Five Keys to Victory

After months of hype and restlessness, Wisconsin football is finally ready to continue the momentum it earned in the bowl game with its season opener against UNLV. Brad Fedie gives his five keys to victory.

1, Big Start from the Big O

Anyone who touts the Badgers first mentions the extremely talented offense. This season, Wisconsin will look to put up points in bunches and it all starts against a defense ranked outside of the top 100 last season. Did somebody say confidence booster? Getting into midseason form early in the year could help the Badgers prevent a letdown, especially with a game on the road against a tough Michigan State team waiting for them to start the Big Ten schedule.

2, Who's on first?

The first team that is. While depth charts have been released, a few positions have included players subbing in for injuries in addition to a few spots up for grabs in open competition. The defensive tackle position could see as many as five players in a constant rotation, with freshman standout Beau Allen looking to put an exclamation point on a terrific first fall camp. The offensive line was banged up all year last year, and as a result Wisconsin has more experienced linemen than spots for them. Either Bill Nagy or Kevin Zeitler will have to come off the bench. A glut of wide receivers look to join Nick Toon in the starting lineup. David Gilreath would have the advantage if he had not missed time with a concussion, and Isaac Anderson looks to be next in line. Not too far behind, however, are Kyle Jefferson, freshman Manasseh Garner and walk-on standout Jared Abbrederis. On special teams, freshman James White has been named the No.1 punt and kickoff returner, but the question remains, is it a permanent promotion, or will Gilreath take the spot back when he is healthy?

3, Secondary education

Saturday begins the Aaron Henry safety experiment and we'll get an early look at whether it's going to be an A or an F. UNLV ran a nearly 50/50 split of running and passing plays (386/417), however 145 rushing attempts came from the quarterback position. The secondary needs to make sure they don't bite on a play fake and get beat deep. We will learn a lot about their instincts come this weekend.

4, Saturday Night Live

It's no secret that the home team seems to get more of an advantage in night games. This might be a rare exception. As the Badgers proved last season in Hawaii, a time zone change doesn't stop a focused team. Factor in the thousands of Badgers fans making the trip and that the late start will bring temperatures down 10-15 degrees to a reasonable temperature before kickoff, and the daunting atmosphere gets a heavy dose of aerosol.

5, EXP points

If the Badgers take a big lead, it would be wise for coach Bret Bielema to dig deep into the depth chart and get some of the backups some quality playing time. If anything can derail a hyped season, it's injuries. The more prepared the Badgers are, the better off they will be if an important piece misses significant time. Running up the score is sometimes a necessary evil in the college game, but it would be wise to sacrifice a slaughtering for some always needed depth.

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