Tennessee Tech (1-0) at (21) Wisconsin (1-0)
Saturday, September 7, 12:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Gary Andersen hopes to stay unbeaten as the coach of the Badgers on Saturday when No. 21 Wisconsin hosts the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium.
Watson Brown begin the seventh year of his tenure at Tennessee Tech with a 63-7 victory over Cumberland, an NAIA school. TTU won the Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2011, but injuries prevented it from repeating and it finished 2012 with a 3-8 record. The Golden Eagles faced a ranked FBS foe last season and they were unable to pull off the unexpected upset, losing 63-14 at Oregon. Brown has compiled a 29-39 record during his time at TTU.
Andersen's debut with the Badgers couldn't have went better as they coasted to a 45-0 decision over Massachusetts. Wisconsin had three running backs reach the 100-yard plateau in the contest for the second time in three games after failing to do so in the first 1,170 games of its history. Andersen guided Utah State to the WAC championship and a victory in the Potato Bowl in 2012. The Badgers have began the season 2-0 in nine consecutive years.
Wisconsin is 11-0 against FCS opponents. It has never before faced TTU, which is 0-8 against FBS programs under Brown. The Badgers have defeated 27 consecutive non-conference opponents at home.
TTU completely overpowered its NAIA opponent in week one, amassing 505 yards of total offense while limiting Cumberland to just 179 yards. The Golden Eagles have gone over the 500 yards of total offense mark six times under Brown. Junior quarterback Darian Stone was sharp, completing 8-of-11 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wideout Krys Cates racked up a team-high 63 receiving yards on two catches.
Nine different Golden Eagles took a handoff in the lopsided win. Starting tailback Stephen Bush produced 51 yards and a touchdown on just six attempts. Junior running back Cody Forbes tallied a team-high 69 yards on eight carries.
Sophomore running back Ladarius Vanlier also made a big impact as he accounted for 188 all-purpose yards and set a new school record with his 93-yard punt return for a score. He was selected as the OVC's Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
The Golden Eagles were able to post 407.4 yards of total offense and 31.6 points per game in 2012. Andersen is aware of how dangerous they can be with their athletic corps of skill players.
"Tennessee Tech, wide open offense now. They've got some kids that can run. They're a skillful group and had their ups and downs," said Andersen. "Obviously, the first week they scored a bunch of points and showed that they are a true spread offense. They give you everything that they can possibly do to spread the field north and south and east and west. Did a very good job of that in the first game. So it will be a big, big challenge."
Their defensive unit was very weak though. TTU allowed 466.3 yards and 39.4 points per contest. It played very well in its opener from start to finish.
With 71 players seeing action in the game, 32 different Golden Eagles made tackles. With so many players seeing action, nobody posted big numbers. Sophomore Bill Dillard and junior Tra'Darius Goff led the tackle chart with seven stops each.
Wisconsin's rushing attack is once again one of the best in the nation. Running backs Melvin Gordon (144 yards), James White (143) and Corey Clement (101) all had spectacular showings in the opener versus UMass. White is the leading active rusher among FBS running backs with 2,714 career yards. Clement became the first true freshman to surpass the century mark in the opener in school history.
The Badgers converted 8-of-11 third downs and racked up 598 yards of total offense. Joel Stave finished 9-of-17 for 197 yards and added a rushing score while Jared Abbrederis caught a pair of touchdown passes en route to 122 yards receiving. Abbrederis is averaging 17.3 yards per catch for his career, which leads all active FBS players.
First-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's new-look defense held up against UMass. The Badgers were one of just two FBS programs to earn a shutout win over an FBS foe in week one. The Minutemen averaged just 3.7 yards per pass attempt and crossed midfield just three times.
Chris Boland led Wisconsin with nine total stops. Sejour Shelton registered his first interception of the season and Brendan Kelly forced a fumble.
"A couple young players of note that played well," said Andersen after the win. "I thought Sojourn came in and played well. Ethan, although far from a young player, did a tremendous job of being injured in camp and then coming back and playing the way that he played in that game. Just a couple things there."
Wisconsin's power rushing attack is going to be difficult to derail for TTU. Although the Golden Eagles have some offensive firepower, their effectiveness will be limited by the Badgers' tenacious defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 56, Tennessee Tech 10
09/04 10:38:56 ET