2010 Record: (11-2, 7-1 in Big 10)
Head Coach: Bret Bielema (49-16 at Wisconsin, 27-13 in Big 10)
Last Bowl Game: 2010/2011 Rose Bowl (lost to TCU 21-19)
Final 2010/2011 AP Ranking: #7
Final 2010/2011 CFBZ Ranking: #6
9/1: UNLV (2010 result: won 41-21)
9/10: Oregon State
9/17: Northern Illinois (2009 result: won 28-20)
9/24: South Dakota
10/15: Indiana (2010 result: won 83-20)
10/22: at Michigan State (2010 result: lost 34-24)
10/29: at Ohio State (2010 result: 31-18)
11/5: Purdue (2010 result: won 34-13)
11/12: at Minnesota (2010 result: won 41-23)
11/19: at Illinois
11/26: Penn State
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 41.5 ppg (1st in Big Ten, 5th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 245.69 yds/game (2nd in Big Ten, 12th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 199.5 yds/game (9th in Big Ten, 75th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 445.2 yds/game (3rd in Big Ten, 21st in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 20.5 ppg (3rd in Big Ten, 25th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 127.85 yds/game (3rd in Big Ten, 26th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 193.9 yds/game (3rd in Big Ten, 26th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 321.8 yds/game (2nd in Big Ten, 20th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +1.08 per game (2nd in Big Ten, 6th in Nation)
Penalties: 30.7 yds/game (1st in Big Ten, 2nd in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Russell Wilson, Sr (308 of 526 for 3564 yds, 28 TD, 14 INT)*
Rushing: RB James White, Soph (156 for 1052 yds, 6.7 ypc, 14 TD)
Receiving: WR Nick Toon, Sr (36 rec for 459 yds, 3 TD)
Tackles: S Aaron Henry, Sr; LB Mike Taylor, Jr (57)
Sacks: DE Louis Nzegwu, Sr (3)
Interceptions: CB Antonio Fenelus, Sr (4)
*played with NC State in 2010
Athlon Sports: Insight (vs Baylor)
Wisconsin came on strong last year after they fell to Michigan State. They won back to back games against ranked opponents, one of which just happened to be ranked #1 in the country at the time. Then they rolled up a ridiculous 83 points against Indiana, put 48 up on Rich Rod in the Big House and put Northwestern out of it's misery 70-23 in route to finishing the regular season 11-1. Head Coach Bret Bielema has won double digit games in three of his five seasons and is looking to win double digits for the third straight year.
Wisconsin loses a bunch of talent (QB Scott Tolzien, TE Lance Kendricks, OT Gabe Carimi and DE JJ Watt to name a few) but they also gained a talent in transfer Russell Wilson from NC State. Badgers fans are pretty happy right now that Wilson turned out to be a light hitter for the Asheville Tourists as he's turned his affections back to football. Russell Wilson has been with the team less than a month but has made such an impression that he has been named co-captain. Wilson could bring an additional dimension to the Badgers offense as he's much more mobile than any Wisconsin QB of recent memory. The one thing he doesn't have is experience in the Wisconsin system but like our friend Michael Felder said- in what area (besides experience in this offense) is Scott Tolzien better than Russell Wilson? And that's not a knock on Tolzien as he was a very effective QB as much as it is a compliment to Wilson. He has the tools to be a difference maker and in an offense that is stocked and loaded at RB that could mean big success for the Wisconsin offense this year. To get an inside take on the 2011 version of the Wisconsin Badgers we caught up with Troy Pieper of The Badger Sports Beat.
Let's start off with NC State transfer Russell Wilson. What are your expectations for him this year?
I had the pleasure to talk to him during Badger Media Day at Camp Randal and he's the real deal, even better person then football player. I knew he had to be a pretty straight laced guy when you can graduate college in 3 years and play two sports at such a high level, not many people can do that, but when you talk to him he doesn't want anything handed to him because of his past success, now with all that my expectations are getting higher and higher every time I watch him in practice, his accuracy is amazing, his legs are something UW has never seen before, and he does it all look so smooth, looks just natural, I'll say even with only one year here, he could be a "program changer" and what I mean by that is he could show other big time recruits that you can have great success at UW, and UW could go from every year top 15 - 20 team and now enter that real big time program range of top 5 - 10 every year.... he's that good! (ps side note for you if you didn't know he's the first black QB in UW history)
J.J. Watt was drafted with the 11th pick in the NFL draft. Who needs to step up this year to replace his production?
"Chris Boreland is a very angry person right now" that was a quote from Bielema after the 3rd practice, and the reason he's angry is his season got cut short after an injury to his shoulder in the ASU game, he was the Freshman of the year in the Big Ten two years ago and got hurt last year, he's not a DL like Watt, but he'll be the emotional leader like Watt was last year, if people forgot about how good Boreland is, it won't take long for them to say "oh shoot they still have him", he's got a motor that doesn't stop and seems to always be around the ball.
Wisconsin had three players chosen in the NFL draft this year from their offensive line. How big of a concern is this area of the offense for the Badgers?
None, the one thing the Badgers always have is a great OL, great RB's, and great TE's, they have some NFL type guys in Peter Konz (6'5 315) honorable mention All-Big Ten last year, Kevin Zeitler (6'4 315) honorable Mention All-Big Ten last year, and the other is Josh Oglesby (6'7 330) he missed 6 games last year due to injury, but was on the pre season Outland Watch List last year, they also have Ryan Groy who made two starts a year ago another big 330 pounder, also Ricky Wagner who started 10 games a year ago he's 6'6 320, and there are about 3 or 4 other 320+ pound guys all in the mix as well, like I said UW gets the big hogs like none other.
Who are the three players on Wisconsin's schedule that you are least looking forward to playing?
All three are on the same team, Edwin Baker, Kirk Cousins, and Le' Vone Bell. I feel even though MSU is getting some hype, they aren't getting enough. I think they are the real deal, and I expect them to be the only potential loss on the Badgers schedule, UW has back to back weeks where at the end of October where they go on the road to OSU and MSU, I think MSU is the 2nd best team in the league behind UW, and that game is the scariest to me, mainly because of those three players, those guys had their way last year against UW.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
Okay like I said I think the main game that makes me worry the most is MSU, and you know the reason from the above answer, but a couple others that will make or break the season - October 1st vs Nebraska, it's going to be extremely overhyped because it's NEB first big ten game, but it will be a game that will showcase two teams ranked in the top 10, so it's going to be a huge game, but Wisconsin doesn't lose at home and especially at night, so it's a big game, but not a huge worry. Also the game at Ohio State, they have to have UW circled on their schedule, especially seeing that UW could easily be a top 5 team when they come into Columbos this year, so there will be some emotion from the Buckeyes that could cause some problems for the Badgers. The last which some might think I'm crazy but it's not PSU, it's actually at Illinois, yeah the Fighting Ilini, the biggest reason is it's on the road and it's the last road game, if UW has run the table to that point, they will have a home game and the Big Ten title game left for a trip to the Big Game, it's got Let Down written all over it.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
My gut feeling is Wisconsin will go 11 - 1 with their only loss at Michigan State. This team is that good, actually this team is good enough to go 12 - 0. That sounds crazy to say, but with Russell and the backfield of Ball and White, this team will be very good. Also I think their defense will actually be better this year then last. I also feel they will revenge their loss to MSU in the Big Ten Title game, and become the first Big Ten Championship Game winners. So in the end 12 - 1 and a 2nd straight trip to the Rose Bowl. To make the season successful the Badgers have to at least make the Rose Bowl, the National Title isn't out of reach, this team is that good and the expectations are legit.
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