BYU arrives in cold, overcast Madison hoping to spring an upset
Greetings from Madison, Wis., where the Cougars will test the No. 21 Badgers tomorrow at historic Camp Randall Stadium (1:30 p.m. MST, ESPN).
I arrived here at the capitol of Wisconsin in the early afternoon, and quickly drove over the stadium to check the place out. It has an older feel to it, at least from the outside where concrete slabs stretch to the sky.
Saw several BYU fans milling around the area, taking pictures under the historic arch that stands as the main entrance to the stadium. Dozens more blue-clad fans were on my flights from Salt Lake City, routed through Detroit.<
It was a cloudy, gloomy and mildly cold day in Madison, with temperatures in the low 40s. It is supposed to be a bit warmer on Saturday — temps could reach the high 40s — but there's a chance of rain.
Several publications and national writers or broadcasters have called Madison the best college town in America, so I am eager to check it out on game day. The few Wisconsin fans I spoke to about the game have professed to knowing very little about BYU.
They feel good about the Badgers' prospects, though, with most noting that coach Gary Andersen has plenty of knowledge about BYU and should have his team ready for whatever the Cougars bring.
I've written several articles this week about what the game will come down to. I believe it is going to be about line play, and whether the Cougars can stand up defensively to UW's punishing ground attack and whether BYU's young, but growing offensive line and running backs can protect Taysom Hill long enough for the sophomore to do his thing.
But I also think Andersen is going to test BYU's secondary. It appears that ace UW receiver Jared Abbrederis (sore ribs) will play after leaving last week's win over Iowa in the third quarter. The Badgers will throw to the former walk-on a lot, and they've also got a great tight end.
For the Cougars to win, they also have to get a phenomenal game out of Hill — kind of like the Houston game, but without the turnovers.
Hill's big turnaround was the topic of this story published earlier this week in the Tribune.
How is he handling the reversal of fortune, and all the accolades that have come with it?
"Look, I realize that I couldn't do what I do without the guys around me, so that credit, a lot of it goes to our offensive line, and the guys on the outside, fighting to get open and making plays on the ball," he said. "I realize that, and I recognize that, so with that being said. It is an honor, it is a privilege and it is nice to be recognized for all those things but I realize that I can't do it on my own."
A few more leftovers from and about Hill: