Tag:Mountain west
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 2:35 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 5 Boise St. 35, Georgia 21

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

BOISE STATE WON: The Broncos again thrust themselves into the national title chase with a comprehensive 14-point win over the Bulldogs. After an iffy first quarter, Kellen Moore returned to his All-American best, completing 28 of his 34 attempts for 261 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Meanwhile, Georgia struggled all night on offense, getting an 80-yard touchdown run from moonlighting cornerback Brandon Boykin in the first quarter ... and averaging a middling 4.8 yards on all other plays. 

WHY BOISE STATE WON: The common conception is that non-AQ teams like Boise can find a handful of good skill players, but just can't match up with the heavies of the SEC on the line of scrimmage. Too bad for Georgia Boise's performance was as loud and as forceful a rebuke of that misconception as it's possible to be. The Bronco defensive front of Shea McClellin, Billy Winn, Chase Baker and Tyrone Crawford routinely abused the Bulldog blockers, sacking Aaron Murray six times and harrying him into a 36-yard, zero touchdown, one-interception first-half performance. One of the few Bulldog first-half forays into BSU territory ended when an unblocked McClellin stuffed Richard Samuel on 4th-and-1. By the time the Bulldogs began to get a handle on the Boise front, the game was out of reach.

Things were nearly as lopsided on the other side of the ball. The Broncos finished the game with 129 yards on 37 carries, but those numbers don't do justice to Nate Potter and the rest of the BSU line's domination of the Dawgs in the four-touchdowns-in-five-possessions
stretch over the end of the second quarter and start of the third--four drives that totaled 31 plays and covered 232 yards. And about Moore's six-incompletions-in-34-tries performance: those numbers are a lot easier to reach when you're not sacked once.

WHEN BOISE STATE WON: Murray's sky-high pass on 4th-and-2 with 2:34 remaining in the game (and Georgia down 35-21) put the final nail in the Bulldogs' coffin, but the game was decided by the Broncos' 8-play, 76-yard touchdown drive spanning the third and fourth quarters. Georgia had pounced on a rare Bronco mistake -- an offsides penalty that turned a 4th-and-7 punt into a 4th-and-2 -- with a Murray 36-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 28-14. But Moore and the Broncos responded with a brutally, icily efficient drive, one capped by D.J. Harper's 1-yard touchdown to restore the lead to 35-14. Georgia never tasted real momentum again.

WHAT BOISE STATE WON: The chance to all-but cruise to another undefeated season. With TCU's defense looking utterly mortal against Baylor, only the Broncos' trip to San Diego State looks like a legitimate hurdle to 12-0. If Georgia does BSU the favor of winning enough to make this victory valuable and carnage reigns across the BCS conferences, Boise's first trip to the BCS title game could be in sight.

WHAT GEORGIA LOST: For the time being, any sense of progress over last year's 6-7 disaster. The Bulldogs of 2010 had little running game, an inconsistent passing attack, an erratic secondary, and conditioning issues in the fourth quarter. From what we saw Saturday, the 2011 version has the same problems--and unless they can make some quick repairs before a visit from South Carolina next week, they may sink a second straight season before it even begins.


Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:37 pm
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Sep. 3)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Ohio State isn't back, because they never went anywhere to begin with. Let's get one thing out of the way: Ohio State was only playing Akron. Beating Akron proves nothing. The Buckeyes probably aren't going to be the last team to beat Akron by 42 points this season.  And yet, that sure looked like Jim Tressel's Ohio State, didn't it?

It makes sense that OSU still looks mostly the same, to an extent; Luke Fickell is a Jim Tressel disciple, and the rest of the Tressel staff is still in place. Further, the vast majority of OSU's superior talent is back. Terrelle Pryor is gone, obviously, and there are a handful of starters who are suspended for the early going. But OSU's real strength didn't lie in its starters' talent, it was having second- and third-stringers who could start for pretty much any other team, and those guys are all still around. So Fickell's got some institutional advantages in place.

But keeping those players focused in the middle of what's arguably OSU's largest scandal is much easier said than done, and Fickell deserves a ton of credit for maintaining control of the program when it looked like all hell would break loose. Nobody's talking about Terrelle Pryor in Columbus today, they're talking about the Buckeyes. That's the way it ought to be. 

