Preview: (17) Wisconsin vs Central Michigan

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) vs the Central Michigan Chippewas (1-0)

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The time: 2:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: BTN with Lisa Byington and J Leman in the booth.

The last time: This is the first matchup ever between the two schools

The series: N/A

The line: Wisconsin -35

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

LB Chris Orr (ankle)

OUT

Game:

TE Luke Benzschawel (leg)
OL Logan Bruss (leg)
OLB Izayah Green-May (arm)
S Scott Nelson (leg)
TE Zander Neuville (leg)
NT Bryson Williams (leg)

Season:

WR Cade Green (leg)
TE Gabe Lloyd (leg)
LS Josh Bernhagen (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: 5 THINGS TO WATCH

1) No letdown

Coming off its most lopsided blowout win in 36 years, Wisconsin returns home as 35-point favorites on Central Michigan. How the Badgers follow up that impressive victory could tell us a lot about the makeup of the team. Do they come out and crush another inferior opponent or are they looking ahead to a massive matchup with Michigan in two weeks?

2) Providing some bulletin board material

One reason we may not see a letdown is the fact that Central Michigan, including coach Jim McElwain, decided it was a good idea to make some comments that could be construed as trash talk.

It seems as though some of that got back to the Badgers, with linebacker Chris Orr sending a tweet that appears to reference that “dumb talk.”

Trying to decipher the hashtag #BTFOCM is probably unwise, but we gave folks on Twitter a chance to give their take:

If either of those are accurate, a game that didn’t have much intrigue suddenly has a little bit.

3) Next man up

Wisconsin stayed relatively healthy in fall camp, with tight end Luke Benzschawel the only player to suffer a serious injury. But the Badgers will take the field Saturday down at least four starters and possibly five. What it means, at least at a few spots, is the ability to develop more depth. Watch for backups like nose tackle Keanu Benton, outside linebackers Jaylan Franklin and Noah Burks, inside linebackers Mike Maskalunas and Leo Chenal, safety Colin Wilder and tackle Tyler Beach to see increased snaps.

4) Encore performance?

Jonathan Taylor’s Heisman Trophy campaign got off to a big start last week with 183 total yards and four touchdowns. He did all of that in just 18 touches and none after the first 32 minutes of the game. Central Michigan held FCS Albany to just 45 yards on the ground last week after giving up an average of 204.7 yards per game (104th in the country) last season.

In eight non-conference games he’s started, including bowl games, Taylor is averaging 167 yards on the ground and has scored 12 touchdowns. Expect more of the same on Saturday.

5) Jack Coan’s first home start

Quarterback Jack Coan will be making his sixth career start, but the first at Camp Randall Stadium. The junior was solid in his season debut against South Florida, but it could have been great if he’d hit on one of the two deep balls he threw to Quintez Cephus. It’s something he’s shown he can do in practice, but does need to prove he can do it in games. It’s likely he’ll get a shot to do so Saturday.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

— Wisconsin has won 23 straight home openers. The last loss came to Colorado in 1995.

— Since 2013, Wisconsin is holding non-conference opponents to just 8.9 points per game at Camp Randall Stadium. That includes four shutouts. (@BadgerFootball)

— Nine different players caught at least one pass last week against South Florida. That’s tied for the most by a Wisconsin team in the last three seasons.

ZONE PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 48, Central Michigan 13
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 46, Central Michigan 3
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 49, Central Michigan 10
Nelson’s prediction: Wisconsin 63, Central Michigan 7

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