Vanquish the Foe: Wisconsin struggled a little the last time they faced a highly athletic QB in Ohio State's Braxton Miller. Outside of Chris Borland, how will the Badgers try to bottle up BYU's QB running game?
Mike: Wisconsin's defense wasn't terrible vs. Braxton Miller, limiting him to 3.8 yards per carry and a long of 15 yards. If the Badgers hold contain and stick to their principles, the defense is more than capable of shutting down BYU's QB running game. Chris Borland gets the props because he's Chris Borland, but linebackers Brendan Kelly, Joe Schobert, Ethan Armstrong and Vince Biegel have been stellar on the outside. Up the middle, nose tackle Beau Allen, Borland and linebackers Derek Landisch and Connor O'Neill have been solid as well.
VTF: Jared Abbrederis it outstanding, but who else is catching passes for Wisconsin?
Mike: That's the lingering question. Right now, it's tight end Jacob Pedersen and a combination that varies by game. Pedersen's second behind Abbrederis (46 receptions, 782 yards and six touchdowns) with 18 receptions, 251 yards and three touchdowns, and you can see how wide that disparity is. Behind him is actually running back James White, who has excelled at catching passes out of the backfield and in screen looks. White has 23 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown, and no other Badger has double-digit receptions.
That's fine most of the time, considering the success of Wisconsin's running game -- and we obviously knew that'd be the case. At times, though, when the Badgers' offense stalls and a big play is needed from someone not named White or Melvin Gordon, fans clamor for a receiver to show up. A lot of that falls on Joel Stave's inconsistency as a passer, and Pedersen's still the most likely No. 2 option. Still, it's most regularly a by-commitee thing.
VTF: What might Wisconsin try to do to slow down all-world Kyle Van Noy?
Mike: Honestly, I wouldn't expect Wisconsin to sway much from its regular game plan because of Van Noy's presence. The Badgers certainly recognize his ability and output, but Gordon and White can compete against any defense in the country. Iowa did the best job to date of limiting the rushing attack, but eventually White broke out in the second half.
VTF: Our two fanbases are...a little different. What kind of reception should BYU fans expect in Madison? Will you all go easy on us?
Mike: The fan bases certainly are different, but for the most part, Wisconsin fans are very nice and will enjoy a friendly competition with BYU fans over the weekend. Hopefully, there's a lot of you that make the trip to Madison. There will always be the outliers, and they're unfortunately the people that degrade fan experiences. Still, I would come to Madison expecting to have a great time with us, win or lose.
VTF: How do you like the idea of a late November non-conference game?
Mike: The idea of a non-conference game this late in the season is odd, but I think it's a cool little twist considering Wisconsin's last three games after this are Indiana, Minnesota and Penn State. Otherwise, I don't think it means a whole lot to UW fans, but Wisconsin's in the position where it just has to win out, and then hope for outside help to get an at-large BCS bid.
VTF: How has the fan base received Gary Anderson in Madison? How has Anderson done in his first year at a BCS program? Do you think he will be a good fit and/or long term coach there?
Mike: The fan base is fully behind Andersen, especially since his only two losses so far were the debacle against Arizona State and then a close, hard-fought one to Ohio State. Fans love the fact that his player-first mentality has carried forward into the season, between him dressing up as a player for Halloween, blocking Beau Allen in practice and keeping a calm lid on things.
I think he'll be a fantastic long-term coach here, especially since he's already enjoyed impressive recruiting success thus far. The Badgers' 2014 class is currently considered No. 3 in the Big Ten by 247's composite rankings, behind only Ohio State and Michigan.
VTF: One last question, what's your prediction and why?
Mike: My prediction is Wisconsin 34, BYU 24. I see this one being close, but not too close early on before either White or Gordon busts loose and opens up BYU's defense.