The teams: The No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) vs the New Mexico Lobos (1-0)
The time: 11 a.m. CDT, Saturday
The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
The TV coverage: Big Ten Network with Brandon Gaudin and Glen Mason in the booth and Elise Menaker on the sideline.
The last time: This is the first meeting between the two schools
The series: N/A
The line: Wisconsin -35.5
The Badgers injury report:
K P.J. Rosowski (leg)
TE Zander Neuville (leg)
TE Luke Benzschawel (leg)
DE Kraig Howe (leg)
ILB Mike Maskalunas (leg)
S Reggie Pearson (leg)
RB Bradrick Shaw (leg)
DL Garrett Rand (achilles)
OL Blake Smithback (leg)
LB Mason Platter (leg)
WR Danny Davis
WR Quintez Cephus
THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1) Get it rolling
Wisconsin ran for 234 yards against Western Kentucky, but it was far from a dominating effort. Save for a couple of long touchdown runs by Jonathan Taylor, the Badgers struggled to open up running lanes. It was a bit surprising to see considering the talent on the offensive line and all the hype entering the year. They’ll have a chance to get back on track against New Mexico, which gave up 244 yards on the ground to Incarnate Word, an FCS team.
2) Welcome back
After missing the opener last week, tight end Zander Neuville and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk are expected to play on Saturday. It’s unclear how many snaps either will get, but their return is significant. Teammates and coaches refer to Neuville as a sixth offensive lineman because of his run blocking, while Loudermilk is the most complete defensive end on a roster that is thin on capable players at the position.
3) Encore performance
Tight end Jake Ferguson and safety Scott Nelson were the biggest bright spots among the young players a week ago. Ferguson had four catches, all of which went for first downs, while Nelson had seven tackles, a tackle for loss and almost his first interception. It feels like both are just scratching the surface of their potential and figure to play a prominent role this week and for the rest of the season.
4) True freshmen watch
The Badgers used five true freshmen in Week 1 — wide receivers Aron Cruickshank and Taj Mustapha, safety Travian Blaylock, defensive tackle Bryson Williams and cornerback Donte Burton. There’s a possibility we see more against New Mexico, including cornerback Rachad Wildgoose and linebacker Jack Sanborn. Remember, for the first time, players can play up to four games and are still eligible to redshirt.
5) Protect the ball
Only Illinois turned the ball over more among Big Ten teams last season than Wisconsin, so ball security was a major point of emphasis in the offseason. That was especially true for Jonathan Taylor, whose brilliant freshman campaign overshadowed his propensity to fumble. The early returns weren’t great, as the Heisman Trophy hopefull lost another fumble last week. He’s got to get that under control or he’ll likely see his carries.
As for quarterback Alex Hornibrook, he’s thrown 63 passes since his last interception, the second-longest streak of his career.
NUMBERS TO CONSIDER
Kicker Rafael Gaglianone is sitting three made field goals short of the school record currently held by Todd Gregoire.
Wisconsin signed 44 players in the 2015 and 2016 classes combined. Of those, 15 are no longer with the program, including three — Dontye Carriere-Williams, Arrington Farrar and Patrick Johnson — that left just days before this season started.
The Badgers have won 19 straight regular season games, with the last loss coming to Ohio State in October of 2016.
Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 55, New Mexico 10
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 49, New Mexico 7
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 63, New Mexico 0
Danny Cunningham’s prediction: Wisconsin 56, New Mexico 10