From The Sports Network
By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers are set to cap off a three-game homestand and their non-conference slate this weekend, as they welcome the Austin Peay Governors to Madison.
The Badgers were matched against their toughest opponent of the season last weekend and needed a blocked extra-point to survive Arizona State, 20-19, at Camp Randall Stadium. Despite the unexpected tight game, Wisconsin is still off to a 3-0 start for the seventh straight year and the program has won 27 consecutive non-conference regular-season games dating back to 2003. The Badgers, though, know they need to improve on some things this weekend, as this is their final preparation before beginning Big Ten play at Michigan State on October 2nd.
As for the Govs, they are a Football Championship Subdivision program that enters the game with a 2-1 record. The team most recently opened its Ohio Valley Conference schedule with a 26-23 victory over Tennessee State last weekend. This is the second game versus a FBS opponent for APSU, which was defeated by Middle Tennessee (56-33) on September 11th.
This is the first-ever meeting between APSU and Wisconsin on the gridiron.
Jake Ryan threw a seven-yard TD pass to Adrian Mines with 40 seconds to go, lifting APSU to a 26-23 victory over TSU last weekend. It was the lone TD pass from Ryan, who finished the game 13-of-21 for 178 yards with one INT. With under 500 yards through the air for the season, the Govs are obviously not much of a passing team, so expect them to try and control the game on the ground. Ryan White heads the ground attack, which is averaging 189.0 ypg, with 290 yards and two scores. He is averaging 7.4 yards per carry after posting 112 yards and a score on 17 attempts last weekend. Terrence Holt is another option, as he ranks second on the team with 180 rushing yards.
If the Govs are to have any shot this weekend, they will need to improve their run defense. Wisconsin has one of the top ground attacks around and that isn't good news for an APSU club that is permitting 219.0 rushing ypg thus far. Last weekend, the unit did show a slight improvement by holding TSU to 162 yards, although that is still too much. The Govs also failed to create turnover last game after recording eight takeaways in the first two games, so they will need to be a little more aggressive as well. Darrick Dillard currently paces the defense with 25 stops and that includes a seven-tackle effort last weekend.
The Badgers have churned out the yards on the ground, as expected, heading into the weekend with an average of 228.0 rushing ypg. Last weekend, Wisconsin produced 194 rushing yards and used its ground attack to run out the final four-plus minutes of the 20-19 victory over Arizona State.
"For us to finish the way they did, you can't ask for anything more," stated head coach Bret Bielema.
Tailback John Clay led the charge on the ground with 123 yards and a TD on 22 carries, extending his streak of 100-yard efforts to nine straight games. The bruising back has now accumulated 383 yards and five scores on the ground, while averaging a hardy 6.2 yards per carry.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien also turned in a solid performance to help beat Arizona State, converting 19-of-25 pass attempts for 246 yards and a TD. It was one of the better performances of the season from Tolzien, who has been efficient in hitting on 73.1 percent of his tosses.
Tight end Lance Kendricks enjoyed a career day in the win with seven receptions for 131 yards and he also scored a TD for the second consecutive week. With a team-high 11 catches, he is obviously becoming one of Tolzien's favorite targets.
The Wisconsin defense had some trouble slowing down Arizona State last weekend, but the special teams came to the rescue by blocking a game-tying extra-point late in the fourth quarter. The block by Jay Valai made the difference in a 20-19 victory.
"That block that we put on there was the only time it's been called. Actually, I believe that was the only time it has been called this year," stated Bielema.
The defense, though, was gashed for 169 rushing yards on only 28 carries, clearly a negative performance from a unit that is allowing just 112.0 ypg on the ground for the season. Overall, though, the Badgers' defense permitted just two TDs, and the unit was led by Louis Nzegwu, who recorded seven tackles and a sack. Unfortunately, LB Chris Borland, the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year, re-injured his surgically repaired left shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.