The teams: The Georgia State Panthers (0-2) vs the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0)
The time: 11:00 a.m. CDT, Saturday
The place: Camp Randall Stadium
The TV coverage: Big Ten Network with Brandon Gaudin and Chuck Long in the booth.
The last time: This is the first meeting between the two schools
The series: N/A
The line: Wisconsin -35
The Badgers injury report:
CB Natrell Jamerson (leg) — OUT
CB Caesar Williams (leg) — OUT
WR Reggie Love (infection) — OUT
LG Jon Dietzen (leg) — OUT
DE Billy Hirschfeld (leg) — OUT
LB Nick Thomas (leg) — OUT
RB Corey Clement (ankle) — QUESTIONABLE
THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1) Trap game?
A week after pounding Akron, and just seven days away from opening the Big Ten season on the road at Michigan State, the Badgers must avoid getting caught looking ahead when they welcome Georgia State to town. Wisconsin’s players have said all the right things this week, but their actions will tell the true story. They are a much more talented team than the Panthers, but that gap can be lessened if the Badgers fail to bring the same energy and focus that they’ve shown in the first two weeks of the season.
2) Injury replacements
Wisconsin will go into the game shorthanded, especially in the defensive backfield, where they’ll be without cornerbacks Natrell Jamerson and Caesar Williams due to injury. Who replaces Jamerson in the nickel package remains to be seen, though the Badgers will likely go with junior Lubern Figaro, or play three safeties, with sophomore Arrington Farrar joining starters Leo Musso and D’Cota Dixon.
It’s unclear if running back Corey Clement will play. He’s dealing with ankle injury and was limited throughout the week in practice. If he can’t go, senior Dare Ogunbowale, sophomore Taiwan Deal and redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw will share the workload.
With redshirt freshman Jon Dietzen out, sophomore Micah Kapoi will likely get his second start at left guard.
It also appears that freshman A.J. Taylor will serve as Wisconsin’s kick returner in place of Jamerson.
3) Avoiding mistakes
Quarterback Bart Houston has made his share of big plays in his first two starts, but he’s also been burned by some questionable decision making. He was intercepted twice in the opener against LSU, and Akron should have had a couple picks last week.
The biggest issue for Houston appears to be the confidence he has in his arm. Easily the hardest thrower on Wisconsin’s roster, the fifth-year senior will try to fit passes into tight areas that he probably shouldn’t. Sometimes it leads to big plays, like his 34-yard touchdown to Jazz Peavy last week, and sometimes it’s disastrous, like the pick-6 he threw against LSU.
“We have to live with some of his mistakes,” wide receiver Rob Wheelwright said this week. “But if he continues to throw more touchdowns than bad passes, we’re fine with that, and we’ll be happy.”
Still, if Wisconsin is going to capitalize on their hot start, they’ll need Houston to be better with ball security.
4) More playing time for young guys
If the game plays out the way many expect, with Wisconsin building a substantial lead and coasting to a win, there should be plenty of time for some of the younger players to get playing time just like they did a week ago.
While those reps will serve as building blocks for future seasons, there are several players that could put those snaps to good use this year. Guys like quarterback Alex Hornibrook and running back Bradrick Shaw, along with wide receivers Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor, all might be needed to play bigger roles at some point this season.
Hornibrook looked good in his first collegiate action, going 5 of 5 for 61 yards and a touchdown last week, while Shaw broke off a 31-yard touchdown and finished with 74 yards on the ground. Cephus and Taylor each saw time against LSU, but it wasn’t until last week that they each caught their first passes.
On defense, look for nose tackle Garrett Rand, linebacker Griffin Grady and safety Patrick Johnson all to see more snaps if Wisconsin gets out to a big lead.
5) Forcing turnovers
When former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda arrived in 2013, his stated goal was to force three turnovers per game. Though his defenses were among the best in the nation, they rarely accomplished that turnover goal. In fact, it happened just six times in his 40 games calling the defensive signals.
But so far under new coordinator Justin Wilcox, the Badgers have become ball hawks, forcing five turnovers in their first two games — the most by a Wisconsin defense to start a season since 2002.
Though Georgia State has generally been miserable on offense, they have only turned the ball over twice. Look for Wisconsin to increase that number.
NUMBERS TO CONSIDER
394.5 — That’s how many rushing yards on average the Georgia State defense is allowing through two games.
3-0 — That could be Wisconsin’s record if they win the game — something they haven’t had since 2011.
12-3 — That’s coach Paul Chryst’s record at Wisconsin — the second-best mark in school history for the first 15 games of a coach’s career. Bret Bielema started out 14-1.
11 — That’s the total number of plays LSU and Akron have run in the first quarter against Wisconsin. The Badgers, meanwhile, have run 52 offensive plays.
Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 49, Georgia State 10 (1-1 on the season)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 52, Georgia State 3 (1-1 on the season)
Jake Zimmermann’s prediction: Wisconsin 52, Georgia State 3 (1-1 on the season)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 49, Georgia State 0 (1-1 on the season)
Eric Rogers’ prediction: Wisconsin 41, Georgia State 0 (1-1 on the season