2. It's like thunder! And lightning! On its face, it seems silly to discuss non-catastrophic weather in a column called "what I learned"; everyone's got that sort of thing figured out by, oh, third grade. But I did learn that even in the legendary, leaderish Big Ten, they will flat-out cancel the rest of a football game on account of lightning if it persists long enough. 

That's precisely what happened Saturday, when Michigan and Western Michigan officials decided to call off a 34-10 contest with over a full quarter remaining in the game. The weather report looked grim at that point, and it was unlikely that the game could be finished before at least 10:00. Still, even though it's admirable that there are rules with the protection of fans and players in mind like this, it also seems decidedly un-football to do so. Oh, if it weren't for that pesky liability. Alas.

3. The Leaders Division is Wisconsin's to lose right now. Sure, Wisconsin's defense struggled at times with the UNLV rushing attack, but not disastrously so, and the second unit of the Badger offense was pretty pedestrian. That's all true. What Wisconsin showed on offense on Thursday rendered that all moot. Russell Wilson made the best reads of anybody in the Big Ten in Week 1, and he's only been in Madison for a few months. He also showed the best rushing acumen of any Big Ten quarterback not named Taylor Martinez or Denard Robinson. And oh yes, the Wisconsin rushing attack is as mansome as ever. The Badgers don't have a bruiser anymore, and mountain man Gabe Carimi is off starting in the NFL, but the mashing will continue apace for another year as long as James White and Montee Ball are healthy.

If Wisconsin had a decent second quarterback (or if presumptive backup Jon Budmayr's arm were healthy), or if this game were in November, it might have hung 70 or 80 on UNLV. The offense scored touchdowns on seven of its first eight possessions, and the only reason it didn't get eight was because it got the ball in its own territory with only 47 seconds left (that ended up being a field goal). It was 51-3 early in the second half. Yes, it's only UNLV, but the Badgers are probably going to score at least 31 points in every game in the Big Ten. Do you really see any team that's going to outscore them?

4. Being a running back at Iowa is still a catastrophic idea. Iowa tailback Marcus Coker was expected to be the workhorse of the Iowa offense in 2011, so it was jarring to say the least to see him put two fumbles on the turf early in the first quarter of Iowa's opener against Tennessee Tech. In came true freshman Mika'il McCall, who wowed fans with 61 yards on nine carries in the first quarter. For a backfield that's short on experience, that kind of firepower would be crucial over the course of the Big Ten season.

So naturally, McCall suffered a broken ankle on his ninth carry, and he is gone for the year, according to Kirk Ferentz. McCall is just the latest in a series of Iowa runing backs who have been stricken with serious injuries, missed seasons, or other early exits over the last few years, a list that includes former starters Jewel Hampton (ACLs, transfer), Adam Robinson (concussions, dismissal), Brandon Wegher (personal issues, transfer), Paki O'Meara (concussions), and even in a sense Shonn Greene (academics, early NFL entry). Former starting fullback Brad Rogers is also sidelined with a heart issue, although he's still working to rejoin the Hawkeyes at some point. It's a legacy of disaster that some have semi-jokingly blamed on the "Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God." The evidence seems to be overwhelmingly in the favor of such a god existing. At any rate, here's hoping McCall recovers well from his broken ankle and the Big Ten sees him again in 2012.

Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 2:49 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 1

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Ah, sweet, glorious football. There's nothing quite like the first football Saturday of the season, when the days are warm, so are the nights, and you're liable to catch a major sunburn on half your face if you're sitting in the north or south part of the stadium. Lots of great games and great weather on tap today. All times are eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Akron at No. 18 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Low 90s, clear

Utah State at No. 23 Auburn, 12:00, Auburn, AL: Low 90s, clear

Miami (OH) at No. 21 Missouri, 12:00, Columbia, MO: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Kent State at No. 2 Alabama, 12:20, Tuscaloosa, AL: Low 90s, clear

Appalachian State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 12:30, Blacksburg, VA: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Afternoon kickoffs

Louisiana-Monroe at No. 6 Florida State, 3:30, Tallahassee, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy

Chattanooga at No. 10 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Mid 70s, storms

South Florida at No. 16 Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IN: Upper 80s, mostly cloudy, storms

Minnesota at No. 25 USC, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 80s, clear

