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'Varsity' Magazine: Capital One Bowl preview

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What are the keys to the Badgers coming out on top vs. South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl? Who will make the difference on offense and defense? What's the Badgers' mindset, especially the seniors, heading into another showcase game on Jan. 1?

All those questions and more are answered in this week's edition of 'Varsity' Magazine.

Find out who said, "I like the matchup. We're a physical team; heavy in the run game and play-action. They're physical up front with great talent and speed."

College football world reacts to Gordon's announcement

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Two things I've learned during the Badgers' NCAA tournament run

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1. I am not the jinx.

I started calling Wisconsin volleyball on the radio in 2008. I didn't know anything about the program other than they won a lot and got to the tournament all the time. 

That changed once I entered the picture. "You're a jinx," I would hear from co-workers after the first year. The talk increased in year two. By year three and beyond friends would ask "What has changed other than you started calling matches?"
 
For a while there, I think I even started to believe some of the talk. That was until this year when the team made the postseason for the first time since 2007. What a relief off my shoulders right? Now I know what Red Sox fans must have felt like after their World Series drought, to know that the "jinx" doesn't exist.

2. Confidence, combined with "dreaming big," can get you a long way.

Now that I have the silly stuff out of the way, let's get serious. This team's confidence is through the roof right now. That's not to say that the team wasn't confident throughout the season, but this confidence is paired with a mindset to "dream big." It has turned out to be a successful combination.

The players have never doubted what the result of every tournament game would be during this run. I talked to junior Courtney Thomas before the team's regional final match against Purdue and asked her what it's like being so close to making the NCAA National Semifinals, one of her dreams as a collegiate volleyball player. "It's so exciting! I mean we're going to Seattle, no doubt about it," she told me. She was right.

The coaching staff has encouraged the players to "dream big" and not just have a goal of winning one or two matches, but to strive for the entire thing and win six straight. I think it's been just as big of a key to their post-season success as their aggressive serving and tough defensive play.

Sure you need to put in the physical work, study the game and have a crazy elite skill set to get this far in the tournament, but trusting your abilities and believing good things will happen can take you to places you've only dreamed of before. Just ask the 2013 Badgers volleyball team.

Inforgraphic: Badgers run over Indiana

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A graphical look at Wisconsin's 51-3 win over Indiana at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday:

Coach Andersen goes back to his roots for a good cause

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Thumbnail image for IMG_7469.JPGYou may not have heard, but Badgers' coach Gary Andersen met his wife, Stacey, while working at a burger joint as a teenager in Utah. Yesterday he went back in time a little bit, stopping by the Culver's near East Towne Mall in Madison to help out during their "Day of Giving." Ten percent of all proceeds from all Culver's sales at every location in Wisconsin on May 21 went towards the Badger Honor Flight.

Wish Upon a Badger: James Helmuth

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Photo Gallery

A couple years ago, inspired by the "Make a Wish" campaign, the UW Athletic Department began its own version with "Wish Upon a Badger." A number of different sports have participated, including men's basketball, women's tennis, football and softball (View all "Wish Upon a Badger" videos).

In cooperation with the American Family Children's Hospital on campus, children are given the opportunity to go behind the scenes with their favorite team, meeting the players and coaches, touring the facilities and hanging out at a practice.

On the Friday before facing UTEP, the Badger football team had the opportunity to host James Helmuth. James has been undergoing treatment since August and is a huge football fan, with his favorite player being Montee Ball.

As you can see in the video, James got to spend the day immersed in Badger football, spending some time in Coach Bielema's office then getting a special present from his favorite player.

See you on Sunday

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1knspv.Em.156.jpgThe Badgers continued their remarkable two-year run of success on and off the field over the weekend at the 2012 NFL Draft. Six UW players were chosen, one in each of the first six rounds. Another six players have signed NFL free agent deals and will take part in training camp.

In addition, OL Josh Oglesby has a physical scheduled with the Washington Redskins and indications are that if he passes that physical, the team will sign him to a free agent deal. Also, LS Kyle Wojta was invited to the Chicago Bears mini-camp in May.

To catch up on all the Badgers moving on to the NFL, check out our 2012 NFL Draft Central page.

We've put together some fascinating notes on the Badgers' NFL Draft success:

* The Badgers were the only team in the country to have at least one player drafted in each of the first six rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft.

* Wisconsin tied for the Big Ten lead and tied for fourth in the country with six players drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. Only Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma had more players picked.

