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Ball and blockers Konz, Zeitler named All-Americans

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Record-setting running back Montee Ball and two of the Wisconsin teammates who have helped pave the way for his remarkable season, offensive linemen Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler, were each named to the 2011 AFCA Coaches' All-America Team released Monday by the American Football Coaches Association.

The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Ball has scored 38 total touchdowns this season to stand one score shy of Barry Sanders' single-season NCAA record of 39 TDs. He also ranks fourth nationally with 135.31 rushing yards per game and leads the nation with 32 rushing touchdowns.

His average of 6.4 yards per carry is second-best nationally among players with at least 200 carries on the season.

The Badgers' starting center, Konz also was named a finalist Monday for the Rimington Trophy, which is presented annually to the most outstanding center in the nation. Selection to the AFCA All-America squad should help Konz's chances, as it is one of four All-America squads the Rimington committee uses to select its winner.

Konz started the first 10 games of the season for UW before suffering an ankle injury in UW's win over Minnesota on Nov. 12.

Zeitler has started at right guard in all 13 games this season, blocking for an offense that has averaged 467 yards and ranks No. 4 nationally in scoring at 44.6 points per game.

The Badgers' three offensive selections are the most of any team. Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford each had two players selected to the All-America team's offensive unit.

Wisconsin had two All-Americans on the AFCA list last season, LT Gabe Carimi and TE Lance Kendricks. Both were selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.

A viewer's guide to Big Ten Championship Game weekend

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The usual flood of college football games flowing through your TV will slow to a trickle as conference championship weekend gets underway this Friday and Saturday.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, with quality taking the place of quantity as leagues look to crown their champions and teams await their bowl-game fates.

In the middle of it all is the first-ever Big Ten Football Championship Game, meaning there will be no shortage of Badgers-related programming for you to consume leading up to kickoff Saturday. Not surprisingly, BTN will have blanket coverage from Indianapolis.

It begins Friday with live coverage of the coaches' press conferences for Bret Bielema and Mark Dantonio, live from Lucas Oil Stadium at 3 p.m. (CT). The pressers also will be streamed live on BTN.com.

You can also watch a replay of the Spartans' 37-31 win over the Badgers on Oct. 22 at 6 p.m., followed by a special edition of the Big Ten Football Report, live from Indy. The 60-minute preview show features Dave Revsine, Mike Hall, Howard Griffith, Gerry DiNardo and Glen Mason talking all things Badgers-Spartans.

The action gets going early Saturday, with ESPN College GameDay featuring record-setting Badgers RB Montee Ball as part of its broadcast that begins at 9 a.m.

A special edition of BTN Live is set for 10 a.m., live from the Big Ten Fan Fest in Indianapolis. Revsine, Griffith, DiNardo and Mason will take questions from Twitter and Facebook.

BTN is back to Indy at 5:30 p.m. with a one-hour pregame show, which leads directly into Fox's live pregame show that begins at 6:30 p.m. Kickoff from Lucas Oil Stadium is set for 7:17 p.m., live on Fox.

You can catch a replay of the championship game at 8 p.m. Sunday, immediately following BTN's one-hour Bowl Selection Special at 7 p.m.

If you can't be near your TV, be sure to watch a live simulcast of the BTN broadcasts on BTN2Go.com or grab the BTN2Go app for iPhone or iPad.

Big Ten Championship Game TV Schedule (All times Central)
Friday
3 p.m. BTN Coaches Press Conferences
6 p.m. BTN Replay: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State (Oct. 22)
8 p.m. BTN Big Ten Football Report Special Edition
Saturday
8 a.m. ESPNU College GameDay
9 a.m. ESPN College GameDay
10 a.m. BTN BTN Live
5:30 p.m. BTN Big Ten Championship Pregame Show
6:30 p.m. FOX Pregame Show
7:17 p.m. FOX Big Ten Championship Game
Sunday
8 p.m. BTN Replay: Big Ten Championship Game

Ball claims fourth Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor

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For the fourth time in his record-breaking junior season, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball has been named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

Ball earned the honor for the second-consecutive week, and the four weekly awards Ball has claimed this season rank as the second-most by any player in a single season in conference history.

