Ron Dayne is soft spoken, but there was no mistaking the sound of him licking his chops watching UCLA flail at Miami runners. Dayne averaged 127.9 yards during the regular season. But the passing game finished last among the 11 teams in the Big Ten Conference. Aaron Gibson is the Badgers' answer to Kris Farris, a very big (6 foot 7, 370 pounds) and talented tackle.
The Badgers are one of the best in the nation. End Tom Burke led the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for losses, setting school records in both, and is also the emotional leader of the unit. Cornerback Jamar Fletcher, a freshman, is among the NCAA leaders in interceptions.
The Bruins have scored 41, 36, 34 and 45 points the last four games, pushing the season average to 40.5. Freshman DeShaun Foster has taken the leading role at tailback even while officially being listed third on the depth chart. Cade McNown closes his career hoping for a performance that comes anywhere near his great showing against Miami.
A questionable unit even on good days, the doubts extend beyond any previous levels after Miami totaled 689 yards in offense, Edgerrin James rushed for 299 and two Bruin starters were lost because of injury. One of them, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, is a star, but he will likely miss the bulk of preparation for Wisconsin because of a sprained knee ligament. He could also miss the game itself. More will be known about the status of nose guard Micah Webb, who suffered the same injury, in the days ahead.
It's a great challenge for the Bruins on both sides of the ball, one of the few times all season they've been able to say that. Wisconsin has a formidable defense against the pass and the run. And Wisconsin can run the ball. In this case, the Badgers can run it right at a UCLA weakness.