. Anything can happen, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing an upset in this one.
Wisconsin 38, Utah State 17