San Jose State at No. 7 Stanford, 5:00, Palo Alto, CA: Lower 80s, clear

Evening kickoffs

Florida Atlantic at No. 22 Florida, 7:00, Gainesville, FL: Lower 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Missouri State at No. 15 Arkansas, 7:00, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 80s, clear

Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 9 Oklahoma State, 7:00, Stillwater, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy

East Carolina at No. 12 South Carolina, 7:00, Columbia, SC: Mid 80s, clear

Tulsa at No. 1 Oklahoma, 8:00, Norman, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy

No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia, 8:00, Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome): Mid 70, partly cloudy

No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 LSU, 8:00, Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium): Whatever temperature Jerry Jones says. But outside it will be in the high 80s

Late night kickoffs 

Colorado at Hawaii, 10:15, Honolulu, HI: Upper 70s, showers

Posted on: September 3, 2011 12:31 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 12:32 am
 

TCU's defense gave up more than just points

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Coming into the season off yet another undefeated season and victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, the biggest question mark surrounding TCU was quarterback Casey Pachall. Namely, would he be able to fill in the shoes of former Horned Frog signal-caller Andy Dalton? Well, following TCU's 50-48 loss to Baylor on Friday night, the quarterback position is no longer the biggest question mark in purple and black.

No, that would be the TCU defense. The unit that led that entire country in defense last season, and in five of the last eleven years, was putrid on Friday night. Robert Griffin and the Baylor offense were able to tear the TCU defense apart for 564 yards and 50 points. To put that in perspective, TCU hadn't given up more than 35 points in a game -- gave up 35 in a loss to Oklahoma in 2008 and again against San Diego State in a win last season -- since the 2007 season when it beat Stanford 38-36.

Baylor had 34 points at halftime on Friday night.

Now, you can say that the TCU defense played a lot better in the fourth quarter, and numbers wise, you'd be correct. TCU did force Baylor into a couple three-and-outs to get the Frogs back into the game, and then a fumble by Griffin set up the field goal that gave TCU the lead back. Of course, it could also be pointed out that Baylor made the mistake of going into the "prevent offense" on two of those drives. The Bears gave up on the passing game that had shredded the TCU secondary all night in favor of trying to run out the clock.

When Baylor was trailing and needed to move down the field to get in position for the game-winning field goal,though, it didn't have a lot of trouble doing so.

Now, as alarming as it may seem, we must remember that this is only the first game of the year. Upsets are common in the first week, and the TCU defense has plenty of time to get its act together and could still finish the season as one of the nation's best units. Still, even if that does happen, you have to think that this loss against Baylor puts a serious dent in TCU's chances to get back to a BCS bowl game this January, and a national title may already be a lost cause.

In other words, the TCU defense gave up a lot more than 50 points on Friday night.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 12:08 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 12:13 am
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 50 TCU 48

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WON. For the first time since 2004, Baylor picked up a victory over a ranked opponent by defeating No. 14 TCU in Waco on Friday night. Robert Griffin III sparked a Baylor offense that racked up 564 yards against the nation's best defense in 2010, throwing for 359 yards and 5 touchdowns. The majority of those yards going to Kendall Wright, who finished with 12 receptions for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns.

WHY BAYLOR WON. Baylor tried to lose. The Bears entered the fourth quarter with a 47-23 lead but 25 unanswered points later TCU had retaken the lead with 4:27 to go. Thankfully for the Bears, after the offense got a bit too conservative in the fourth, things picked up again on a final drive that finished with a 37-yard field goal from Aaron Jones that proved to be the winner.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. Originally it felt like Baylor had the game won early in the third quarter when it took a 40-23 lead, but this one wasn't over until Mike Hicks intercepted a Casey Pachall pass in the closing seconds.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. Respect, pure and simple. Yes, the Bears went bowling last season, but not many people were giving them a chance against the defending Rose Bowl champions. Sure, they just held on, but a win over TCU is a win over TCU and it's one of the bigger wins in recent Baylor history, including last year's victory against Texas.

WHY TCU LOST. TCU turned things on late and were able to take a lead in the fourth quarter, but the hole it dug in the first three quarters was just too much to overcome. While the defense played much better late, it was still torn apart for the first 45 minutes and it's something TCU will have to address in the coming weeks.

