Saturday vs. Illinois State | 6 p.m. | Camp Randall Stadium | FS1
Overview: The FCS program hopes to improve upon its 4-7 campaign in 2021, where its offense averaged 18.4 points and 252.4 total yards per contest. Its defense held opponents to 351.3 yards per game and intercepted 12 passes. Coach Brock Spack looks to spark the offense in his hire of former Illinois assistant Tony Petersen as the Redbirds’ offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
Coach: Spack, the program’s all-time winningest coach, returns for the 2022 season. He took over at Illinois State beginning with the 2009 season and holds an 89-60 record with the team. He has led the Redbirds to nine better-than-.500 seasons in his time in Normal, Illinois. He was a longtime defensive coordinator at Purdue (1997-2008) and held the same position at Wyoming from 1995-96 before his time with Illinois State.
Players to watch: The Redbirds will feature some Big Ten flavor in the backfield with former Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad. He started the first seven games for the Gophers as a true freshman walk-on in 2018, completing 51.9% of his passes for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns to seven interceptions. Offensive lineman Drew Bones is a multi-year starter, and linebacker Zeke Vandenburgh led the team in sacks (four) and tied for first in tackles for loss (8.5) in 2021
Burning question: Can the offense improve under a new coordinator? Petersen’s stint in Champaign lasted one year, when the Fighting Illini offense averaged just 20.2 points (tied for 115th in the FBS) and 329.8 yards (112th) per game. Before his brief stop in the Big Ten, he guided Appalachian State to 33.8 points and 452 yards per contest as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2020. Can the offensive unit, which includes Cole Mueller (977 yards), the program’s leading rusher from 2021, turn the tide.
You do realize that no one else cares about a FCS Championship game played 7+ years ago other than the fans of those teams?Summary of ISU (all opponents on the schedule were previewed, with the same "categories") from today's Badgers season preview in the Madison paper:
I wasn't expecting them to say we were the best team ever, but I thought they'd mention the Frisco trip and playoff record, maybe under the Coach overview. Likewise, they talk about Peterson at Champaign and App State, w/o mentioning many other years of accomplishment. Whatever.
Not sure you'll be able to access, but here's the link.
Well, what Total Red said, but my point wasn't that that trip to Frisco somehow directly affects this week's game, but when you're giving an overview of the coach, you'd say, well he got the team to the champ game and into the playoffs so many times, blah blah blah. Like you might say about Paul Chryst, he got the Badgers to bowl games every year as HC. That's all, it's a marker for the coach, seems to me, just like his W-L record.You do realize that no one else cares about a FCS Championship game played 7+ years ago other than the fans of those teams?