Buy or Sell Week 3 Storylines

Madison — The Badgers will look to right the ship back in the confines of Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday against the Georgia Southern Eagles.

As kickoff draws nearer, football beat writers Seamus Rohrer and Donnie Slusher will decide if they’re “buying” or “selling” on various storylines surrounding the Wisconsin football program.


Buy or Sell Week 3 Storylines
Georgia Southern is Wisconsin’s final out-of-conference game. (Dan Sanger/


Yes, Wisconsin is a heavy favorite on Saturday with the betting line currently at -20 in favor of the Badgers. Yes, this is Wisconsin’s last buy game of the season and Big Ten play lurks around the corner starting with Purdue. But it’s hard for me to see the Badgers looking ahead this early in the season.

Wisconsin’s loss to Washington State exposed some problems that need to get fixed. Turnovers on both sides of the ball and offensive balance are items that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. The Badgers know this, and so they should’t walk into Camp Randall on Saturday asleep at the wheel.

Even as double-digit favorites, it would be incredibly irresponsible for Wisconsin to be looking ahead to their Big Ten opener. They have doubters to silence, and they need to take care of business Saturday. I expect them to be locked in.


Last week was one of the most difficult and uncomfortable road trips in recent Badgers history. They traveled across the country to play a high-tempo offense led by a dual-threat quarterback, all within a program that’s fighting for its life amidst the realignment chaos. Not to mention that Wisconsin couldn’t run if its life depended on it, despite that being the team’s biggest strength.

This week, they’re playing Georgia Southern. Wisconsin can’t disrespect them, but this is no Washington State. They’re not even Buffalo.

Ultimately, Wisconsin’s rough performance last week can’t be written off, but it doesn’t define them. It won’t play in those unique conditions again this season, and won’t play a team as good as Washington State for another few weeks.

This is the Badgers’ opportunity to show how good they can be, without any irregular factors.



Yeah, so Georgia Southern’s defense is…not great. Sure, they pitched a shutout in Week 1…against FCS program The Citadel. They then proceeded to allow UAB to score 35 points in a shootout. They’re headlined by middle linebacker Marques Watson-Trent, a Second-Team All-Sun Belt selection last season who has a knack for the football. Still, Wisconsin’s offense should have no problem this unit.

I expect the Badgers to get out to a big lead and run the ball through most of the second half. Still, to get to that lead, it would be encouraging to see them build off of last week’s second half and continue to make big plays in the passing game. If there’s any defense Wisconsin can be multi-faceted against, it should be Georgia Southern.


To be clear, I believe that the Badgers could probably put up 50 points this weekend if they wanted to. Except I don’t think they play that way.

If there’s one thing I do feel confident in, it’s that the running backs will bounce back after last week’s dud. They put up 91 rushing yards just a week after a 314-yard performance. We learned against Buffalo that when Wisconsin builds a sizable lead by running the ball, they will probably continue running the ball. Against a team like Georgia Southern, I do expect the Badgers to take an early lead. Tanner Mordecai shouldn’t have to be anything more than a game manager. He also has four turnovers in his first two games, so that’s easier said than done.

They may ultimately look like a complete unit, but they won’t need to use their full-strength offense until a competitive game compels it out of them.


SEAMUS: Sell…for now

Luke Fickell’s comments this week when asked about Kamo’i Latu were very interesting. He didn’t totally admonish the safety, but he wouldn’t go as far to say his job is safe.

“I think emotions got a little the best of him, and maybe the tempo. After (the 18 snaps he played), we made a bit of an adjustment and switched up in some situations,” Fickell said. “He can’t hang his head; we need him. We’re gonna have to find ways to to continue to use him.”

“Find ways to use him” doesn’t necessarily sound like he’s talking about a starter. His comments got even more interesting:

“The realities are, each and every week you’ve got to perform. And I don’t just mean on Saturday…If we’ve created a competition in all these rooms, then Tuesday, Wednesday is still part of an evaluation period.”

Latu is still listed as a starter on the depth chart. This week figures to be huge for him. I do expect him to trot out with the defensive starters and for the staff to give him another chance. Still, if he struggles for the third week in a row, how can the staff trust him come conference play? His leash should be very short at this point, and if I could I’d lease this answer with an option to buy.


In the season opener against Buffalo, Latu played 59 snaps while backup safeties Travion Blaylock and Preston Zachman logged 29 and 1, respectively, according to Pro Football Focus. But Latu was bad. It was one of the most frustrating performances I’ve seen in years. He finished with four total tackles but missed five. He was punished for it last week when he played only 17 snaps while Blaylock and Zachman finished with 58 and 51, respectively. The writing is definitely on the wall.

I believe Saturday is Latu’s last chance as a starter. He may even be benched during the game if he starts slow. If he performs, maybe he can keep his job. If not, Hunter Wohler might have to get used to a new running mate.



Turnovers have been the early storyline for the Badgers, and not in a good way. They fumbled the football three times on the road last week, and Tanner Mordecai threw two picks in Week 1. Meanwhile, their defense hasn’t managed to produce a turnover through two games.

Turnovers often come in bunches, and Fickell talked this week about the need to actively seek them out defensively rather than waiting for them to fall into your lap. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Badgers give the ball away to the Eagles, but I have to imagine the defense will finally get on the board at least once in the turnover department Saturday. Georgia Southern is a pass-happy team, and Wisconsin’s defensive backs are itching to get the ball in their hands. The Badgers turnover differential is currently at -5. It’s been easy to track through two weeks due to the lack of defensive production. I’d expect it to be somewhere around -3 when all is said and done Saturday.


Wisconsin’s two biggest problems might both be relating to turnovers. A pair of interceptions from Mordecai against Buffalo stunted Wisconsin’s momentum, but it didn’t have a major effect on the game and could be shrugged off. Then, turnovers became the reason they lost against Washington State. Luckily for the Badger offense, and specifically Jack Nelson, Georgia Southern doesn’t have any all-conference defensive ends to wreak havoc the way Washington State did.

On the other side, perhaps the most surprising and embarrassing detail of the season is how Wisconsin has yet to get a turnover on defense. 74 passes have been thrown by opposing quarterbacks in the first two games and not one has ended up in the hands of a Badger. I didn’t believe the Wisconsin defense could get a turnover against Washington State because they hadn’t shown any big-play capabilities. They still haven’t.

By that logic, I shouldn’t expect them to make any major impact this week. However, they’re facing fifth-year senior Davis Brin, who threw 16 interceptions to only 18 touchdowns in his only full season starting. This is no Cameron Ward.

If they can’t get an interception against Brin, then why would we expect them to in any game this season? Basically — if not now, when?


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