Combined with the three Offensive Player of the Week awards earned by senior QB Russell Wilson, the Badgers secured seven weekly offensive honors in 12 weeks this season.

Ball shares the title this week as co-offensive player of the week alongside Michigan QB Denard Robinson.

Ball extended his Big Ten single-season record to 34 total touchdowns by rushing for four scores in the Badgers' 45-7 win over Penn State on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The Wentzville, Mo., native carried 25 times and finished with 156 yards to go along with the fourth four-touchdown game of his career.

Ball now has 27 rushing TDs on the year -- also a Big Ten single-season record.

By scoring multiple touchdowns for the 12th-cosnecutive game, Ball broke the NCAA record for consecutive multi-TD games held by Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders. He also is closing in on Sanders' single-season touchdowns record, which was set at 39 in 1988.

In all, Ball has scored at least one touchdown in 18 straight games.

Wilson picks up third Big Ten Player of the Week award

FB_111114_Wilson_Russell.jpgHe wasn't quite perfect, but Russell Wilson's nearly-spotless performance Saturday against Minnesota was enough to earn the Badgers quarterback his third Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award this season.

Wilson completed 16 of 17 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns as the Badgers cruised past Minnesota, 42-13, in Minneapolis. He connected on his first 16 throws before a long pass to Nick Toon was broken up in the third quarter.

His 94.1 completion percentage ranks as the fourth-highest in a game in Big Ten history.

The honor ties Wilson with RB Ron Dayne for the second-most Big Ten weekly awards by a UW player in a single season, as Dayne picked up three weekly conference honors as a freshman in 1996. He also claimed four awards as a senior in 1999, the highest single-season total in Badgers history.

Wilson's nod gives the Badgers a total of five offensive honors this season, with RB Montee Ball also picking up a pair of weekly awards.

Wilson's ultra-efficient work Saturday improved his nation-leading mark in passing efficiency to 201.6, well ahead of the NCAA record of 186.0 set by Hawaii's Colt Brennan in 2006. Wilson also leads the nation in yards per attempt (11.1) and yards per completion (15.1) as well as yards of total offense per play (9.9.).

A semifinalist for both the Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award, you can read more about Wilson's place among the nation's best in this blog post.

Big Ten champs vault to No. 1 in national poll

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Just two days after proving themselves the class of the Big Ten for the 13th-consecutive season, the Badgers now find themselves atop the list of the nation's top teams, as well.

For the first time since 2007, the Wisconsin men's cross country team is ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA National Coaches Poll.

UW received seven of the possible 12 first-place votes to vault Oklahoma State for the top position in the latest poll, which was released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Cowboys picked up the remaining five first-place votes and come in at No. 2.

BYU, Colorado and Oklahoma round out the top five.

"Of course it's an honor to be ranked No. 1 in the country, and I'm very happy for our athletes," said fourth-year UW head coach Mick Byrne. "But that does nothing to change the challenges ahead of us."

The move to No. 1 comes on the heels of the Badgers' dominant win Sunday at the 2011 Big Ten Championship, where UW used a team score of 17 points to claim its 13th-straight conference crown. Indiana, which finished runner-up to the Badgers at the Big Ten meet, follows No. 6 Stanford and checks in at No. 7 in the national poll.

Behind the Hoosiers, No. 8 Portland and a tie for No. 9 between Iona and Princeton round out the national top 10.

Byrne is pleased voters took notice of his team's performance at the conference meet, but he says the role of favorite for the upcoming NCAA championship hasn't changed.

"Oklahoma State is the two-time defending champion, returns everyone from last year and is the clear favorite for the NCAA meet," Byrne said. "They have looked fantastic this season and Girma Mecheso hasn't even competed yet. That's a guy that was seventh at the national meet last year.

"They are the team to beat."