WHAT TCU LOST. The Horned Frogs lost some credibility on Friday night. A team that many felt deserved a shot at the national championship the last few years, the odds of TCU returning to a BCS bowl game may already be erased after losing to Baylor. The good news is that there's still a lot of games left in the year, and memories are short, so if the Frogs can win the Mountain West and beat Boise State, they could find themselves back in the BCS this January.

THAT WAS CRAZY. The entire 60 minutes. Honestly, trying to pick out one insane moment in this game is impossible. The 60 minutes of football played on Friday night in Waco were exactly what make college football the greatest sport in the world. Thank goodness it's back.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:17 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 1

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

While Thursday and Friday night serve as delicious appetizers for the new college football season, one that feels like it took forever to get here, the big games start on Saturday. Since it's been a while since you planted your behind on a couch on a Saturday morning and stayed there all day, you're probably going to need some help navigating through the day.

So lucky for you, the Eye On College Football crew has brought the Saturday Meal Plan back. It's your weekly menu of which games should be on your plate and where you can find them.

BREAKFAST

#18 Ohio State vs. Akron - ESPN, 12pm ET

So many questions for Ohio State on Saturday. Will the Luke Fickell-era offense look any different? Who's going to shine between QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller? How much will the team miss its eight suspended players? Does Akron stand a chance anyway? - Adam Jacobi

#23 Auburn vs. Utah State - ESPN2, 12pm ET

Despite some close calls, Auburn hasn't lost to a school outside the current BCS conferences since Southern Miss upset the Tigers back in 1991. (USM's quarterback that day was a guy named Brett Favre, who would later become famous for inventing the cell phone camera.) So it's going to take a very good team by WAC standards to break that streak, and the Aggies -- the WAC's sixth-place finisher a year ago, now without star quarterback Diondre Borel -- very likely aren't that team. Most of the drama on the Auburn sidelines should concern which of their FBS-high 16 new starters look ready for their close-up, most notably new quarterback Barrett Trotter. But if Trotter and the other Tiger cubs come out nervous -- particularly the true sophomore defensive tackle pairing of Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter, who could have their hands full with USU's veteran line -- things could stay competitive for longer than Gene Chizik would like. - Jerry Hinnen

Boston College vs. Northwestern - ESPNU, 12pm ET

You never like to start the season with injury concerns, and that this case for the star player on both these rosters. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa was listed as "questionable" for Saturday's opener as he continues to recover from an achilles injury that ended his 2010 campaign, but popular belief seems to be that he will see the field. Boston College running back Montel Harris underwent his second arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss the game. Making matters even more difficult for the Eagles was an ankle sprain to talented backup Andre Williams. Williams will start and appears ready to go, but there will be more pressure on quarterback Chase Rettig to establish a passing attack against the Northwestern defense. Don't expect Persa to get any easy looks from the Boston College defense, led by All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly. - Chip Patterson

LUNCH

#16 Notre Dame vs. South Florida - NBC, 3:30pm ET

Year Two of the Brian Kelly Era in South Bend gets under way in a game against a former Notre Dame coach, and the son of the man who last brought a national championship to the school, Skip Holtz. There's a lot to look at in this game for both teams. Namely, will Notre Dame finally start to live up to the expectations placed on it every season, and which B.J. Daniels is going to show up for South Florida? - Tom Fornelli

#25 USC vs. Minnesota - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET

Perhaps it is saying something about how quiet Lane Kiffin has been at USC that one of the more notable things about this game is actually about the opposing coach. The Jerry Kill era begins in earnest on the road and he brings a Minnesota team that barely resembles the one that lost to the Trojans a year ago. The Gophers will compete with dual-threat MarQueis Gray at quarterback and a solid linebacking corps but it will be a tough task to pull of the upset against the firepower of the USC offense. Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are a fun pair to watch while Trojan fans will be nervous to see if the defense looks any better than it did last year. - Bryan Fischer

Michigan vs. Western Michigan - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 pm ET

It's a new era for Michigan -- again -- and Brady Hoke's charges are going to face a stiff challenge from MAC stalwarts Western Michigan. Yes, seriously. The Wolverines probably won't be suffering for points with Denard Robinson leading the new offense, but the Broncos are more than capable of hanging around in this one, as standout QB Alex Carder should find plenty of opportunities to advance the ball through the air. Keep an eye on this one for some possible afternoon fireworks. - AJ

