The Badgers are looking for their third 3-0 start in four seasons, and their 15th win in 16 non-conference games.
Wisconsin beat up on some questionable competition in its first two outings, defeating Bowling Green (56-42) and Temple (65-0).
“This team has scored 1,000 points here in the first two games and they’ve run for 1,000 yards,” joked John Bunting. “They took it easy on Temple in the second half.”
This will mark the fourth time Wisconsin, of the Big 10, has ever faced an ACC opponent and the first time on the road.
QUOTABLE – BARRY ALVAREZ
“UNC is multiple in what it does offensively. They like to run the football. A lot of the stuff they do is similar to us with the movement of the tight ends. But in the same respect, they’re three wides, four wides, sometimes five wides. They’re not going to be exclusively a five-wide team. (Their) offensive coordinator grew up in my neck of the woods, so if he can run it, he’ll run it.”
John Stocco (#7, 6-2, 197, Jr.) is 11-3 in his career as a starter. His 2,418 passing yards is good enough for the school’s 13th best mark. He passed for a career-best three touchdowns against the Owls. Stocco has thrown at least one scoring pass in 10 of his 14 starts. He’s currently ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (193.3). Tyler Donavan (#12, 6-1, 187, So.) is a speedy backup that saw his most extensive action against Temple. He was 3-for-6 passing for 49 yards and a touchdown and rushed five times for 30 yards and a score.
Tailback Brian Calhoun (#2, 5-10, 194, Jr.) makes the Badgers go. His 18.0 points-per-game-average (6 TDs) is tied for first nationally. The Colorado transfer entered the season with five career touchdowns to his credit. He was named the Big Ten Player of the Week following his 43-carry, 258-yard, five touchdown performance in the Badger’s win over the Falcons.
“I can’t think of a running back we’ve played in my four years and one game here that’s as good as ‘No. 2’,” Bunting said.
Calhoun with his O-Line
Booker Stanley (#32, 5-10, 214, Jr.) scored three touchdowns, from five, one and two yards out, in the Badgers’ 38-27 win over the Tar Heels at Camp Randall two years ago. Calhoun and Stanley each rushed for over 100 yards in Week 1. Wisconsin has three backs that have enjoyed 100-yard rushing performances. Calhoun and Stanley have each done it five times, and fullback Matt Bernstein (#45, 6-2, 266, Jr.), a team captain, accomplished the feat once. Last week, third-string tailback Jamil Walker (#42, 6-2, 215, So.) reeled off a team-high 79 yards rushing on 13 carries and a touchdown.
Three veterans highlight this group in Brandon Williams (#1, 5-11, 175, Sr.), Jonathan Orr (#9, 6-3, 190, Sr.) and Brandon White (#8, 6-3, 190, Sr.). Williams, who is also a dynamite punt and kick returner, has appeared in all 41 games of his career. He’s ranked sixth in school history with 1,911 receiving yards.
If he can pull down 28 catches before the end of the season, he’ll own that record. Williams caught three passes for 60 yards against UNC in 2003. Orr, who had one catch for 14 yards in that game, is 14th all-time in school history with 1,174 receiving yards. Jarvis Minton (#88, 6-1, 202, So.) caught his first career pass last week.
Owen Daniels (#11, 6-3, 247, Sr.) registered career-highs last week for receptions (6), yards receiving (88) and touchdowns (3). His three TD catches ties the mark for second-most in a game in UW football history. Jason Pociask (#84, 6-3, 258, Sr.) is a two-time member of the Big Ten’s All-Academic Team.
Veteran talent mixes with relative youth and experience to open the holes for the Badgers’ rush offense. However, the common denominator is size, as the five starters listed on the two-deep average over 300 pounds. Center Donovan Raiola (#53, 6-3, 294, Sr.) and left tackle Joe Thomas (#72, 6-8, 303, Jr.) are Lombardi Award Candidates, with Raiola also on the Rimington Award Watch List. Thomas was named a preseason All-America by Street and Smith’s. Raiola is the brother of Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola. Left guard Matt Lawrence (#76, 6-5, 288, Sr.), right guard Jason Palermo (#52, 6-3, 307, Sr.) and right tackle Kraig Urbik (#63, 6-6, 317, Fr.) all started the first games of their careers versus Bowling Green.
“The offensive line has been more than adequate, yet in the same respect we know that the defenses we’ve played are not the caliber of the ones that we’re going to play,” Alvarez said.
Joe Monty, Jr. (#95, 6-2, 252, Jr.) and Jamal Cooper (#5, 6-4, 217, So.) are the starters at end, but will also be joined by Kurt Ware (#34, 6-4, 274, So.), who helped lead the Badgers to their first shutout since 1999 against Temple, registering two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
But at least statistically, the defensive line is ordinary, although many of the starters have been getting early showers since the Badgers have dominated the scoreboard in their two outings. Tackles Nick Hayden (#96, 6-5, 302, So.) and Jason Chapman (#91, 6-4, 280, Fr.) combined for three stops and Mike Newkirk (#54, 6-3, 250, Fr.) added five, before they all took the rest of the day off.
Outside linebacker Dontez Sanders (#14, 6-1, 208, Sr.), who earned all-conference honorable mention a year ago, is on both the Bednarik and Butkus Award Watch Lists this season. He forced a fumble last week. SAM LaMarr Watkins (#24, 6-1, 223, Sr.) totaled three tackles, one sack and a QB hurry against the Owls, while MIKE Mark Zalewski (#41, 6-2, 228, Jr.) registered two stops and a tackle for loss.
Matt Baker will try and exploit a Wisconsin secondary led by cornerback Brett Bell (#6, 6-0, 200, Sr.), who leads the Big Ten with five passes defended. On the other hand, corner Allen Langford (#17, 5-11, 187, Fr.) and strong safety Joe Stellmacher (#16, 6-1, 216, Jr.) made their first career starts last Saturday. Free safety Roderick Rogers (#22, 6-2, 181, Jr.) is also a new starter in the defensive backfield. He picked off the first pass of his career against Temple.
Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff (#10, 5-11, 179, So.) booted his first career field goal in the first quarter versus the Owls – a 39-yarder. Punter Ken DeBauche (#94, 6-2, 219, So.) matched his career-high with a 57-yard punt against Bowling Green. Williams was the co-Special Teams Big Ten Player of the Week after returning four punts for 105 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown, and one kickoff for 38 yards in the win over Temple.
“Brandon Williams wants the ball in his hands and has been a playmaker for us ever since we’ve had him,” Alvarez said.