September 10, 2011
Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0.
In his first game as Wisconsin's quarterback, Russell Wilson was 10 of 13 passing for 255 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-17 obliteration of UNLV, good for the second-best pass efficiency rating of any QB in the nation over opening weekend. He also broke a 46-yard run for another score, all of which was quickly dismissed because, come on, we're talking about UNLV here. Today, in his second start, Wilson hit 17 of 20 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns — all in the first half — in a 35-0 cakewalk over Oregon State. Which we're also obliged to filed under "skepticism" because Oregon State just lost to Sacramento State last week and may very well belong among the worst teams in the country.
So here's Russell Wilson, after two essentially uncontested wins — one of them coming over a nominally respectable outfit from the Pac-12 — sitting on a pass efficiency rating of 244.8 with approximately zero identifiable mistakes. That's nearly 60 points higher than the all-time single-season record. According to the NFL's rating formula, it's perfect. It's roughly the kind of numbers you expect to put up against air.
And maybe UNLV and Oregon State aren't much better, especially when you factor in their preoccupation with the Badgers' road-grading ground game, still the bread-and-butter that defines the big red 'W' on the side of the helmet. But Wilson wasn't brought in over the summer to rewrite the blueprints; he was brought in to be what the far less-celebrated Scott Tolzien was during last year's Rose Bowl run, when Wisconsin led the Big Ten in scoring: A steady, efficient veteran who has a complete grasp of the offense and doesn't make mistakes. So far, as effortless as Wilson's performances have looked after barely two months on campus, that much looks a given. The fact that he's also able to get the ball downfield and has a knack for extending and creating plays with his legs that Tolzien did not is beginning to look kind of terrifying.
Just be careful not to admit that to anyone until the Badgers have seen a real defense, which won't be for … oh, another three weeks or so, when Nebraska comes to Madison on Oct. 1 for its first ever Big Ten game. Until then, try not let the numbers of the ease of it get you carried away.