The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The San Jose Spartans continue their early-season trek through some of the most treacherous waters imaginable as a week after taking on the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, they head north to battle the 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
This is the second straight year that San Jose State has opened the season against two teams in the Top-25, and the Spartans last beat a ranked opponent in 2000 when they topped No. 9 TCU at home in a 27-24 final. The last time SJSU won against a ranked foe on the road was when it knocked off No. 9 Baylor in 1980, 30-22.
Last week's 48-3 shellacking at Alabama spoiled the head coaching debut of Mike McIntyre, who took over for the retired Dick Tomey.
Wisconsin is 1-0 on the young season after beating UNLV last Saturday, 41-21. It was the 26th straight non-conference victory for the Badgers, who will be looking to win their 15th straight home opener this weekend. Under current coach Bret Bielema, UW is 12-0 against non-league foes at home.
This game marks only the second meeting between these two schools in football, the first encounter going to the Badgers, 56-10, at Spartan Stadium on September 13, 1997.
The Spartans gained just 175 total yards in last week's dismantling at Alabama, as senior QB Jordan La Secla completed a mere 7-of-14 passes for 85 yards with an INT. The SJSU ground attack didn't fare much better, accounting for 89 yards on 3.1 ypc. Brandon Rutley finished with 52 yards on 13 totes, and the Spartans were limited to seven first downs, going a paltry 1-of-13 on third-down conversion attempts.
La Secla, while disappointed in the outcome, tried to be optimistic when asked about SJSU's effort on offense against one of the top defenses in the country, "I feel like we did some good things. We showed we had some big play capability and we moved the ball pretty well at times. The score wasn't what we really wanted it to look like. Other than that we answered some questions on offense that we can move the ball. The next step is getting it into the end zone."
Despite the absence of Heisman-winning RB Mark Ingram, the Alabama offense had a field day against the San Jose State defense, scoring on five of its eight first-half possessions and racking up 591 total yards for the game -- 257 rushing and 334 passing. The Crimson Tide averaged 8.3 yards per offensive play, converted 7-of-13 third-down chances and scored on 3-of-4 trips to the red zone.
Linebackers Tiuk Tuipulotu and Vince Buhagiar logged nine tackles apiece for the Spartans in the loss, while CB Peyton Thompson was credited with seven stops and three PBUs.
The Badgers controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in their 20-point win at UNLV last Saturday night. A year after leading the nation in time of possession, the Wisconsin offense held onto the ball for 38:19 in the opener, using a punishing ground attack to hammer the Rebels into submission.
Running backs John Clay and Montee Ball ran for two TDs each and combined with James White to post 261 rushing yards on the night, while QB Scott Tolzien completed 15-of-20 passes for 197 yards with an INT. In all, the Badgers racked up 475 yards of total offense to just 217 for UNLV.
Defensively, Wisconsin permitted the Rebels just 10 first downs with an average of 4.1 yards per offensive play. UNLV finished with 112 yards on the ground, snapping a streak of 10 games where the Badgers held the opposition below 100 yards rushing. They also made plenty of plays in the backfield, logging four sacks and six TFLs, picking up where they left off last season when they led the Big Ten Conference in both categories. The UW defense also got a score of its own when Aaron Henry returned a fumble 20 yards at the start of the third quarter.
Linebacker Jean St. Culme led the Badgers with seven tackles, while fellow backer Chris Borland made two of his five stops in the UNLV backfield. Defensive end J.J. Watt seemed to be all over the field, making four tackles, forcing the fumble that led to Henry's TD, and batting down three passes at the line of scrimmage.
Coach Bielema was pleased with the overall effort put forth by his defense, "My hat goes off to the defense because I thought they played well all day."
Expect another long day for the Spartans who simply lack the overall talent and depth needed to compete with the top teams in the nation. The Badgers should have very little trouble winning their 15th straight home opener.