Breakdown: No.20 Wisconsin at Arizona State

On the heels of two blowout shutout wins at home, No.20 Wisconsin faces its first true test of the season when it heads to Tempe to take on Arizona State Saturday night. Badger Nation breaks down the matchup.

No.20 Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Arizona State (1-0, 0-0 Pac 12)

Date/Time - Saturday, September 14 at 9:30 p.m. CT

Stadium –Sun Devil Stadium (71,706/Natural Grass)

Television –ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Tom Luginbil)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas and Mark Tauscher), Sirius 92, XM 192

Series – Arizona State leads 2-1 (Arizona State leads 1-0 in Tempe)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin defeated Arizona State, 20-19, on Sept.18, 2010 in Madison.

Last week's Badger Nation game coverage

Last meeting's Badger Nation game coverage

Series Notes

Wisconsin and Arizona State meet for the fourth time on Saturday, with the Badgers making their first visit to Tempe since 1968.

The Sun Devils claimed a 55-7 win in the teams' only previous meeting in the desert, with that con- test also marking the lone night game in the short history of the series.

Overall, the Badgers are 5-13-1 in road games against the Pac-12 Conference's current member- ship.

Since 2001, Wisconsin is 5-2 in road games played in the Pacific time zone.

A Big Ten opponent has never come to Sun Devil Stadium and left with a victory over Arizona State. The Sun Devils are 8-0 all-time against the conference at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU smoked Illinois last season by a score of 45-14 with other victories in the past 10 years against Northwestern in 2005 (52-21) and against No. 16 Iowa in 2004 (44-7). ASU has outscored Big Ten opponents in Tempe by an incredible 320-111 margin throughout history (40 to 13.9 ppg).

Arizona State is 16-14 all-time against current Big Ten teams. ASU is 13-4 when playing at home against those teams.

Wisconsin Notes

Of the 25 offensive drives by UW opponents in the season's first two weeks, only four have crossed midfield against the Badgers' defense. Those series have resulted in a missed field goal, an interception, a turnover on downs and a punt. Wisconsin has yet to allow an opponent to enter the red zone this season.

Wisconsin has played in 13 night games since the start of the 2009 season, going 10-3 (.769) under the lights. UW has won three of its last four night games, including the 2011 and 2012 Big Ten Football Championship games. The Badgers are 35-25 all-time at night.

With a combined 780 rushing yards in their first two games, the Badgers are the first Big Ten team since at least 2000 to rush for a combined 750 yards over its first two games of a season.

The Badgers recorded back-to-back shut- outs to open the season for the first time since opening the 1958 season with a 20-0 win at Miami (Fla.) and a 50-0 win over Marquette.

UW allowed Tennessee Tech to gain just 113 total yards, equaling the ninth-lowest total in school history and the Badgers' best effort since giving up 99 to Northern Illinois on Oct. 20, 2007.

Arizona State Notes

Quarterback Taylor Kelly put up 325 yards of total offense against Sacramento State in ASU's season opener with 300 yards through the air and 25 yards on the ground. The number is made slightly more impressive by the fact Kelly only played until about five minutes into the third quarter. Kelly led the team on seven scoring drives on 9 possessions, including six touchdowns in a grand total of 17:06 minutes on the field - or roughly 2.6 points per minute played.

ASU finished 2012 tied for 10th in fewest penalties per game at 4.23 and eighth in fewest penalty yards per game at 34.92. The Sun Devils finished dead last (120th) in the FBS in 2011. In the team's opener, ASU had just one penalty for five yards, matching the lowest total for yards and penalties in the last eight seasons.

Marion Grice proved to be one of the top junior college additions in the country last year after leading the team with 19 touchdowns (11 rushing, eight receiving) on the season - tied for the third-highest single season total in school history behind just Wilford White (1950, 22) and Terry Battle (1996, 20) on the all-time list. His 114 points on the year tie for fifth on ASU's all-time single-season points scored list.

ASU finished the 2012 season averaging 205.5 yards per game on the ground, which was the second-best mark in the past 25 seasons (since 1988). Only the 234.1 yards per game put up by the 1996 Sun Devils were better.

