Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17: Rapid Reaction

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Thursday’s opener was a hot and muggy one, but the weather had no effect on the Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) who absolutely dominated UNLV (0-1) by the score of 51-17. The Badgers have now won 14-straight season-openers and improve to 21-0 versus non-conference foes under Head Coach Bret Bielema.

Russell Wilson’s debut was everything we imagined it would be and more as he finished 10-for-13 for 255 yards and two touchdowns through the air. His impressive speed was also on display with 62 yards on the ground, including an electric 46 yard touchdown in the second quarter.


What It Means:
Beating the Rebels doesn’t equate to much for the Badgers, but the fashion they displayed while beating UNLV does mean something. If the Badgers want to be legitimate contenders for the National Championship, they need to light up the scoreboard at every chance. Wilson didn’t seem to have any problems running the show behind center and Wisconsin’s offense looks like it did at the end of the conference season last year.

The defense is another story. Despite giving up only three points in the first half, UNLV did have some success running with the quarterback and had open receivers most of the night.  Bielema seems like he will stick to the “bend,  but don’t break,” philosophy going forward with the defense. That means we could see some shoot-outs when more offensive potent teams play against the Badgers.

Player of the Game: RB Montee Ball (130 all-purpose yards and 4 TDs)

Ball looked like a Heisman-hopeful on Thursday night as he dynamically scored touchdowns on the ground and through the air. The expected feature back took advantage of every opportunity while scorching UNLV for three rushing touchdowns and another through the air. The four touchdowns is the most for a Badger RB in the season opener since Brian Calhoun had five back in 2005.

Baked Potatoes with cottage cheese must make all the difference because that is what Ball’s diet consisted of this off-season while on a mission to slim down 25 pounds. Instead of being a more physical back, Ball looks like he’s become a lot more agile and speedy around the corners.

Highlight of the Game: For most of the first half, it looked like the Badgers didn’t even need Russell Wilson with the way the running game was working. Then Wilson turned on the jets right before halftime to scamper for a 46 yard touchdown to show how dangerous he is with his shoes.

Stat of the Game: Wisconsin had seven plays of more than 20 yards in the first half. We knew this offense had the propensity to be efficient, but we didn’t know they would be so explosive.

What’s Next: On Saturday, September 10th, the Badgers welcome in the Oregon State Beavers for a 11 a.m. match-up scheduled to air on ESPN or ESPN2. The Beavers should provide a stiffer test for Wisconsin as they are a lot better than UNLV. The Beavers aren’t expected win the Pac-12 North, but they are projected to go bowling. It will also be the first true test for the Badgers defense.

What did you think of the Badgers domination of the Rebels? Was Russell Wilson’s start everything you imagined it would be? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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