Ready to Take the Heat

Although Wisconsin is no stranger to play a nonconference game on the West Coast, the Badgers are taking extra preparations to make sure they are ready for Arizona State and all the things that come with playing a team in the desert.

MADISON - As the sweat dripped off his following practice before the season opener, senior tight end Jacob Pedersen acknowledged that it was perfect air conditioning weather. He also admitted it was the perfect temperature to get prepared for the season.

"You definitely want to go out and have it be a hot humid day so it affects you in ways you aren't used to, especially when you didn't have that all summer," he said. "It was cool all summer."

Scorching temperatures never seemed to plague Gary Andersen's first fall camp at the University of Wisconsin, a disappointing occurrence considering the Badgers were preparing for temperatures at this weekend's kickoff at Arizona State to be in the high 90s.

But as luck would have it, Wisconsin got hot temperatures the last week of August and again on Monday, which had proven to be the perfect preparation for a tough environment that awaits them this Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

"Arizona State is not the humid heat like we've been having, but it's still going to be hot," said Pedersen. "We had a lot of guys who played out in Las Vegas (2010 season-opener) and I think it will be real similar."

For their first road trip of the season, however, Andersen isn't taking any chances. While Wisconsin has traditionally left the day before a regular season road game in the Contiguous United States, Andersen and the team are leaving for Phoenix Thursday morning, will practice Thursday and do a walk through Friday while adjusting their bodies to the climate, as well as the two-hour time change.

"It's just what we believe is best for our kids to try to keep them in the same standard operating procedure," said Andersen.

"It's the best situation for the time we are at this time of the year, the way we're practicing, going on the road for the first time, the newness of a lot of those situations. It's best for these young men, and they'll be able to handle their academics on a Thursday on a long plane flight and then get ready for the game on Friday."

Long nonconference flights over multiple time zones are nothing new to the Badgers, especially in the first three weeks of the season. In the last 12 seasons, Wisconsin has taken a trip to the West Coast in seven of those seasons. The Badgers are 5-2 in those games, losing 31-28 to No.7 Oregon in 2001 and 10-7 to Oregon State last season.

Senior tailback James White calls Arizona State "a great test" not only from a x's and o's standpoint, but from the fact that the game will prepare the Badgers for the hostile night-time environment they will see Sept.28 at Columbus against Ohio State.

According to White, last year's trip to Corvallis was great for Wisconsin's preparation since it showed the players what not to do.

"We weren't at all prepared (for Oregon State) and we had a bad performance," said White. "After last season, we know what can happen if you go into a game not prepared very well or don't play as well as you want to on the road. Once that momentum switches to the other team's sideline of their stadium, they really can run away with it."

Through two weeks of the season, Wisconsin has seen how volatile momentum can be once it starts building for the home team. The Badgers have yet to give up a point or allow an opponent in the red zone defensively while the offense's running game has yet to be contained.

The shoe is on the other foot this week, which is why Wisconsin is taking all the necessary steps possible to make sure its momentum doesn't take a serious blow one week before the conference opener.

"What does matter is we're playing a really good Arizona State football team, and we believe we have a chance to beat a good football team," said Andersen. "The adversity that comes our way because of any of those situations I mentioned before will be a non-factor if we win or lose the game. We'll be prepared."


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