ASU prided itself on its aggressive defense last season, forcing 117 tackles for a loss of 497 total yards - a 9.00 TFL per game mark that led the nation. As a whole, ASU had a combined 155 defensive plays that went for a loss or no gain out of 953 offensive plays the opposition ran and if you tack on incomplete passes to the mix, then ASU forced 341 plays that did not result in positive yardage (35.8 percent of opponent's plays from scrimmage).


Dezmen Southward wouldn't say that he would have liked to see Wisconsin face some adversity in the first two weeks of the college football season, but he did say that Wisconsin was "challenged a little bit" over the first two weeks of the season.

This Saturday, Southward won't have to worry about his team being challenged.

Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen has been one of Arizona State's biggest fans when talking to the media about this weekend's matchup in Tempe against the Sun Devils. When you pop on the tape, you see why. Arizona State does a lot of thing similar to Wisconsin, especially when it comes to executing on offense, defense and special teams.

How they execute on offense is the big change. Running an up-tempo spread offense, Arizona State mixes it some pistol, some option, change personnel packages and can adapt its style seamlessly to attack an opponent's weakness, almost morphing into a triple option offense at times. Wisconsin has a smart defense but the skill and abilities pop out from all aspects, especially from an experienced quarterback who can throw for over 300 yards or tuck the ball and run up field.

"I think the quarterback's running ability provides them with a threat that fools a lot of teams," said senior defensive end Ethan Hemer. "They can show a run and throw a quick hitch or a slant. Watching film on teams they just aren't prepared for it because he'll run for a little bit and throw it, which I really haven't seen before. It's one of those things where you practice it, you rep it, you get more used to it. That being said, it'll be interesting to see what it looks like for real when we get out there."

When asked what the biggest challenge will be this weekend, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said matching Arizona State's offensive tempo and trying to slow it down consistently. That will mean Wisconsin has to be alert on the sidelines and really to substitute without much delay. It will be a stark contract after two games where Wisconsin has been able to exert its will defensively.

"We haven't been tested yet," said Aranda. "We've kind of played small ball with a lot of things; a lot of base, a lot of quarters and haven't played as much man as much as we probably like to play. I think so far so good. I feel good about the confidence of our players. I think they feel good about themselves and about what they're asked to do."

Arizona State's defense isn't half bad either. Andersen calls them "salty" and, like Wisconsin, has a very good front seven that's anchored by a senior leader. Defensive lineman Will Sutton posted 23.5 tackle for loss and 13 sacks last season, both fourth-most in ASU history, by using his size and athleticism to cause problems on the edges.

"He's very, very sudden as a defensive lineman," Andersen said of Sutton. "If I'm going to go recruit a guy and look at a guy that's a good defensive tackle, I want to see a good bender, good use of hands, and I want to see him be very sudden. He fits all three of those very well."

Like any good line, Sutton has a sidekick in Carl Bradford, who finished the year with 81 tackles (fourth on team), 20.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. It's just another challenge for Wisconsin in its first road game of the season in a stadium where no Big Ten team has ever won; a reason why the Badgers are 5.5-point underdogs.

But if there's one thing we know about Wisconsin through two games, it's the fact that the Badgers have dominated teams without showing anything on defense. Not only have the Badgers played very vanilla, they've been a group trying to regain chemistry, seeing as the starting unit was hardly ever on the field at the same time during fall camp.

"These last two games were the first time we have seen our first unit together, and it looks great right now," said Southward. "Obviously there will be some tough things come the middle of the season, but I love our first unit, our second unit and every guy on our team. We come ready to play, we're tough, we're smart and we're going to make you work for everything you get.

"We want to be solid. We don't want to be solid for two games. We want to be solid for every single game we play. We want to be technicians. We want to understand what we're doing and do it all the time. We want to be very consistent, and that's something you can't judge whether you did or do not do until the last snap of the season has been played."

Southward talked about fans being able to see the fruits of the defense's labor if they keep working like they have over the last several weeks. Wisconsin's old staff and old defensive scheme couldn't stop the up-tempo spread offenses of the world. With the talent, experience and confidence this group has, I think UW's defense, combine with Wisconsin's running game, will make the first Big Ten team to leave Sun Devil Stadium with a win.

Wisconsin 28, Arizona State 24

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 2-0

Against the Spread: 2-0

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