Ole Miss vs. BYU - ESPN, 4:45pm ET

Life in the SEC West isn't easy for anybody, but if Ole Miss is going to get to six wins and back to a bowl game this year, then this is one of those games the Rebels need to win. Though it's not like BYU is just going to hand the game to them, as the Cougars would like to get their new life as an independent off on the right foot, and what better way to do that than by getting a win against the SEC? - TF

DINNER

#22 Florida vs. FAU - ESPNU, 7pm ET

The first sign that not everything was well in Gatorland in 2010 was Florida's season opener vs. Miami (Ohio), when Urban Meyer's team gained all of 25 yards through three quarters and wheezed their way to a 34-12 victory. Unfortunately for Meyer, the RedHawks wound up one of the nation's most surprising teams. But just as fortunately for Will Muschamp, his debut as Gator head coach shouldn't be nearly so stressful--FAU has been pegged for the bottom rungs of the Sun Belt, and will be breaking in a new quarterback and six new defensive starters in the Swamp. Most Gator fans should wind up watching quarterback John Brantley rather than the scoreboard, as a steady, solid outing by the much-maligned senior would boost his and his team's confidence considerably. - JH

#1 Oklahoma vs. Tulsa - FX, 8pm ET

The Sooners are the preseason favorite of many people throughout the country, and Saturday night will be their first chance to show people why. This game had a lot more upset potential before the arrest and suspension of Tulsa wide receiver Damaris Johnson, but the possibility that it's a lot closer than most would expect is still there. - TF

#4 LSU vs. #3 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET

It's not just the game of this year's opening week; it would be the game of every year's opening week. And that's just looking at the rankings of the two teams--add in the Will Lyles drama at both schools, the Tigers' August bar brawl and subsequent Jordan Jefferson suspension, Cliff Harris' and Russell Shepard's respective troubles, Chip Kelly's history of nonconference woes, Jarrett Lee's potential redemption, LaMichael James kicking off his Heisman campaign, the bevy of other All-American candidates on both rosters, and the one-and-only Les Miles, and this game is as intriguing as intriguing gets. For the Ducks, victory may come down to their revamped offensive front giving Darron Thomas enough space to get Kelly's option-game going. Tiger end Sam Montgomery, though, is the kind of elite defensive lineman the Ducks have struggled with even with veteran lines. For LSU, if Lee can avoid turnovers, the Tigers' advantage on both lines-of-scrimmage should eventually prove decisive. But given the Ducks' ball-hawking ways, that's much easier said than done. The one thing we can say for certain: we'll be watching. - JH

#19 Georgia vs. #5 Boise State - ESPN, 8pm ET

Another year, another high profile season opener for the Broncos. Heisman candidate Kellen Moore will lead Boise State into a not-so-neutral Georgia Dome to face the Bulldogs in the annual Chick fil-A Kickoff. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who said this week he hopes to emulate Moore's success, will be trying to make his own statement after an impressive freshman season in 2010. The Georgia-heavy crowd in Atlanta will not be the only uphill battle for the Broncos. Boise State is undersized defensively in comparison to the Bulldogs offensive line, and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is sure to use the 3-4 scheme to put some added pressure on Moore. However, Moore does take care of the ball (74-9 TD:Int ratio last two seasons) and Georgia will be counting on the unproven true freshman Isaiah Crowell to anchor the running game. Get the "LAST" button ready, because you'll want to see both Top 25 showdowns in the primetime slot. - CP

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Hawaii vs. Colorado - ESPN2, 10:15pm ET

This Pac-12 life isn't too bad, is it, Colorado? Your very first game and you get a trip to Hawaii to show for it. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, they still have to face a Hawaii offense featuring dark horse Heisman candidate Bryant Moniz that puts up points in bunches. This game should be an entertaining way to end your Saturday. - TF 
Posted on: September 2, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Boise St. holds out three for eligibility concern

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Good though they may be, Boise State still has a tremendous challenge on its hands facing Georgia in the Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff game Saturday night. And after electing to hold out three key players due to eligibility concerns, that challenge has only become more daunting.

