Despite the prognosticating and stat-crunching going in the opposing camps, there are solid reasons to believe ASU will prevail over Wisconsin in the swelter of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
Reason #1: Wisconsin has a new man at the helm
The Gary Andersen era at Wisconsin is off-and-running, but has it really gotten started? Let’s face it, the Badgers showed little of the effects of their coaching change in pounding a weak UMass team in their first game. Nor did they prove anything in beating up on Tennessee Tech, an FCS school, last weekend.
In other words, Anderson’s influence on the Wisconsin program has yet to be demonstrated. So it’s wise to assume he and his staff still has a few kinks to work out.
Reason #2: The Badger backfield has a meeting with Mr. Sutton and Mr. Bradford
Okay, we’ll admit it: The Wisconsin running game looked mighty potent against Tennessee Tech, racking up 606 yards on the Golden Eagles and averaging 7.6 yards per carry on 51 rushing attempts. It features three backs—sophomore Melvin Gordon, senior James White and freshman Corey Clement—averaging at least 125 yards per game. White is the leading active rusher in the FBS with 2,823 career-rushing yards.
Of course, Bucky and Co. have yet to encounter ASU DT Will Sutton and LB Carl Bradford. Sutton is out to prove he’s a legitimate first-round NFL prospect, and Bradford is ready to step out of Sutton’s shadow as a leader on the Sun Devil defense. What better place to do this than in the bright lights of a nationally televised ESPN game?
Reason #3: The entire country is about to find out about Taylor Kelly
Last year at this time, ASU fans watched Taylor Kelly earn the starting QB job for the Sun Devils and asked, “Who is this guy?” After all, Kelly rose from third-string in the preseason to lead his team to a surprising 8-5 record and a win against Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Now college sports fans everywhere will get a taste of the ASU football, Kelly-style.
In the Sun Devils’ opening game against Sac State, Kelly was nothing short of spectacular. He completed 23-of-31 passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns—with no interceptions. Best of all, the junior quarterback has a cupboard full of talented wide receivers, tight ends and running backs at his disposal.
Wisconsin will be hard-pressed to keep the high-powered ASU offense out of the end zone, especially when playing in 100+ degree heat, and at the mercy of a rabid home crowd.