The Wisconsin Badgers and Florida Atlantic Owls had two very different starts to their respective seasons last weekend. After a slow start in the first half, Paul Chryst's Badgers ripped off seven unanswered touchdowns to take down Utah State 59-10. Lane Kiffin's Owl's did not fare as well, as they ended up on the losing end of a 42-19 methodical beatdown at the hands of Navy.
On Saturday, Wisconsin will try to continue its winning ways at home, while FAU will look to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
FAU at Wisconsin
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 9 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Wisconsin -32
Three Things to Watch
1. A faster start by the Badgers
Wisconsin was only able to muster 10 points in the first half last weekend against an inferior Utah State team. The Badgers must figure out a way to get their offense rolling earlier, as games with high-powered offenses like BYU and Nebraska are on the horizon. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook will be key to ensuring that happens. Look for him to force the issue through the air earlier against FAU.
2. Can FAU improve against the run?
This is probably not the week to look for improvement in stopping the run, as Wisconsin moves the ball on the ground as good as any team in the country. Be that as it may, FAU head coach Lane Kiffin will at least be looking for his defense to pass the eye test in terms of assignments and effort. Navy racked up more than 400 yards on the ground against the Owls, averaging 6.1 yards per carry on a whopping 68 attempts. There is no way FAU can be competitive if its run defense is that porous all year.
3. Wisconsin running back Bradrick Shaw's health
Shaw was the Badgers’ workhorse against Utah State, leading the team with 18 carries. You got the sense that head coach Paul Chryst would like Shaw to be the guy all season, but he did get a bit dinged up against the Aggies. Jonathan Taylor is another capable back, and his stats against Utah State (9 att., 87 yds., TD) reflect that. That said, Shaw is the better overall back, and Wisconsin needs him healthy as it approaches the meat of its schedule. Keep an eye on whether or not Shaw sees the field on Saturday. If he does, he's probably fine. If not, it's likely that Chryst has concerns about Shaw's health and durability.
This game simply won't be close in the end, but it does have a chance to be a little tight early on. Florida Atlantic has athletes who match up well with Wisconsin individually at various spots on the field. It shouldn’t take an entire half of football for the Badgers to crack the code as it did a week ago, but it may take the better part of a quarter for Alex Hornibrook and the Wisconsin offense to find their groove. Look for Wisconsin to jump out big on the shoulders of the passing game and ride out the run in the second half to preserve a sound win.
Prediction: Wisconsin 43, FAU 6
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.