With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Wisconsin’s offense took the field up 51-10. However, their first-team quarterback Russell Wilson stayed on the sideline with a headset.
Wilson had done all he needed. At 10-of-13 for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air, Wilson was solid against a significantly outmatched UNLV defense.
But with all due respect to the Rebels, who went on to lose 51-17 to the No. 11 Badgers, it’s difficult to read how Wilson’s performance tonight projects on the rest of the season. After all, any quarterback can look great when given plenty of time from their offensive line and their running backs are some of the best in the country.
Oh, and good play calling from offensive coordinator Paul Chryst doesn’t hurt either.
What Wisconsin’s coaching staff needed to evaluate was how Wilson handled himself in game situations — a more NFL preseason approach, if you will. And that’s where Wilson really shined. Outside of a couple instances early where the senior overthrew a pair of wide-open targets, as well as a late first-half time management blemish during a two-minute drill, Wilson looked comfortable in the Badgers’ offense and exhibited great decision making.
His stats were inflated — a few checkdowns to his running backs accounted for over half his passing yards — but Wilson played, just as he did at North Carolina State, with a very high football IQ. The only time Wilson took a play into his own hands was during a 46-yard touchdown run toward the end of the first half.
That kind of efficiency is what Bret Bielema looks for in a quarterback, and if Wilson can continue to execute similarly to what he did tonight against better competition, Wisconsin has a great chance to make a run at another Big Ten title. The Badgers have plenty of talent to make it happen.
Oregon touched the ball 15 times in its 41-24 win over Colorado on Saturday night. Jeff Lockie played seven of them, including the first. Taylor Alie played eight.
As long as Vernon Adams nurses his broken finger, this appears to be the plan for the Ducks.
“They’d both done enough good things in practice last week to merit playing,” head coach Mark Helfrich told the Oregonian. “We just felt looking at the game plan we could parcel out aspects with each.”
“Of course you want to get into a better rhythm but that’s how it goes,” Lockie said. “We’re just going to play the best we can and as long as we’re winning games, there’s no problem with me.”
Lockie completed 8-of-11 throws for 54 yards with an interception while rushing five times for 18 yards. Alie connected on 4-of-9 throws for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on five carries. Not quite Marcus Mariota numbers from either signal caller.
“It’ll just depend on the game plan,” Helfrich said of Alie and Lockie. “I think those guys they have differences. There are some strengths and weaknesses to different areas of their game and so we’ll think about that going forward of just how the Washington State game plan comes out.”
With Oregon playing Washington and Washington State (combined Pac-12 wins thus far: zero) before a tough closing stretch, Helfrich and company have time to alternate signal callers.
The polls are meaningless. Especially any poll that isn’t the College Football Playoff top 25 and even then, as the TCU learned late last season, even the penultimate ranking is as meaningless as the paper they’re metaphorically written on.
Still, they’re catnip to college football fans and observers. Place them in front of us and we can’t help but gnaw on them.
And with that said, a bit of milestone was reached in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25, as the SEC was completely shut out of the top five.
That group breaks down as follows:
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
An SEC free top five hasn’t happened in nearly five full years; October 10, 2010 was the last time such a thing occurred. Oddly enough, two of the same five culprits occupied that ranking as well:
- Ohio State
- Boise State
Underscoring the lesson of the first paragraph, eventual national champion Auburn checked in at No. 6. Those Tigers moved up a spot the following week and never looked back.
None of this means anything at all, until it does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun along the way.