Breakdown: Tennessee Tech at No.21 Wisconsin

After pitching a shutout in the season opener, No.21 Wisconsin looks to continue its momentum when it takes on FCS foe Tennessee Tech Saturday morning. Badger Nation breaks down the matchup.

Tennessee Tech (1-0, 0-0 Ohio Valley) vs. No.21 Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, September 7 at 11 a.m. CT

Stadium –Camp Randall Stadium (80,321/FieldTurf)

Television – Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler and Derek Rackley)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas and Mark Tauscher), Sirius 139, XM 191

Series – First Meeting

Last Meeting – First Meeting

Last week's Badger Nation game coverage

Last Meeting

Series Notes

The Badgers are 2-0 all-time against members of the Ohio Valley Conference, scoring a 49-10 win over Murray State in 1999 and a 70-3 victory over Austin Peay in 2010.

UW owns an 11-0 record all-time against members of the Football Championship Subdivision since its formation in 1978 and will host an FCS team at Camp Randall for the seventh consecutive season.

Saturday is Tech's second game in three years against a Big Ten opponent, after opening the 2011 season at the Iowa.

Saturday marks the 17th consecutive years that Tech has battled an FBS opponent, a streak that began — ironically — against UAB, coached by Watson Brown, in 1997. It is the 24th season overall since the two divisions split in 1978 that the Golden Eagles have played against a higher tier foe.

Wisconsin Notes

With his 143-yard performance, senior RB James White became the nation's leading active rusher among FBS running backs and now has 2,714 yards for his career.

The Badgers benefitted from big plays on offense against UMass and exploded for four scoring plays of more than 50 yards, just the fourth such performance by an FBS team in the last 10 seasons.

Gary Andersen became the 21st coach in UW history to win his Badgers debut and joined Ivy Williamson (41-0 vs. Marquette in 1949) and Milt Bruhn (41-0 vs. Marquette in 1956) as the only modern-era UW coaches to score a shutout in their first game at the helm.

The Badgers will debut new helmets for Saturday's game. The design is the inverse of their normal white helmets, featuring a white Motion W set on a red shell. The team's Leadership Committee voted to wear the helmet vs. Tennessee Tech and will vote again on any future usage. This is not the first time Wisconsin has worn red helmets. UW donned them last season in a road contest at Nebraska and also wore red helmets with a white Bucky Badger logo from 1967-69.

Tennessee Tech Notes

Watson Brown and his younger brother, Mack, the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, are now nine combined victories away from breaking the record for most wins by brothers in college coaching. Watson and Mack have combined for 354 total victories. The record of 362 is held by Vince and Bill Dooley.

The depth chart includes seven players who made the first start of their Golden Eagle careers last week against Cumberland, including three on offense and four on defense.

With five different ball carriers gaining 47 yards or more on the ground, the Golden Eagles rushed for 323 yards against Cumberland in the season opener. It was the third-highest rushing total in Watson Brown's time at Tech.

Quarterback Darian Stone has gotten Tech into the end zone, no matter who he faces. He has led the offense on scoring drives in nine of the 11 games in which he has played, including both games as a redshirt freshman in 2011.

Breakdown

Watching the film from the week one opener, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig stated the obvious: the offense didn't play the cleanest game but the group battled on every play.

"That's the cornerstone of our success," said Ludwig.

Wisconsin is still evaluating who they are and what they do best but for an offensive coordinator who wants his group to be "great," the passing game will continue to be an integral part of the attack.

Wisconsin's running trio of Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement all went over 100 yards and found the end zone in the opener, hitting their creases and making players miss in the secondary, but the passing game can't always rely on a group to run for 8.9 yards per carry.

Joel Stave's numbers were mediocre in the first half against UMass, meaning the Badgers need to find rhythm for 60 minutes instead of 30. Even so, Stave still managed to throw a pair of touchdown passes and had his passing-yard total hover around 200 yards.

"That showed his mental toughness," said Ludwig, who also called Stave a cornerstone of the offense. "He missed some throws, not by much, in the first half, but came back and made them in the second half."

"You've got to be able to throw it down the field if you want to be a great offense," added Stave.

Wisconsin overcame its struggles in the passing game because of another dominate output from its running game, putting three tailbacks over 100 yards for only the third time in school history.

Overall, the Badgers finished with 598 yards of total offense and an impressive 9.6 average per play. The only game last season that had a better average per play was when Wisconsin averaged 10.1 yards in its 70-31 throttling of Nebraska in the conference championship game.

The last time Wisconsin rushed for at least 300 yards and threw for at least 200 yards was in a 62-17 win over Purdue on Nov. 5, 2011. The Badgers ran for 393 yards and threw for 205 yards against UMass.

Tennessee Tech is 0-28 against FBS opponents since 1984 and head coach Watson Brown's goal for his Tennessee Tech team is simple this week: execute the best they can and, hopefully, make a first down or two against a Wisconsin defense that impressive in its opener despite a simplistic approach.

"There weren't many (first downs) made last week," said Brown, as Wisconsin allowed only 13 first downs in the opener. "That was a dominant performance by their defense. Just dominant, so we understand what we're walking into and we know we have our hands full."

Brown knows that his team will have to outplay Wisconsin since the Badgers, "don't beat themselves very often." It's a mighty tall task, but Andersen acknowledged that the Golden Eagles have a lot of skill players and good speed for the FCS level. He also knows what it's like to coach an FCS team.

During his one season at Southern Utah in 2003, Andersen narrowly missed upsetting an FBS team in his last game, losing to Nevada, 24-23.

"Once in a lifetime for these (Tennessee Tech) kids," Andersen said. "They're going to walk in this stadium one time, they're always going to be able to say they played in Camp Randall. What better for them, to be able to say they came into Camp Randall and played well and won? I'm sure that will be their mindset.

"Those guys are good coaches at that level, they have hungry young men who have a chip on their shoulders. The longer they hang in games, the more excited they get about winning and they start believing. That's when it gets a little bit scary. You better make some plays to win."

With an important road matchup at Arizona State next weekend, Wisconsin's big goal on defense is to handle the spread offense, an attack UW will see multiple times this year and against good opponents. Offensively, the Badgers need to handle the heat (temperature in the high 80s) and get off to a better start offensively.

Wisconsin should cruise in this game, but we all know the season starts next week in the desert.

Wisconsin 52, Tennessee Tech 14

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 1-0

Against the Spread: 1-0

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