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MADISON, Wis. - The No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers will take on BYU in their first road test of the season on Saturday afternoon, with the game scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. CST. The game is scheduled to air on ABC, and BadgerBlitz.com's three things to watch for in the game are included below.
First Read: How healthy is Wisconsin's offensive line?
Right off the bat the Badgers down a projected starter in Jon Dietzen, who was ruled out for the game on Thursday with a leg injury. The big question is if fellow offensive guard Beau Benzschawel is able to play - the Badgers listed him as questionable in their pre-game injury report, but Paul Chryst said that Benzschawel was able to get work in all week, so it seems like he has a reasonable chance of playing. If Benzschawel can't go then the Badgers will need to go to their backup plan, which is probably playing Jason Erdmann at guard opposite Micah Kapoi. If that doesn't work? The Badgers could always move Michael Deiter back inside to shore that position up, but it would involve a lot of secondary moves. Only time will tell what the Badgers decide to do, but whatever option they pick will have a big test this weekend against a strong BYU front seven.
Second Read: Can the offense clean up little mistakes that have held them back?
Most of the chatter coming from the team this week centered around little mistakes that have forced the Badgers to leave big plays and points on the field. Whether it was not converting on third downs or dropping passes downfield, or not converting on fourth and goal, the offense felt like they were close to putting it all together. Keep an eye on who quarterback Alex Hornibrook looks for on third downs in particular against the Cougars. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said that the offense needs to pick each other up when a play isn't perfect, and they'll need to do that on Saturday if they want to leave Provo with a win.
Third Read: If the offense can't do that, can the defense get stops when put in bad field position?
Wisconsin's defense has started the season strong, having only allowed three touchdowns through two games this year. Two of those touchdowns came after the offense turned the ball over and put the defense in a bad spot - it's hard to blame them for allowing a score with just 30 yards to work with, but defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said his unit needs to be the one to stop the bleeding when the situation changes suddenly. The offense will do their best to not turn the ball over this weekend - but if it happens look and see if the UW defense can get a stop, or if they're really backed up try to hold BYU's offense to a field goal.
BADGERBLITZ.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS
John Veldhuis: Wisconsin 24, BYU 10
(2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread)
I might be shorting Wisconsin's offense here, particularly if their offensive line remains relatively intact and the Cougars do end up starting their backup quarterback. But any win on the road is a good win, and if the Badgers can win by more than a touchdown then I think they should be pretty satisfied.
Jonathan Mills: BYU 26, Wisconsin 20
Despite BYU starting quarterback Tanner Magnum falling to injury, I believe Wisconsin struggles out of the gate away from Camp Randall. The Badgers offense comes close at the end but cannot pull away with a Week 3 victory.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin Badgers for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.