Scouting Wisconsin: Badgers make rare trip West to play BYU

September 15, 2017

Location: Madison, Wisconsin.

Facilities: Camp Randall Stadium (80,321 capacity)

Coach: Paul Chryst (3rd season, 23-6)

2016 Record: 11-3

2017 Ranking: No. 10

Series: Tied at 1-1. Wisconsin won in Madison in 2013 (27-17). BYU won in Madison in 1980 (28-3).

What’s the big deal?

A Big Ten team coming to LaVell Edwards Stadium? Now there’s a rare treat, because this is the first time. (Penn State is currently in the Big Ten but when the Nittany Lions came to Provo in 1992, they were playing as an independent).

Wisconsin is 2-0 and ranked No. 10 after convincing wins against Utah State (59-10) and Florida Atlantic (31-14). It’s a typical Badger team with a rugged running game and a disciplined defense. Meanwhile, the Badgers aren’t sure which quarterback they will face. Tanner Mangum injured his ankle on the final offensive play of the game against Utah and his status is uncertain for Saturday’s game. If Mangum can’t go, sophomore Beau Hoge will make his first collegiate start.

Perhaps the altitude will get to the Badgers, which started slowly in both of their wins. But BYU is a 17-point underdog for a reason and it would take an amazing effort to come out with a victory on Saturday.

Numbers to ponder

The last time Wisconsin came West for a game was at Arizona State in 2013, a 32-30 loss. … Three BYU players who wore the No. 6 — Marc Wilson, Robbie Bosco and Luke Staley — will have their jerseys retired at halftime. … The contest against Wisconsin is the 1,000th game in BYU football history.

He said it

“I think they’ve got a good system and they understand it. I think they’ve got good skill in the secondary, and they play hard. They’ve got good players. They’ve got physical players and enough movement and pressures — a lot of different types of pressures you have to prepare for.” — Chryst speaking to the Wisconsin media about playing BYU.

What you need to know about the Badgers

Remember how LSU was “DB U?” Wisconsin is “RB U.” The Badgers churn out 1,000-yard rushers and future NFL running backs seemingly every year. In the past, it’s been players such as 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett, Monte Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon. This year’s stud is true freshman Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the victory against Florida Atlantic.

Wisconsin’s offensive line history is pretty good, too, but the Badgers are a little banged up here. Left guard Jon Dietzen, who started last week against Florida Atlantic and played most of the game, and right guard Beau Benzschawel, who left the game early in the second quarter, are questionable this week.

Former Wisconsin All-American Jim Leonhard was named the defensive coordinator after just one season as the defensive backs coach. The Badgers’ defense lost a key component before the season started in linebacker Jack Cichy but have plenty of talent to rank among the best defenses in the country.

Chryst’s Final Word

“Typically, you see something that you haven’t seen. How are they are going to defend us? We don’t know, but I’ve been impressed watching their defense.”

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