Schedule Tour: Arizona State

With a little over a month to the start of the 2010 Wisconsin football season, Badger Nation goes game by game for an early breakdown of the opposition. Third game is Wisconsin's first BCS test of the season, hosting an Arizona State squad that is looking to rebound under its national championship coach.

CHICAGO - The last time Wisconsin saw Steven Threet under center, he provided one of the most nightmarish moments in the history of program. Threet was the engineer in the Meltdown at Michigan in 2008, leading an awful Wolverines squad to an upset No.9 Wisconsin.

If Threet wins the starting quarterback job, he'll get a chance to knock off another ranked Wisconsin squad when the Arizona State Sun Devils head to Madison for the first of a three-game series on September 18.

Arizona State, much like the Michigan version of football the last few seasons, hasn't been very good, primarily on offense. Averaging only 18 points in league games, Head Coach Dennis Erickson – a 21-year veteran for six different programs and a national championship ring with Miami – is looking for a consistent quarterback to give its offense a needed shove forward.

If sophomore Brock Osweiler (one career start) doesn't win the job, look in the direction of Threet, who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan and has two years of eligibility remaining. In that shocking upset, Threet looked pedestrian in the first half, but helped Michigan register 278 second-half yards and three scoring drives over 75 yards to stun UW.

The problems for the Sun Devils extend past the quarterback position, however, as the offensive line was far from fluid, their top two pass catchers have left and the running game finished 93rd in the country last season.

If there is a bright spot though, it's the defense. Leading the Pac-10 and ranked No. 13 nationally in total defense after allowing only 297.6 yards per game, the Sun Devils, like the Badgers, were stout against the run, allowing opponents only 108.6 yards per game on the ground, tops in the Pac-10. They allowed only two 100-yard rushers all season and were second in the conference in scoring defense, an area that certainly will test the Badgers.

ASU also allowed only 189 passing yards per game, another number that led the conference, thanks to the works of Vontaze Burfict and Omar Bolden. Burfict, a sophomore linebacker, is the returning leader with 69 tackles and three interceptions while Bolden, a junior cornerback, is talented enough to be a first-day NFL draft pick.

State lost four games against elite opponents in 09 by five points or less (by three at Georgia, two to Cal, five to USC and a field goal to rival Arizona), losses. Of course, the common denominator to those loses was a putrid offense that usually vanished. ASU lost its last six games due to an offense that produced only 21.5 points a game.

Much like Wisconsin, Arizona State fielded a young team in 2009, featuring 23 student- -athletes on their depth chart who were sophomore eligibility or younger. Unlike the Badgers, the Sun Devils' youth did not prevail, going 4-8 overall and finishing 9th in the Pac 10.

Since starting out 8-0 debut in 2007, the Sun Devils are 11-18 under Erickson's watch, which makes 2010 a vital season in the desert.

If you go

Date/Time - Saturday, September 18 at 2:30 p.m. CT

Arena – Camp Randall, Madison

Series – Arizona State leads 2-0

Last Meeting - Arizona State won, 55-7, on Sept. 21, 1968 in Tempe

Early Prediction - Wisconsin 28, Arizona State 10


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