Byrne was cautious to put much stock in rankings heading into the heart of championship season.

"Coach (Martin) Smith's teams often fly under the radar, but what Oklahoma did to compete with Oklahoma State at the Big 12 meet has them on my radar," Byrne said. "The same thing goes for Coach (Mark) Wetmore, because Colorado is always a team that shows up and performs on the day. You can count on it.

"Plus, we know that BYU and Stanford both have very talented teams and will be a factor when we get to Terre Haute."

For Wisconsin, the return to No. 1 marks UW's 22nd week as the nation's top-ranked team since 1998. Only Stanford, at 31, has been atop the USTFCCCA rankings more often than the Badgers.

Wisconsin, Stanford, Colorado and Arkansas are the only programs to be ranked in each of the 99 polls released since the start of the 1998 season.

Bielema heads to Bristol for ESPN takeover

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It will be hard to miss Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema if you tune into an ESPN network on Friday.

Taking advantage of the No. 4 Badgers' bye week, Bielema will spend the day in Bristol, Conn., to appear on a number of TV and radio shows.

Here's a look at Bielema's scheduled appearances (Central time):

- 8:40 a.m.  SportsCenter - ESPN
- 10 a.m.  SportsNation Chat - ESPN.com
- 11:40 a.m.  SportsCenter - ESPN
- 12:30 p.m.  Scott Van Pelt Show - ESPNews / ESPN Radio
- 2:20 p.m.  SportsCenter - ESPNews
- 2:30 p.m.  College Football Live - ESPN2
- 3 p.m.  College Football Live (Replay) - ESPNU
- 4 p.m.  SportsNation - ESPNU
- 5:20 p.m.  SportsCenter - ESPN
- 7 p.m.  College Football Live Pregame Show - ESPN

In addition to his broadcast schedule, Bielema also will spend time recording a podcast, sitting down with the crew from College GameDay Radio and conducting an interview with ESPN The Magazine.

In all, Bielema will put in a full nine hours on the Bristol campus.


Wilson picks up Big Ten Player of the Week honors

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- Big Ten Players of the Week

Russell Wilson is 1-0 with the Wisconsin football team, and now the same can be said for his record when it comes to picking up weekly honors from the Big Ten Conference.

Wilson has been named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week following his debut performance with the Badgers, in which he completed 10 of 13 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running for 62 yards and another score.

Those numbers added up to a season-opening 51-17 win over UNLV at Camp Randall Stadium.

The North Carolina State transfer became just the second UW quarterback to throw for 250 yards and rush for at least 50 yards in the same game -- and the first Badger signal caller to do so since 1979.

With Wilson under center, the Badgers' No. 1 offense scored on each of its eight possessions, including seven touchdowns, and racked up 444 yards in just under three quarters of action.

Wilson's 317 total yards was the best-ever mark by a Badgers QB in his debut, as were his pass efficiency (292.5) and completion percentage (76.9). His passing efficiency mark would lead the nation if he had met the NCAA's statistical minimum of 15 pass attempts.

The Badgers return to action Saturday by hosting Oregon State in a game that kicks off at 11 a.m. and can be seen live on ESPN.

ESPN picks up Badgers' matchup with Oregon State

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- ESPN College Football Schedule

For a second-consecutive week, ESPN will lead off its coverage of college football at Camp Randall Stadium.

The Wisconsin football team's matchup with Oregon State will air on ESPN's primary network at 11 a.m. (CT) Saturday, the Big Ten Conference announced Sunday. Michigan State's game with Florida Atlantic will air in the same window on ESPN2.

UW also was part of the World Wide Leader's first game of the 2011 season with its 51-17 win over UNLV on Thursday.

Currently, at least six of the Badgers' 12 regular-season games are scheduled to appear on one of ESPN's platforms. That number could grow as TV assignments continue to be announced during the season.

Badger men open season ranked No. 1 in Great Lakes Region

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From left, Maverick Darling, Elliot Krause, Mohammed Ahmed and Reed Connor will anchor the Badgers' efforts in 2011.

