2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - South Dakota at Wisconsin
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Sept. 24 at Wisconsin 59 … South Dakota 10
CFN Analysis: Alright, enough is enough. It's time for the show to begin. The Badgers needed a few drives to get warmed up, like they did against Oregon State, but once Russell Wilson found his groove, he and Nick Toon were phenomenal. The running game isn't quite blowing bad teams away like it should, but with Wilson as sharp as he's ever been, there aren't any complaints. The world will now converge on Madison for the huge game against Nebraska, and with GameDay, the primetime broadcast, and the Huskers' first Big Ten game getting all the attention, it might be easy to forget that no one is playing sharper or better than the Badgers. Of course, they haven't played anyone with a pulse.
(AP) MADISON, Wis. -- When it was all over, South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort could take some solace in the fact that his team won't be the only one blown out by No. 6 Wisconsin this year.
Not that such wisdom -- or the financial implications of a game against a superior opponent -- did much to help the mood in his locker room after being routed 59-10 by the Badgers on Saturday.
"You know there's two ways to look at it -- as long as the check clears, it's a win," Meierkort said. "That's one way to look at it. But we're football coaches and we have a lot of pride. We're the 18th-ranked team in our level. We're not used to this. It's going to take us a little time to get over this."
Quarterback Dante Warren struggled for South Dakota (2-2). He eventually was replaced by Josh Vander Maten, who led the Coyotes to a late score.
"I guess what you take from a game like this is to keep fighting and keep improving," Warren said. "And it makes us look forward to what is important for us which is winning our conference and winning that ring."
Nick Toon had a career-high 155 yards receiving and two touchdowns as Wisconsin (4-0) recovered from a slow start to take control of the game with a 21-point outburst in the final six minutes of the second quarter.
James White had a 49-yard touchdown run, Toon scored on a 59-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Russell Wilson and Toon added another score with 12 seconds left to send Wisconsin into halftime with a 31-3 lead.
"We're in a different world than this group is," said Meierkort, who began his head coaching career at Wisconsin-Stout. "We understood that coming in. We have to move on. They have their agenda and we have ours."
Wilson had another big day for the Badgers, completing 19 of 25 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns before taking a seat in the fourth quarter.
Running back Montee Ball added a pair of touchdowns for Wisconsin, which will open its Big Ten schedule at home next Saturday against No. 9 Nebraska.
"It was a learning experience," Coyotes defensive end Tyler Starr said. "We have to take what we learned and hopefully put it into a conference championship."
The Coyotes came into Saturday's game with some experience on the road in the Big Ten, having won at Minnesota last season. What they didn't have was an answer for Toon, the son of former Wisconsin and New York Jets standout Al Toon.
Wisconsin didn't appear headed toward a rout early on, squandering a handful of scoring chances and allowing the Coyotes to stick around into the second quarter.
Trailing 7-0 after a touchdown by Ball, South Dakota drove into Wisconsin territory on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter -- only to have them both end with interceptions by Wisconsin's defense.
But the Badgers managed only three points off of the two turnovers, a 25-yard field goal by Kyle French. French also missed a 50-yard attempt.
Wisconsin then allowed an even deeper drive by the Coyotes, holding on third-and-goal and forcing South Dakota to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Kevin Robb to cut the Wisconsin lead to 10-3 with 6:34 left in the second quarter.
Then Wisconsin took over, running off three straight touchdowns before halftime.
"When it was 10-3, we were living on the edge, we knew that," Meierkort said. "But our kids felt like they could compete for a while. I can see that. We watched this team on film, too, and wanted to make sure we gave it our all as long as we can. I thought they did. We just got overwhelmed by a superior team."
South Dakota (2-1) at Wisconsin (3-0) Sept. 24, 3:30, BTN
Here's The Deal … Great teams use games like this to tune up and improve, but what does Wisconsin have to do to get better other than stay healthy?
The Badgers couldn't possibly be sharper or stronger through the first two games, blowing away UNLV, Oregon State, and Northern Illinois with frightening effectiveness. Russell Wilson couldn't look better or more efficient, the running game is in midseason form, and the defense hasn't been pushed in any way. Now the goal is to keep everyone in one piece in the warm-up act before the epic showdown against Nebraska to kick off the new Big Ten season.
South Dakota isn't bad. The Coyotes started out battling with Air Force in a 37-20 loss before beating a good Eastern Washington team and blasting away on Northwest Oklahoma. They have a terrific running game and are just decent enough to be a bit more than a speedbump before the Badgers spend the second half preparing for the Huskers.
Why South Dakota Might Win: 2008 might be so three years ago, but the Badgers took their eye off the ball and almost lost to Cal Poly at the end of the season. They should've and would've lost if Cal Poly didn't gag, but there's a chance, albeit a microscopic one, that Bret Bielema's one play at a time, it's 0-0 philosophy gets caught up in the wash with all the craziness surrounding the Nebraska game next week.
The Coyotes have running backs who can crank out yards in chunks. Chris Ganious is a fringe NFL prospect with excellent speed and cutting ability, and Dante Warren is the type of dangerous dual threat playmaker who normally gives Bielema's defenses problems. There's just enough of a passing game to balance out the offense, but …
Why Wisconsin Might Win: There are few hotter or better dual threat quarterbacks in college football than NIU's Chandler Harnish, and he was shut down cold last week only running four times for -2 yards and throwing for just 164 passing yards.
The Coyote defensive front doesn't have a chance. Air Force rumbled at will for 391 yards, Eastern Washington chucked it around the yards for 369 yards, and even Northwestern Oklahoma was able to move the ball a bit. Wisconsin has been awesome in the first halves this year, outscoring the first three opponents 86-10. The Badger attack won't be stopped on the first few drives, and South Dakota won't be able to catch up.
What To Watch Out For: Someone should be fired if Russell Wilson 1) runs and takes any sort of a shot and 2) plays more than a half. He has been everything the Badgers have been hoping for and more, playing at the highest of efficient levels completing 76% of his throws for 791 yards and eight touchdowns with just one pick. He can take off and get yards in chunks on the ground at any time, but in a game like this, there's no reason to take any chances. His job will be to hang back and take target practice, but South Dakota will bring the pass rush to try to do something, anything, to disrupt the Badger attack.
Looking to get to Wilson and throw a wrench into the Bucky O is Tyler Starr, a great-looking defensive end who is quickly turning into one of the best pass rushers in the FCS. The 6-5, 236-pound sophomore came up with seven tackles and a sack with three forced fumbles against Air Force, and followed it up with two sacks against both Eastern Washington and NW Oklahoma. He's just good enough to get to Wilson a few times and make Badger fans hold their breath.
What Will Happen: The Badgers will score on their first five drives to put the game out of reach by halftime, and then it's on to gameplanning for Nebraska.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 44 … South Dakota 10
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