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September 9, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's season is about to heat up- both figuratively and literally. After walloping UMass and Tennessee Tech to open the season, Gary Andersen and the No. 20 Badgers have to step up their game this week when they travel to Tempe, Az., for a game against Arizona State.
"We're playing a very good team this week," Andersen said Monday during his weekly press conference. "I feel like the last few games of last season is what we'll be scouting. They're good offensively and really cause you some problems. It's a wide-open offense. It's a nicely schemed-up offense."
Arizona State opened their season with a 55-0 win over FCS Sacramento State, where quarterback Taylor Kelly threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns. Running backs Marion Grice and Deantre Lewis combined to rush for 112 yards on 22 carries as well. But Andersen said he's concerned himself so far with Arizona State's defense, which features eight seniors in the starting rotation.
"They're a very solid, salty defense," Andersen said. "The front seven has some players who will make a whole bunch of money playing this game throughout their careers."
One of those players is defensive tackle Will Sutton, who elected to stay at Arizona State for his senior season, even though he was expected to be one of the top defensive linemen available in last year's draft. Sutton already forced a fumble and combined for a tackle for loss against Sacramento State, after tied South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney for second in the nation with 23.5 tackles for loss last year.
"He's very sudden," Andersen said of Sutton on Monday. "If I'm going to recruit a defensive lineman, I want to see a great bender, I want to see good and natural use of hands and I want to see sudden. He fits all three of those very well."
And in addition to a high-flying offense and a experience-laden defense, Andersen and the Badgers will have to contend with much different weather than they're used to. Saturday's high in Tempe is supposed to be around 100 degrees, but a 7 p.m. kickoff should see that taper down a little bit. Even still, Andersen said he wouldn't attribute much of his team's performance this week to the weather, no matter the result of the game.
"What does matter is that we're playing a really good Arizona State football team and we believe we have a chance to be a good football team," Andersen said. "The adversity that comes our because of any of those situations that I mentioned before will be a non-factor if we win or lose the game. We'll be prepared."
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