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.