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Hawaii football: An early look at Wisconsin

Does Hawaii have a chance against Wisconsin? Probably not.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In week 4 Hawaii will fly on over to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on the Wisconsin Badgers.  The ‘Bows and the Badgers have met six times before with Wisconsin holding a 5-1 series edge with an average score of 38-14.  The last meeting, a 51-10 ass-whoopin’ at Aloha Stadium, ended the Warriors’ bid to go bowling in ‘09.  Just as before, this one looks to be a blowout by the Badgers.

On offense Wisconsin returns senior quarterback Joel Stave who passed for 2,494 yards with 22 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2013. Stave would go on to lose the starting job early on in 2014 to Tanner McEvoy when he showed up to camp and inexplicably lost the ability to throw.  Stave would serve as the backup for the first five games of the season before being handed the reins again in October and would go on to finish with 1,350 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Despite his mediocre final line he was solid over his seven regular season starts, throwing for 928 yards with 7 touchdowns and just one interception before getting absolutely stifled by Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.  With Tanner McEvoy being converted to safety, Stave seems to be the unquestioned starter heading into 2015.

As for the rest of the offense:

  • At running back the Badgers return junior Corey Clement. Clement rushed for 949 yards on 147 attempts and 9 touchdowns while backing up Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon.  The Badgers also feature a trio of highly touted freshmen in Taiwan Deal, Bradrick Shaw, and Jordan Stevenson.
  • At receiver Alex Erickson returns for his senior season after catching 55 passes for 772 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He is joined by fellow senior Jordan Fredrick who put up 126 yards on 13 catches in 2014.
  • At tight end sophomore Troy Fumagalli should take on the starting role after catching 14 passes for 187 yards in his freshman campaign.
  • On the offensive line Wisconsin returns only two starters from 2014; center Dan Voltz and left tackle Tyler Marz.

On defense the Badgers return seven of their starters from a unit that ranked fourth in total defense a year ago.  Last year the Badgers also ranked 4th in passing defense, 23rd in rushing defense, 17th scoring defense, and 3rd in third down percentage.

The rest of the defense:

  • At defensive end Wisconsin returns Chikwe Obasih and former starting noseguard, now defensive end, Arthur Goldberg.
  • Both starting outside linebackers return in Joe Schobert (69 tackles 13.5 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forcedfumbles, one fumble recovery, 7 pass breakups) and Vince Biegel (56 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 7.5 sacks)
  • The secondary returns cornerbacks Sojourn Shelton (33 tackles, 1 for loss, 6 pass breakups) and  Second team All-Big Ten selection Darius Hillary (41 tackles, 3 for loss, 5 pass breakups) as well as Second team All-Big Ten safety Michael Caputo (106 tackles, 6 for loss, 1 sack, 6 pass breakups, 1 interception)

Wisconsin, again, looks like a team to be reckoned with in the Big Ten.  In their preseason power rankings for the Big Ten ESPN placed Wisconsin third in the conference and hailed them as the "West Division favorite."  So does Hawaii really stand a chance in this contest? Maybe if Joel Stave suddenly forgets how to throw a football again.  But even then probably not.

Prediction:

Wisconsin: A lot

Hawaii: A Little