This week has something extra special mixed in for Valai. Not only are the Badgers going to be facing their toughest test of the young 2010 season, but Valai is finally going to a chance to wipe the awful memory of Steven Threet celebrating a shocking victory over UW.
"I haven't forgotten," Valai said, who knew Threet's name with being prompted by the reporter. "When we went to Michigan two years ago . . . I can remember (Threet) putting his hands up and Coach Rodriguez hugging him. That thought has never left my mind.
"When we broke down in the locker room that is the first thing I said: 'Remember who we are playing, because it's the same kid we played against at Michigan.'
"The second half they came out and basically turned that whole season from what it was supposed to be into what it was, which was 7-6. We've got a lot of redemption on our minds."
Threet was far from the hero the day he quarterbacked Michigan in its dramatic 27-25 comeback victory over UW in the 2008 conference opener, but he has developed into the central figure for Arizona State, who will face Wisconsin Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall.
Threet has come a long way since his Michigan days, and his numbers prove it. In the upset, Threet completed 12 of 31 passes for 96 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He did have his plays – a 26-yard touchdown pass and a 58-yard run that set up another – but was unhappy with the spread offense he was forced to operate.
Deciding to transfer and picking the Sun Devils, Threet, after sitting out a season per NCAA transfer rules, has found a level of comfort in his first two games.
"He's got a lot of talent, he's tough to bring down and you can tell that he's a good competitor," UW Coach Bret Bielema said. "He seems to have good composure relatively early in his career there at Arizona State. All the reasons he was recruited to Michigan and all the reasons he's at Arizona State, he's a good quarterback."
Opening the season with two wins, the redshirt junior has completed 67.1 percent of his passes (47 of 70) for 630 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. More importantly, Threet is spreading the ball around, as 13 players have caught a pass and five have at least four receptions.
"I remember basically every game, so I remember all of it," Threet said of the ‘08 game. "It was a tough game and they played really well. We were able to come back and get the win in the second half. There are some of the same guys and I've played against Wisconsin before. There are a lot of different guys running a different offense though."
The key for Wisconsin is which of the guys are going to step up and contribute. Wisconsin's secondary consisting of Valai, Aaron Henry, Niles Brinkley and Antonio Fenelus weren't main contributors in that game, but have separated themselves as the starting secondary.
Through two games, the group has committed only two penalties and been indirectly responsible for only three scores, but have made glaring missteps or made missed tackles that have led to big passing plays, which San Jose State's meager passing offense took advantage of to the tune of 252 passing yards.
Helping the pass rush will be the return of starting sophomore linebacker Chris Borland. After getting four sacks in the opener against UNLV, the Badgers didn't have Borland (shoulder) in the lineup against the Spartans and didn't register a sack, allowing the San Jose State offense more time to torch the UW secondary.
"You really saw the loss of No. 44 out there pressuring the passer," Bielema said. "Hopefully, we get that element back. That's something we can all benefit from."
More importantly, it will give UW a chance to correct one of the greatest wrongs in Bielema's tenure.
"He's 1-0 against us," Valai said. "We have a chance to change that."