The Broncos announced in a brief statement Friday that senior safety Cedric Febis, sophomore defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe and sophomore wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn had not accompanied the team to Atlanta.

"The three are being held out of the game due to a review of their NCAA eligibility," the statement read. "The review is not academic or violation of team rules."

The three players all have a few noteworthy things in common. The first is that all three are originally from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where they each played for local football club teams before coming to the U.S. All three played for prep high schools in Boise before joining the Broncos.

The second is that all three are expected to be major contributors for the Broncos this season. A fifth-year senior, Febis was in line to earn a starting safety position following the graduation of Jeron Johnson. He is likely to be replaced by redshirt freshman Jeremy Ioane.

Though not in the projected first string for Saturday's game, both Boldewijn (formerly known as Geraldo Hiwat) and Tjong-a-Tjoe were expected to see plenty of snaps as the Broncos look for receiving playmakers (in Boldewijn's case) and spell star tackles Billy Winn and Chase Baker (in Tjong-a-Tjoe's). Tjong-a-Tjoe finished in the team's top eight in both sacks and tackles-for-loss in 2010.

The losses may not be as fatal as losing players like Kellen Moore or potential All-American safety George Iloka. But the Broncos by nearly all accounts were already facing deficits in the areas of depth and athleticism going up against an SEC team like Georgia, and the loss of three quality players and athletes won't make those deficits any easier to cope with.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:33 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17

Posted by Adam Jacobi

WISCONSIN WON. The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers dispatched the UNLV Rebels Thursday night, 51-17, in front of a raucous crowd at Wisconsin's Camp Randall. Senior Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson was stellar in his much-anticipated Badger debut, completing 10 of 13 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in little over a half of work. Meanwhile, RB Montee Ball had 130 yards from scrimmage and four scores, also seeing limited duty before taking the rest of the night off. 

WHY WISCONSIN WON: Wisconsin won for the same reason it has over the last decade-plus: pure physicality. UNLV struggled all game long to maintain the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball, and once tailbacks like Ball, James White, and even freshman Melvin Gordon get a big lane, slowing down the Wisconsin attack is basically impossible. On the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin struggled at times to keep UNLV from moving the chains, but the Rebels missed on their first eight thrid-down conversion attempts, and were stymied by missed field goals twice early in the game when the score was still close. 

WHEN WISCONSIN WON: As soon as Montee Ball high-stepped into the end zone over a would-be tackler for his second score of the day. We were barely halfway through the first quarter when Wisconsin put together its second easy touchdown drive of the day, and the Badgers would roll up a 51-3 lead after only eight possessions before calling off the dogs. 

WHAT WISCONSIN WON: For head coach Bret Bielema, today's game was a dream come true. His Badgers throttled UNLV early on and looked capable of hanging 70+ points on the beleaguered Rebels, but Bielema got his offensive stars out of the game early in the second half, and UNLV went on to outscore the Badgers 14-0 in the last 1.5 quarters. No, that's not the production Bielema wants out of his defense, but it is enough for him to keep the pressure on them and to avoid any sense of complacency. There were signs the defense had a lot to work on in rush defense even before the Rebels got into the end zone -- now Bielema has the touchdowns given up to prove it.  

WHAT UNLV LOST: The Rebels didn't lose a whole lot other than the game itself. The game was a prolonged act of brutality in the first half, and it was immediately obvious that UNLV wasn't going to win this game, but the offense settled down in the second half, put together a couple touchdown drives, and at the very least covered the ~35-point spread. Further, nobody was seriously injured, and the Rebels have now gotten their most physical opponent of the season out of the way. It sounds cliche, but if the Rebels can survive a game in Madison, they can survive anything anyone else will throw at them, and that can do wonders for a rebuilding team's confidence early in the season.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Russell Wilson looked fantastic throwing the ball with his 255 yards and two passing scores, but Wilson's play of the game came courtesy of his feet. With time winding down in the first half and the ball at UNLV's 46-yard line, Wilson took off on a scramble and wove through the Rebel defense, eventually gliding into the end zone on a sensational run that was immediately evocative of Cam Newton slicing through opposing defenses at Auburn last year. Wisconsin won't face a UNLV-caliber defense in the Big Ten, to say the least, but opposing defensive coordinators are going to be losing sleep after seeing that rush.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com