Following a victory Saturday for the Wisconsin football team against Iowa, head coach Gary Andersen is looking forward to an up-tempo game against Brigham Young University.
The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-9 on the road in what was billed as a classic defensive Big Ten battle. Although they struggled to score in the first half Saturday against a defensive-minded Iowa squad, UW put up 21 points in the second half. Senior running back James White played a big part in breaking the game open with 151 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
“James White, I believe, had a very impressive game. Everybody wants to look at yards per carry and everything that was there, but it was tough sledding against a very good defense, and he kept pounding away the whole football game and was very, very consistent and broke the runs at the end of the game to seal the deal for us,” Andersen said. “In my mind, he’s for sure the offensive player of the game for his toughness and his want-to and being able to make the plays when they came late in that game.”
Andersen and his team hopes this toughness and persistence will continue as a common theme for the Badgers who will face nonconference opponent Brigham Young this Saturday. The Cougars (6-2) will head to Wisconsin riding a five-game win streak against the likes of Houston, Georgia Tech and Boise State. BYU also beat a No. 15 ranked Texas Longhorns team by 19 earlier in September.
While the Badgers will be looking to continue their success, Andersen knows his team will be facing a tough opponent looking to play spoiler to the home team.
“We’re playing a very good team in BYU. They’re on a roll. They’ve gotten progressively better. They’ve beaten very good teams this year, and it’s an opponent that a lot of people on this staff know fairly well,” Andersen said. “It’s typical BYU. They’ll take their best players and put them in position to make plays. That’s absolutely no surprise.”
If the Badgers wish to continue their winning ways and keep the hope alive of sneaking into a BCS bowl game, they will need to be ready for a different style coming their way. While UW is No. 10 in rushing yards per game and No. 87 in passing yards per game, the BYU offense takes a similar shape.
The Cougars are currently ranked No. 14 in rushing yards per game and No. 50 in passing yards.
“The one thing I will say about BYU is they will mix up the pace, so it’s not always pedal-to-the-metal every snap. It’s on and off, back and forth a little bit. So we’ve got to practice that, we’ve got to be conscious of it,” Andersen said. “The key is to not get worn out. You watch the teams they play, they get physically tired and BYU does a lot of great plays. And there are a lot of missed tackles in the BYU games, especially late in drives.”
Looking at the matchup against BYU, Andersen and the Badgers know the importance of capitalizing on their success and experience in Big Ten play when playing high-profile nonconference opponents.
Looking back on his first year as a head coach in the Big Ten, Andersen has no doubt he is playing in the nation’s best conference.
“I’ll say this. I haven’t gone all through a full cycle, I’ve done this for a few years and I don’t look at myself as a guru of conferences or teams or anything else, but this is one of the best, if not the best, conference in the country. People are going to say that, and a lot of people might stick their nose up in the air when I say that or whatever, but to me it is,” Andersen said. “You can’t say until you’ve been in it. You don’t know what it’s like to walk out there and play against that Iowa defense with a good offensive line. You don’t know what it’s like to walk into Ohio State’s stadium and play. People don’t know what it’s like to come to Camp Randall and play.”