The reviews are done, ova, gone. The past is the past and now it’s time to look forward. This is the first in a 12-article series where we thoroughly preview each of the Badgers 12 regular season games.
To start off, in a sensical manner, is week one against Utah State.
Friday, September 1, 2017
Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
8 p.m. CT; ESPN
Lowdown on the Aggies
Ranked 93 in the nation by Athlon, Utah State is in the rare position–as of late–where it is forced rebound from a poor season, finishing 3-9. Prior to 2016, the Aggies had qualified for six-straight bowl games.
Lots of Turnover
For most teams, returning only eight starters may be cause for concern but when considering the Aggies lost a considerable amount from a 3-win team, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world.
Unfortunately still for the Aggies, though, they aren’t bringing in an exciting core of recruits. By 247 sports, Utah State’s class ranks 10th in the conference and 112 overall.
The most critical aspect of the Aggies rebuild in terms of their matchup with Wisconsin and their attempt to return to the postseason in the tough Mountain Division of the Mountain West is their new-look offensive and defensive lines.
How They Compare to the Badgers
Simply, the Aggies finished 91st nationally in run defense in 2016. In 2016, Utah State is without its top three tacklers from 2016. Wisconsin is good at running the football. If you’re able to add those two facts together, you’d tend to give the advantage to the Badgers.
The Aggies do sport a true talent at running back in senior Tonny Lindsey who was named to the Doak Walker watch list in July. In addition, senior quarterback Kent Myers is dynamic in the rush game as well. He was close to 500 yards a season ago and wrangled himself six touchdowns.
With that said, the Badgers’ rush defense may be the strongest area on the entirety of this Wisconsin team. From the defensive line to the linebackers, to big-hitting safety D’cota Dixon, the Badgers have the ability to neutralize the nation’s strongest rushing attacks so they should handle the Aggies attack.
The Aggies do have one area that should give the Badgers some grief and it is their defensive secondary. According to Deseret News, a lot is expected of the Aggies’ corners and safeties. The Aggies sport a 4-year starter at one corner position and a highly touted BYU-transfer on the other side. The Deseret News preview indicated that the unit also has tremendous depth.
That top-level skill and overall depth in the secondary can cause difficulties for what was an inconsistent passing attack in 2016. I suppose we won’t know to what degree the passing game has improved until September 1, but when considering the 2016 incarnation of the passing attack, the Aggies pass defense can stall the Wisconsin passing attack.
According to Sports Reference, The Badgers and Aggies have met twice previously with the Aggies winning in 1968 and the Badgers winning in 2012.
Without a strong and experienced offensive/defensive line, I don’t see the Aggies having much of a chance against the Badgers. Although the Aggies will be able to cause some issues for the Badgers’ passing game, the Badgers’ secondary will cause significant difficulties for the turnover-prone Myers.
Wisconsin-35, Utah State-10