LOGAN — It's been a picture-perfect start for the Utah State football team in 2012. They are fresh off snapping a 12-game losing streak to in-state rival Utah, are 2-0 for the first time since 1997, and are receiving votes in the AP poll for the first time since 1966.
The only way things could get better for the Aggies is to start 3-0 for the first time since 1978 and bring home their second-straight victory over a BCS opponent when they travel to Madison to face Wisconsin (1-1) Saturday.
While the Badgers were the Big 10 representative to the Rose Bowl last season, the early results in 2012 have not been as positive. In their opener the Badgers edged FCS school Northern Iowa 26-21, then were upset on the road by Oregon State last week, 10-7. Following the loss the Badgers fired offensive line coach Mike Markuson.
Even amid the turmoil and rough start, the Badgers, playing in front of more than 80,000 fans at Camp Randall Stadium, pose a formidable test for the Aggies. Wisconsin has won 17 consecutive games at home by an average of 33.5 points. Under head coach Bret Bielema the Badgers are 40-3 at home, with the only three losses coming to teams that advanced to a BCS bowl that season.
"They're going to be a little bit ornery I am sure," Aggies coach Gary Andersen said. "They are going to be excited to get back home."
For the Aggie defense it will be the second consecutive week of game planning for one of the nation's best running backs. Last week it was Utah's John White and this week it is Heisman Trophy hopeful Montee Ball.
"We are going to take the same mentality that we took into the Utah game," said linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu. "They have a great back just like John White, Montee Ball. He is probably one of the best backs in the nation. If we can take out him like we did John White, then the game can go our way."
While the defense will be focusing on stopping the run, the offense will need to find a way to establish it. Wisconsin is 14th in the nation against the run, allowing just 59.5 yards a game on the ground. Last week against Oregon State the Badgers allowed just 2.6 yards per carry.
Winning on the road against a BCS school is no easy task, but the Aggies have repeatedly come close under Andersen. In 2009 the Aggies lost by eight at Texas A&M, in 2010 the margin of victory was just seven at No. 7 Oklahoma, and last season defending champion Auburn needed a comeback to pull off a four-point victory.
To break through and pull off the upset on the road USU will need to play much cleaner. Utah State is second to last in the nation in penalties against them and penalty yards accrued, while Wisconsin has had just five whistles against them in two games.
"We expect to find a way to get the game into the fourth quarter and make it be competitive and they expect to find a way to win," Andersen said. "... We're to a point where we have those expectations regardless of who we play."
Aggies on the air
Utah State (2-0)
at No. 22 Wisconsin (1-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m. (MDT)
Camp Randall Stadium (82,500)
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Utah State Sports Network
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