On Saturday BYU heads to Madison Wisconsin to take on the #24 ranked Wisconsin Badgers at historic Camp Randall stadium. The Badgers are coming into the contest off a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes a week ago in Iowa City.
The only losses on the season for the Badgers were at the hands of the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes and in a controversial finish on the road at the Arizona State Sun Devils who are also ranked in the top 25. The Wisconsin victories have come against the likes of UMass and Tennessee Tech in the non-conference as well as Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and the Hawkeyes in Big 10 play.
This will be the second all-time meeting between the two schools. BYU won the first match-up behind the strong arm of Cougar legend Jim McMahon back in 1980.
The Badgers are coached by Gary Andersen who is in his first season at the helm after spending the previous four years as the head man at Utah State. Much of his staff will also be familiar to Cougar fans as well. The offense is run by Andy Ludwig who also spent time as the offensive coordinator at the University of Utah.
On the season, the Badgers are averaging 38.4 points per game while allowing only 15. The reason for their success on offense comes from the Badgers' impressive ground game. The Wisconsin rushing attack is ranked tenth in the country averaging 287 yards a contest and second in yards per rushing attempt at 6.67 ranking behind only the Oregon Ducks. The Badgers have three backs averaging more than 50 yards a contest with two players getting the bulk of the carries since conference play started.
Red-shirt sophomore Melvin Gordon leads the way for Wisconsin with 1074 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 124 carries. That gives Gordon an average of 8.7 yards every time he takes a hand off this season. Gordon is joined in the backfield by senior James White. White has also been dominant on the ground for the Badgers this season. He has registered 127 carries and has racked up 804 yards and nine touchdowns. White is also a threat in the passing game. He has caught 23 passes for 208 yards and another score in 2013.
The passing game isn't quite as dynamic as the running game but has still been effective at times this year. The Badgers average nearly 210 yards a game through the air behind the arm of red-shirt sophomore quarterback Joel Stave. On the season, Stave has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1630 yards and 15 touchdowns.
His favorite target in the passing game is senior wide out Jared Abbrederis. Abbrederis has 46 receptions for 782 yards and six touchdowns. The only other Wisconsin player with double figure catches in 2013 is senior tight end Jacob Pedersen. Pedersen has 18 grabs for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
As impressive as the offense has been for Wisconsin this year, the defense has been even better. The defense is led by first year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda who came with Andersen from Utah State. The Badger 3-4 has been one of the best in all of the FBS and they have the numbers to prove it. The Wisconsin defense ranks 5th in the nation in both scoring and rushing defense, ranks 6th in total defense and ranks 15th in passing defense. The Badgers defense is seemingly always in their opponent's backfield having already registered 43 tackles for loss and 18 sacks.
The defense is led by senior inside linebacker Chris Borland. Borland has been named a semifinalist for both the Butkus and Bednarik Awards and for good reason. He leads the team with 57 tackles even though he missed a game. Borland has also registered 3 TFL's and 2 sacks.
Some other players to watch for on the front seven are defensive end Pat Muldoon, nose guard Warren Herring, Linebackers Ethan Armstrong and Coner O'Neill.
Senior Pat Muldoon has 22 tackles, 4.5 TFL's, 2 sacks and an interception. Junior Warren Herring leads the team in both TFL's with 5 and sacks with 3. Senior Ethan Armstrong is third on the team with 34 tackles and has also registered 3 TFL's and a sack. Senior Coner O'Neill is fourth on the team with 31 tackles and also has accounted for 4.5 TFL's and 2 sacks.
The players to watch in the secondary are corner back Sojourn Shelton along with safety's Michael Caputo and Dezmen Southward.
Freshman Sojourn Shelton leads the team in both interceptions with 3 and passes defensed with 6. Sophomore free safety Michael Caputo is second on the team with 40 tackles including 2 TFL's. Senior strong safety Dezmen Southward is tied for 5th on the team in tackles with 24 as well as 3.5 TFL's, an interception and a fumble recovery.