Arizona State Sun Devils vs Wisconsin Badgers Scouting Report
The Arizona State Sun Devils head to Madison, Wisconsin this Saturday to take on the AP ranked No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers in the first true test of the season for both teams.
The Sun Devils are fresh off wins over FCS teams Portland State and Northern Arizona, the Wisconsin Badgers with wins over UNLV and San Jose State.
In a week where the Pac-10 is being tested, the Sun Devils are out to prove themselves against a nationally ranked team, while Wisconsin looks to move further down the ranks.
Let's compare the strengths and weaknesses of both teams heading into Saturday's big game.
Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien is often overshadowed by the Badgers' prominent rushing game, but the senior can get the job done.
In 2009, Tolzien led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and is 12-3 as a starter for Wisconsin. He has completed 30 of 42 for 388 yards and one touchdown on the season so far, with two interceptions.
Steven Threet heads into the game with tremendous numbers. Completing 47 of 70 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns. The junior quarterback has also thrown three interceptions in the first two games.
While Threet's number appear staggeringly better, it has to be remembered that Wisconsin is known to execute the run more than the air-strike, which shows in Tolzien's statistics.
Wisconsin is averaging 245 rushing yards a game by implementing a three-back-attack in John Clay, Montee Ball, and James White.
Clay, a possible Heisman candidate, has rushed for 260 yards and four touchdowns in 2010 with the help of a huge offensive line. The Badgers' front line is averaging 6'6" 320 pounds in size, towering over ASU's offensive line in height and weight.
Arizona State's new offensive scheme is thriving with the spread offense brought in by offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. The Sun Devils are averaging 47.5 points and 501.5 yards a game, 352.5 of that being done in the air.
The Sun Devils' running game needs improvement after being held to just 59 rushing yards against FCS foe Northern Arizona. NAU limited ASU to average 1.9 yards per carry in week two.
Head coach Dennis Erickson continues to shift players on the offensive line, trying to find the perfect combination after numerous injuries and the limited size to work with.
Wisconsin's defensive line has a huge size advantage over the Arizona State offensive line, making it that much more difficult to establish a running game.
The tough Badger defense is giving up 262 yards per game and last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, linebacker Chris Borland, is expected to return after an injury.
The Badgers are ranked No. 22 against the run, allowing 83.5 yards a game, but No. 47 in the country in passing defense by allowing 178.5 yards of passing.
Arizona State yields the No. 7 rushing defense in the country heading into week 3, after having the best rush defense in the Pac-10 for the 2009 season.
While the Sun Devil pass defense is not as stout, allowing 189 yards a game, the defense is still looking to live up to it's potential.
Arizona State middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the 2009 Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year, will likely have a huge game against the Wisconsin rush attack if he limits his immature personal fouls.
Advantage: Arizona State
Vontaze Burfict vs. John Clay
Burfict stands at 6'3"and 245 pounds, while Clay has a stature of 6'1", 255 pounds—making for a pretty even match-up.
These two team standouts are probably the most intense players to take the field on Saturday, and will likely go head-to-head numerous times.
Wisconsin is the clear favorite heading into Saturday's showdown.
The Wisconsin Badgers have won their last 25 consecutive home games against un-ranked opponents at Camp Randall Stadium and won their last 26 against non-conference games regardless of the location.
The Sun Devils haven't won against a ranked non-conference opponent since 1997. If the Sun Devils are to have any success in Madison, Wisconsin, everything must click.