What: Troy Trojans vs. Wisconsin BadgersScreen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.51.30 AM
: Camp Randall Stadium (Madison, WI)
When: Sept. 19, 2:30 P.M. CT
Radio: Badger Sports Network
Odds: WISC -35; O/U 58

In case you are wondering why Troy decided to make the trip to Camp Randall tomorrow to be a 35-point underdog, the Sun Belt program is getting $1.15 million to play in Madison. But, as Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst has said all week, this game will be closer than a 35-point difference.

Getting to Know Troy

After going 3-9 last season, Troy comes into this game as a 1-1 team that lost a blowout to North Carolina State in Week 1, but toppled Charleston Southern in Week 2. Against NC State, the Trojans struggled to stop running back Matthew Dayes, turned the ball over twice, and went 1-9 on third down. Turnovers and third down conversions are often difference makers, especially for underdogs. In their win against Charleston South,  Teddy Ruben and Brandon Burks combined for five touchdowns, and quarterback Brandon Silvers went 19/28 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. The team yet again struggled on third down, going 4-11.

But, what really stood out in both of these contests was that Troy’s defense allowed NC State to have the ball for 41 plus minutes and Charleston Southern almost 40 minutes. The Trojans cannot afford to be that inefficient on third down against the Badgers, and they especially cannot only have the ball for 20 or less minutes against the balanced Badgers attack.

Silvers has played very well in both games, as his season passer rating is at 168.9. He has lead Troy to 30th in the nation in points scored thus far. The team is 45th in points against, and the defense has two huge tackles in Garrett Peek and Lonnie Gosha who could give the Badgers’ struggling offensive line fits. Linebacker William Lloyd leads the team in tackles, and defensive end Rashad Dillard, tied for sacks with 1.5, leads the pass rush.

Troy will be without junior running back Jordan Chunn, who has 21 career rushing touchdowns.

Wisconsin Looks to Extend Non-conference Winning Streak at Home

The Badgers seek their 34th-consecutive win in a non-conference home game, which would extend the eighth-longest streak in NCAA history. After last week’s 58-0 shutout of Miami (OH), the Badgers come in after a great performance from quarterback Joel Stave and with a defense that forced four turnovers against the RedHawks.

Stave provided balance to the Badgers’ offense once again last week, throwing for 236 yards on 19/30 for three touchdowns and an interception in a little less than three quarters of play. The emergence of wide receiver Rob Wheelwright, who has three receiving touchdowns this season, and the probable return of tight end Troy Fumagalli should continue to help Stave have an even better Week 3.

Wisconsin will be without star running back Corey Clement (groin) for a second straight game, as the team will try to get him healthy by the time the Badgers start their Big Ten schedule against Iowa on October 3rd. So, the team will rely on a speed-power combination of Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal once again. After his first career 100-yard game last week, the Badgers hope to see Ogunbowale run all over the Trojans.

I’ve been very critical of the Badgers’ right side of the offensive line the first two games of the season. After benching right tackle Hayden Biegel last week at one point and shifting right guard Walker Williams to RT while bringing in right guard Micah Kapoi, Chryst said the team plans to give Kapoi more snaps this week to get their offensive line figured out by the time Big Ten play comes around. As it turns out, Williams is out this week with an ankle injury, so Kapoi will start. Redshirt freshman Beau Benzschawel is also close to returning from an injury, so he could be in the mix once healthy. It will be interesting to see how the offensive line does protecting for Stave again this week, and opening up holes for Ogunbowale and Deal.

On defense, Michael Caputo returned last week, and his presence was felt in the box and in coverage. Leo Musso had two interceptions against Miami (OH), and outside linebackers Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert continued to pressure the quarterback. Tanner McEvoy will officially start at safety alongside Caputo. This will be McEvoy’s second straight game starting on both sides of the ball, and we’ll see how many snaps he plays after playing 70 plus snaps last week.

The front seven will look to put pressure on Troy and hope to force the efficient Silvers to make some mistakes. Look for inside linebackers T.J. Edwards and Leon Jacobs to have big games stopping the run, with cornerbacks Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary having to make a few big plays early on.

Keys to the Game

  • Dare Ogunbowale rushing for over 100 yards.
  • The Badgers’ offensive line finding a rhythm and giving Stave more time and committing less penalties.
  • The Badgers’ defensive line and outside linebackers getting pressure on Troy QB Silvers.
  • Stopping the Troy running game and the quick RB Burks.
  • Special teams needs to continue to make plays.


All in all, the Badgers should still be able to cruise against Troy with their balanced offensive attack and stout defense. Wisconsin 51, Troy 10.

Fun Facts from the Game Notes

  • Wisconsin is 69-7 (.908) at home since the start of the 2004 season. Nationally, only Boise State (69-3, .958) has won a higher percentage of its home games than the Badgers in that time frame. Only Ohio State (71) has won more home games than the Badgers over that span.
  • Over its last seven non-conference home games, Wisconsin has allowed its opponents to score an average of just 6.7 points, including three shutouts.
  • Junior WR Robert Wheelwright caught two touchdown passes vs. Miami (Ohio) and has three scores on the season.
  • Senior QB Joel Stave has posted consecutive 200-yard passing games to open the season. He is tied for the lead in touchdown passes (5) and ranks in a tie for third in completion percentage (65.2%) among Big Ten quarterbacks. Only Purdue’s Austin Appleby (51) has completed more passes than Stave’s 45 among conference QBs.
  • Junior WR Robert Wheelwright entered the season with three total receptions for his career but has already caught three touchdown passes — tied for No. 5 nationally in TD receptions.
  • Leading the way for Wisconsin’s defense, senior OLB Joe Schobert is tied for No. 6 nationally with 3.0 sacks. Schobert also ranks in a tie for No. 7 with 5.0 tackles for loss.
  • Sophomore K Rafael Gaglianone went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts vs. Miami (Ohio). He has converted four straight attempts and made 18 of his last 19 kicks, dating back to last season. (Read more, Page 5)
  • UW redshirt freshman RB Taiwan Deal and Troy sophomore DE Sam Lebbie were high school teammates at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, MD.

Images from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department.