Tar Heels offense v. Badgers defense
UNC projected starters Wisconsin projected starters
WR Jarwarski Pollock (Jr. 5-8, 170) DT Jason Jefferson (Jr. 6-3, 307)
UNC: TB Willie Parker (Sr. 5-11, 207), TB Jacque Lewis (Jr. 5-10, 197), WR Brandon Russell (Sr. 5-11, 190), WR Mike Mason (Fr. 6-0, 180), WR Danny Rumley (So. 6-4, 215), WR Jesse Holley (Fr. 6-3, 190), TB Chad Scott (Jr. 5-9, 196), WR Adarius Bowman (Fr. 6-4, 205).
Wisconsin: CB Levonne Rowan (So. 6-1, 178), SS Joe Stellmacher (Fr. 6-1, 198), DE Joe Monty (Fr. 6-2, 246), DT Kalvin Barrett (Jr. 6-2, 316), DT Lyle Maiava (So. 6-2, 294), LB LaMarr Watkins (So. 6-1, 216), FS Johnny White (Fr. 6-2, 202), CB Roderick Rogers (Fr. 6-2, 185), LB Kareem Timbers (Jr. 6-3, 209), LB Elliot Goode (So. 6-2, 240), LB Kyle McCorison (Sr. 6-0, 242).
Keys when the Tar Heels have the ball…
North Carolina's offense revolves around its extremely talented quarterback, Darian Durant, and his ability to beat teams with his arm and his feet. Durant has thrown for 461 yards and four touchdowns in two games, and also leads the team with 90 rushing yards. Durant is going to make plays and the cadre of speedy receivers at his disposal will test the Badgers secondary all day long.
Wisconsin's injury-depleted defensive line will likely struggle to pressure Durant—North Carolina's veteran offensive line has allowed only one sack this season. This will put extra pressure on the Badgers linebackers and secondary.
But the key may be whether North Carolina establishes a running game. The Tar Heels struggled to do so in their first two games, partly for lack of identity. It appears now that true freshman Ronnie McGill and senior Willie Parker have established themselves as the go-to guys in the running game. Each player is extremely athletic and could be on the brink of breaking loose. It is important to the Badgers' success that they shut down the running game, limiting UNC to the admittedly very-talented option of Durant.
Another weapon that could hurt Wisconsin is North Carolina's reserve tailback, Jacque Lewis, who is second on the team with nine pass receptions. UNC may create mismatches with the nimble Lewis matched up on Wisconsin's linebackers.
North Carolina starting tight end Bobby Blizzard is expected to miss Saturday's game while recovering from a viral illness.
Badgers offense v. Tar Heels defense
Wisconsin projected starters UNC projected starters
LG Dan Buenning (Jr. 6-4, 298) LB Clay Roberson (Sr. 6-1, 231)
C Donovan Raiola (So. 6-3, 290) CB Cedrick Holt (So. 5-11, 176)
Wisconsin: TB Dwayne Smith (So. 5-11, 225), TB Booker Stanley (Fr. 5-10, 207), WR/TE Owen Daniels (So. 6-3, 213), WR Jonathan Orr (So. 6-3, 190), WR Darrin Charles (Jr. 6-6, 210), TE Jason Pociask (So. 6-3, 250), WR Ernest Mason (Fr. 5-11, 180), WR Brandon White (So. 6-3, 182), OT/TE Joe Thomas (Fr. 6-8, 280).
UNC: CB Michael Waddell (Sr. 5-11, 183), CB Lionell Green (Jr. 6-1, 180), DT Isaiah Thomas (Fr. 6-4, 315), CB Derrick Johnson (Sr. 5-9, 178), SS Michael Harris (Sr. 5-10, 201), LB Jeff Longhany (So. 6-4, 245), CB Cedric Holt (So. 5-11, 176), DE Jocques Dumas (Jr. 6-6, 265).
Key when Wisconsin has the ball…
The question at kickoff will be whether Anthony Davis is suited up for Wisconsin. Without him, the Badgers will turn to Dwayne Smith and Booker Stanley, a pair of exceptionally talented backs who struggled last week in Davis' absence. Do not expect a repeat of that Saturday. If Davis does not play, Smith and Stanley will undoubtedly be better prepared, and motivated to erase the memory of last week's performance.
Speaking of forgetting about performances, Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi will be attempting to bounce back from what was likely the worst performance of his football career. It is vital for the Badgers' success that Sorgi gets into a rhythm early.
And what better team to need to get healthy against, at least on paper, than North Carolina, rated last in the nation in total defense. The Tar Heels are allowing 233.5 yards per game on the ground and 302.5 through the air, not to mention 43 points per game.
Still, the extremely young Heels have loads of talented players, led by free safety Dexter Reid, one of the better defensive players in the ACC, if not the country.
The Tar Heels defense undoubtedly will take its lumps this season as the young, likely stars develop. Whether or not Wisconsin deals UNC some of those lumps, however, depends on how well the Badgers have rebounded from their dreadful performance against UNLV.
Special Teams matchup
Wisconsin specialists UNC specialists
P R.J. Morse (Jr. 6-1, 246) John Lafferty (Sr. 5-10, 193)
KR Brandon Williams (So. 5-11, 170) Wallace Wright (So. 6-0, 185)
PR Jim Leonhard (Jr. 5-8, 183) Michael Waddell (Sr. 5-11, 183)
Against North Carolina any such mistakes will be touchdowns. Michael Waddell is an electrifying return man, one of the best in the country and Wallace Wright has game-breaking ability as well.
Wisconsin's kicking game is up in the air. Scott Campbell has been perfect from within 40 yards, but has missed all three attempts from beyond that distance. There were hints this week that Mike Allen's return could be imminent.
North Carolina's specialists are an all-around solid group.
BadgerNation.com forecast: Wisconsin 34, North Carolina 24