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Wilson & Wisconsin: A perfect match

Ed Wyatt

Ed Wyatt

Written on Saturday, 22 October 2011 08:35

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Feature game: Wisconsin (6-0) @ Michigan State (5-1), Sunday Oct 23, 11 am, ESPN 2.

Going into this season, Wisconsin thought it had a pretty good football team. The defense was solid, while the offense had good running backs and wide receivers, as well as one of the nation's best offensive lines. Only one thing was missing: an experienced quarterback. Enter Russell Wilson, who transferred from NC State thanks to a quirky NCAA rule and a closed-minded coach.

Players who switch colleges normally have to sit out a season of competition, but because Wilson had already graduated (and still had a year of football eligibility left) - an NCAA rule allowed him to play right away. Wilson decided to leave NC State in the first place because head coach Tom O'Brien didn't like the fact that he was playing minor league baseball and would miss spring practice.

So Wilson essentially became a "free agent" - he also considered going to Auburn - and is now the starter at Wisconsin. He's a talented, experienced quarterback who had plenty of success at NC State. Now he's leading an undefeated team that looks like it could make a lot of noise in a big BCS bowl in January.

This week, however, the Badgers face a tricky trip to East Lansing to play a one-loss Michigan State team. Wisconsin hasn't really faced stiff opposition this season and has lost its last three games at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State is a physical, defensive-minded team and will pose a challenge to Wilson and the Badger offense, which also features star runner Montee Ball (16 touchdowns). Michigan State will be hampered by the loss of defensive end William Gholston, who threw a punch at an opponent last week.

This is an important game in the race for the Big Ten title and of course, has national implications as well.

Week Eight TV Guide - Other games to watch

Sunday Oct 23, 3 am, ESPN 2, North Carolina (5-2) @ Clemson (7-0)
Why watch: Might be worth IQ'ing just to check out Clemson. The Tigers are off to their best start in 11 years and if they keep winning, will be in the national title hunt. Clemson's high-powered offense is averaging 38 points per game and features quarterback Tajh Boyd (19 touchdown passes) and exciting freshman receiver/return man Sammy Watkins. North Carolina has loads of talent but is probably a year away from being a powerhouse team. The Tarheels upended the Tigers last season.

Sunday Oct 23, 6:30 am, ESPN 2, Georgia Tech (6-1) @ Miami (3-3)
Why watch: To see how Georgia Tech responds from its first loss of the season. The Yellow Jackets were upset by Virginia last week, but still remain in control of the ACC Coastal Division. Georgia Tech is a run-first offense, but they may need to open things up against Miami. The Hurricanes, coming off a victory at North Carolina, have yet to win two in a row. Quarterback Jacory Harris has been solid, throwing eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three games.

Sunday Oct 23, 10:15 am, ESPN, Tennessee (3-3) @ Alabama (7-0)
Why watch: To see the #2 team in the country in action. Alabama has the NCAA's best defense and is outscoring teams by more than 32 points per game. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 52-7 win at Mississippi, its biggest SEC Conference win in more than 20 years. Pity poor Tennessee, which had to play #1 ranked LSU last week (a 38-7 loss) and now must face #2 Alabama and talented running back Trent Richardson.

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