UW Health Sports Medicine 

Getting back to 'Wisconsin Football'

Heading into 2009, head coach Bret Bielema and a number of Badger players talked about the importance of getting back to playing "Wisconsin football." When they said that, most UW fans knew exactly what they meant.

A couple adjectives probably best describe what "Wisconsin football" means. Tough, smart, dependable, cohesive. The best UW teams controlled the clock on offense with strong running games and effective passing games and took advantage of the opportunities. On defense, they limited the big plays, were tough against the run and forced turnovers.

Looking at the stats from 2009, you can safely say, "mission accomplished."

Offensively, the Badgers led the country in time of possession behind a rushing attack that led the Big Ten and ranked 15th in the country. Their quarterback, Scott Tolzien, ranked just sixth in the conference in passing yards per game but was tops in the league in passing efficiency. The Badgers tied for third in the country in red zone efficiency, scoring points on 94.6 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, including a school-record 75.0 percent touchdown rate.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Badgers' run defense was magnificent. Over the last 10 games, no team rushed for more than 100 yards against UW. Its rushing defense (88.2 ypg.) ranked fifth in the country and its eight rushing TDs allowed was the third-fewest in school history. Statistically, UW ranked among the top 20 in the country in total defense, sacks and tackles for loss. The Badgers forced 27 turnovers, their highest total since 2005.

For the first time since 2005, the Badgers had a positive turnover ratio. They tied for second in the Big Ten in fewest penalties in conference games and cut their pre-snap penalties from 32 in 2008 to 20 in 2009. And they were much improved in both third-down conversions (38.2% to 47.5%) and third-down conversion defense (39.9% to 35.3%).

All of that translated into a 10-win season in 2009, the Wisconsin way.