* In the last 14 years (since 1999), Wisconsin has had 12 players picked in the first round of the NFL draft. That is second-best in the Big Ten and tied for 10th-best in the country.

Big Ten First Round Draft Picks Since 1999
1.    Ohio State - 20
2.    Wisconsin - 12
3.    Penn State - 10
4.    Michigan - 9
5.    Iowa - 6
6.    Illinois - 5
       Michigan State - 5
8.    Nebraska - 4
9.    Purdue - 3
10.  Minnesota - 2
       Northwestern - 2
12.   Indiana - 0

Most NFL Draft First Round Picks Since 1999
1.    Miami - 27
2.    Ohio State - 20
3.    USC - 19
4.    Florida State - 15
       Texas - 15
       Florida - 15
7.    Alabama - 14
       Georgia - 14
9.    Tennessee - 13
10.   Wisconsin - 12
       Oklahoma - 12

* UW also has three first-round selections in the past two years, which is tied for third-best in the country.

NFL Draft First Round Picks last two years
1.    Alabama - 8
2.    Baylor - 4
3.    Wisconsin - 3
       LSU - 3
       USC - 3
       Illinois - 3

* Bucky Brooks from NFL.com has two Badgers (LT Ricky Wagner and RB Montee Ball) listed among his top 20 players eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft. LSU and USC are the only other teams with multiple players in the top 20.

* Wisconsin has had 11 players drafted in the last two years. That is tied for second-best among Big Ten teams and tied for sixth nationally.

Big Ten draft picks last two years
1.    Iowa - 12
2.    Wisconsin - 11
       Nebraska - 11
4.    Ohio State - 9
5.    Illinois - 8
       Michigan State - 8
7.    Penn State - 6
8.    Michigan - 5
9.    Purdue - 3
10.   Northwestern - 2
       Indiana - 2
12.   Minnesota - 0

Most Draft Picks by School last two years
1.    Miami - 14
2.    Alabama - 13
      Georgia - 13
4.    Iowa - 12
       USC - 12
5.    Wisconsin - 11
       LSU - 11
       Nebraska - 11
       North Carolina - 11
      Oklahoma - 11

* Of the five Wisconsin offensive linemen who started in the 2010 Rose Bowl, two were drafted in the first round (Gabe Carimi, Bears, 2011 and Kevin Zeitler, Bengals, 2012), one in the second round (Peter Konz, Falcons, 2012) and one in the third round (John Moffitt, Seahawks, 2011). The other starter, Ricky Wagner, enters his senior season as a leading candidate for the Outland Trophy.

* Wisconsin has had five offensive linemen drafted in the last two seasons. That is the most in the country. Georgia is second with four. Among Big Ten teams, no school other than Wisconsin has had more than three o-linemen drafted over the last two years.

* Over the last two years, Wisconsin has had seven players drafted among the first 75 picks. That is tied for second-best in the country, trailing only Alabama (9).

NFL Draft picks among the top 75, last two years
1.    Alabama - 9
2.    Wisconsin - 7
       LSU - 7
       Illinois - 7
5.    North Carolina - 6
6.    California - 5
       Clemson - 5

Danny O'Brien media blitz

An introduction to Danny O'Brien



The official announcement came down today that QB Danny O'Brien is becoming a Badger after starting 17 games at Maryland over the last two years. The above video should give fans an good look at the kind of person, QB and student Danny is. This feature ran prior to the 2011 season opener.



In the final game of the 2010 regular season, O'Brien led Maryland to a 38-31 win over NC State, throwing for 417 yards and four TDs. Badger fans may recognize the NC State QB as well. Lots of highlights in the video above.

Putting on the pads

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Tuesday saw the Badgers don shoulder pads for the first time under sunny skies and warm temps in Camp Randall. The live hitting was kept to a minimum (DB Michael Trotter did get a good lick on WR Chase Hammond during 7-on-7) but the offensive and defensive lines were able to get after each other a little bit.

Thursday will be the final practice before spring break. It will be conducted in full pads in front of about 2500 high school coaches in town for the annual Wisconsin Football Coaches Association clinic.

Today's links
* ESPN.com - Badgers' Abbrederis ready for top role
* Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Smith and Gilbert healing, eager to return to field
* Wisconsin State Journal - Although injured, Jackson taking advantage of early enrollment
* Fox Sports Wisconsin - Southward has gone from athlete to player
* The Badger Herald - Football embraces smooth transitions


***Buy tickets to the Badger Spring Game on April 28 (4 p.m.)***
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