Week 3's Game Worth Paying Attention To
Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton
Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton
Posted Sep 13, 2012

Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction – Utah State at Wisconsin

- CFN Fearless Predictions

Utah State (2-0) at Wisconsin (1-1) Sept. 15, 8:00, BTN

Here's The Deal: This looked like a possible upset special before the season, but any shock value is out the window now after Utah State's thrilling win over Utah and Wisconsin's complete and total clunker in a loss to Oregon State. The Aggies are past being fazed by a big setting having played in several big games and big moments since the beginning of last year, but can they rise up and come up with a win over a rocky Badger squad that so far qualifies as 2012's biggest disappointment?

It's panic time in Madison. This was a team with the make-up and the schedule to be in the national championship discussion, but so far it needed to hang on for dear life against Northern Iowa from the FCS world and played a strange game against the Beavers last week, abandoning the running game and choosing to throw and throw some more despite the loss of No. 1 receiver Jared Abbrederis. Offensive line coach Mike Markuson was fired after his front five has gotten off to a lousy start, and now it's not a foregone conclusion that the Badgers are going to roll through the depleted Leaders division on the way to the Big Ten championship game. There's still time to turn things back around, and playing UTEP next week should help the cause, but this isn't the same team that dominated over the last two seasons.

If Utah State can win, then it's Game On for discussion about BCS buster possibilities. There's still a date at BYU to deal with, and going to Louisiana Tech will be a problem in WAC play, but if the Aggies are good enough to beat Utah and Wisconsin, they're good enough to be double-digit favorites against everyone else on the schedule but the Cougars and Bulldogs.

Why Utah State Might Win: Wisconsin is dead last in the Big Ten in rushing. It's not working with the O line not generating any sort of a push and the passing game not finding anything deep with Abbrederis likely out this week after getting blasted in the chest in the loss to OSU. The Utah State offense should work with the quick running game likely to give the talented but slowish Badger linebacking corps fits, but more than anything else, the Aggies might actually have a stunning advantage on defense if the Wisconsin ground game continues to struggle. Utah State's active and athletic front seven held Utah to just 96 rushing yards and holding John White to 3.6 yards per pop.

Why Wisconsin Might Win: What stops a great running game and a mobile quarterback? Smart, tough linebackers who don't make mistakes. Mike Taylor and Chris Borland aren't speedsters, but they're two of the nation's best-tackling linebackers and they were terrific last week against the Beavers. Lost in last week's disaster was how the defense stopped the Oregon State offense allowing just ten points and not giving up a thing on the ground. Utah State will get more than the 161 yards the Badgers have allowed on the ground over the first two games, but it will be kept in several third and long situations. On the other side of the ball, watch out for a much improved game from a Badger O line that's being called out after a rocky start.

What To Watch Out For: Montee Ball will get the ball. The Heisman finalist failed to score a touchdown for the first time since sitting out the 2010 Ohio State game. One of college football's all-time greatest scorers and stat backs ran the ball just 15 times for 61 yards, and with Abbrederis out he was used as a go-to target with four catches for 18 yards. Wisconsin is in desperation mode, and historically, that means its star running back gets more than 30 carries.

What Will Happen: Look for a refocused Wisconsin team to come out angry. The team took Oregon State too lightly, but that's not going to be an issue against Utah State. The defense will play like it did against the Beavers while the Bucky offense will look like the Bucky offense again.

CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 34 … Utah State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Wisconsin -14 O/U: 51
Must Watch Rating (5 – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX, 1 – Go On): 3.5