Common Opponents: None.
WVU - Tim Brown (Achilles) Out
Wisconsin - None reported
WVU 0-0, 0-0
UW 0-0, 0-0
Sat: 8/30 High Noon
Series: UW 3-0
Sagarin: WVU-42 UW-28
Stats & Trends
This match-up will be crucial for the Mountaineers chances of gaining a victory. The 2003 version of the Badger defense returns eight starters that held the 2002 Mountaineer rushing attack to 180 yards. Wisconsin returns its top three tacklers from last year in strong safety Ryan Aiello (6-1, 196, Sr), free safety Jim Leonhard (5-8,180, Jr) and linebacker Alex Lewis (6-1, 234, Sr). Aiello and Leonhard, who combined for 204 tackles, 11 interceptions and 26 pass beak-ups, anchor what will be a strong defensive secondary.
Joining Lewis in the linebacking corps are Jeff Mack (6-0, 245, Sr) and Kareem Timbers (6-3, 213, Jr). Lewis and Mack combined for 158 tackles, including 17 for losses, last season. Timbers doesn't have the experience of his cohorts but has the tenacity to make it a long day for Quincy Wilson and the WVU backfield.
The defense line maybe the Badgers' strongest unit on defense. Wisconsin returns preseason Big 10 selections Anttaj Hawthorne (6-3, 297, Jr) and Darius Jones (6-3, 276, Jr). These runs stoppers combined for 110 tackles, 7 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries a year ago. Jones and Hawthorne will be joined by Jonathan Welsh (6-4, 224, Jr) and Jason Jefferson (6-3, 302, Jr).
WVU defense vs. Badgers offense
The 2003 version of the Wisconsin Badgers will bring the typical Big 10 style of offense to Mountaineer Field - smash mouth, in your face football, but possibly with the twist of some spread added to the mix.
Taking over for the departed Brooks Bollinger is the lanky Jim Sorgi (6-5, 199, Sr). Sorgi is 0-5 as a starter but has shown the ability to run the offense in fall practice after getting a good bit of playing time last year. Fortunately for Sorgi, he will have plenty of help at the skill positions. Returning at running back is All-American candidate Anthony Davis (5-8, 194, Jr). Davis rushed for over 1500 yards last year and is being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy posibility. When asked about Davis, Coach Rodriguez has this to say: "He kind of reminds me of Avon (Cobourne) watching him play. They are more complete backs and considered little guys who are shifty and hard to tackle."
Sorgi will also have a fine group of receivers to pass the ball to, possibly the finest group in the country. Lee Evans (5-11, 196, Sr) is on everyone's list of top receivers while Jonathan Orr (6-3, 188, So)and Brandon Williams (5-11, 170, So) proved more than capable in Evans' absence last year. Orr and Willaims combined for 11 touchdowns and over 1500 yards in 2002.
The offensive will be a load for the WVU defensive front. The Bagder line averages 6-4 and 304 pounds....now thats a lot of cheese! The starters include Morgan Davis (5-5, 318, Jr), Dan Buenning (6-4, 303, Jr), Donovan Raiola (6-3, 290, So), Jonathan Clinksdale (6-3, 298, Jr) and Mike Lorenz (6-5, 314, Jr). If the Badgers have a weakness, it could be the offensive front. Although big, the line doesn't have the experience of the 2002 Badger offensive front.
Advantage: Pick 'em
WVU special teams vs. Badgers special teams
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Wisconsin's returnmen also have plenty of game experience. Brandon Williams (5-11, 170, So) and Leonhard will handle both kick and punt returns. Williams lead the Badgers last year with 32 kick returns for 670 yards, his long being 46 yards. Leonhard, as he showed last year, is a very solid punt returner. In 2002, he returned 36 punts for an average of 12.1 yards, one for a touchdown.
Picks to Click:
On Offense: Quincy Wilson
On Defense: Grant Wiley
* Wisconsin's roster includes 36 players from the Badger State.
* The Mountaineers are 1-0 on August 30th. That win was a 42-31 victory over Marshall to begin the 1997 season.
* In 1957, WVU's Ralph Anastasio rushed for 86 yards against the Badgers.
*WVU is 5-5 in the last ten season openers.
* The "State Dance" of Wisconsin is the Polka.
Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more matchup information!
A win over a ranked Wisconsin team could vault the Mountaineers to a Top 25 ranking and give the team a cofindence boost that could help them throughout the year. On the other hand, a loss could make it tough for the Blue and Gold to regroup before heading down to North Carolina for a battle with East Carolina. My guess is that WVU will be receiving a confidence boost after the victory on Saturday. The Mountaineers will be on the receiving side of three Badger turnovers which will allow WVU to start the season 1-0.
WVU - 24 Wisconsin - 21