Winners of nine-straight NCAA Great Lakes Regional championships, the Wisconsin men's cross country team opens the 2011 season as the region's No. 1-ranked team.

The Badgers top the regional rankings, which were released Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. UW also finished the 2010 season ranked atop the Great Lakes Region.

In all, UW has taken the crown at 15 of the last 20 runnings of the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and seeks its 10th-straight title when the event moves to Toledo, Ohio, on Nov. 12. The following year, the Badgers are scheduled to host the 2012 NCAA Great Lakes Regional at the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison.

Big Ten Conference teams hold down six of the top nine spots in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings, with five of the top six squads hailing from the Big Ten. UW leads the way, followed by No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Michigan State. Purdue checks in at No. 9.

The USTFCCCA will release the preseason edition of its national rankings Tuesday.

USTFCCCA Men's Cross Country Rankings
Great Lakes Region - 2011 Preseason

1. Wisconsin
2. Indiana
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
5. Michigan
6. Michigan State
7. Butler
8. Cincinnati
9. Purdue
10. Indiana State
11. Eastern Michigan
12. Marquette
13. Kent State
14. Xavier
15. Dayton

Badgers release depth chart for season-opener

FB_110822_Wilson_Russell.jpgWith the Badgers' season-opener vs. UNLV just 10 days away, head coach Bret Bielema announced has announced his projected starters. Bielema released his first depth chart of the season late Monday.

Among the items of note:
- Senior Russell Wilson, fresh off being named a team captain Sunday, will be UW's starting quarterback.

- The tandem of junior Montee Ball and James White share the top line at tailback, with redshirt freshman Jeff Lewis and true freshman Melvin Gordon listed together at the No. 2 spot.

- Sophomore Jeff Duckworth and true freshman Kenzel Doe are each listed No. 2 at the wide receiver spots.

- A pair of true freshmen cracked the two-deep on defense, with Derek Landisch sharing the No. 2 line at one outside linebacker spot and Darius Hillary backing up senior Antonio Fenelus at cornerback.

- Junior Marcus Cromartie shares the top line with senior Devin Smith at the other cornerback spot.

- Junior Shelton Johnson is the No. 1 free safety following a battle for the starting job throughout fall camp with sophomore Dezmen Southward, who is listed No. 2.

- Sophomore Alec Lerner will handle kickoff duties, while senior Philip Welch shares the starting spot on field goals with redshirt freshman Kyle French.

- In addition to starting at wide receiver, sophomore Jared Abbrederis will also handle punt return duties and combine with sophomore RB James White on kickoff returns.


Wisconsin Football Depth Chart  |  Printable Version (PDF)

Offense    
QB 16 Russell Wilson (Sr.) 5 Jon Budmayr (So.)
RB 28 Montee Ball (Jr.) / 20 James White (So.) 22 Jeff Lewis (Fr.) / 25 Melvin Gordon (Fr.)
FB 34 Bradie Ewing (Sr.) 86 Sherard Cadogan (Fr.)
WR 1 Nick Toon (Sr.) 15 Jeff Duckworth (So.)
WR 4 Jared Abbrederis (So.) 6 Kenzel Doe (Fr.)
TE 48 Jacob Pedersen (So.) 85 Brian Wozniak (So.)
TE 82 Jake Byrne (Sr.) 85 Brian Wozniak (So.)
LT 58 Ricky Wagner (Jr.) 63 Casey Dehn (So.)
LG 72 Travis Frederick (So.) 75 Zac Matthias (So.)
C 66 Peter Konz (Jr.) 79 Ryan Groy (So.)
RG 70 Kevin Zeitler (Sr.) 64 Robert Burge (Jr.)
RT 67 Josh Oglesby (Sr.) 78 Rob Havenstein (Fr.)

Defense
   
DE 93 Louis Nzegwu (Sr.) 97 Brendan Kelly (Jr.)
DT 95 Patrick Butrym (Sr.) 96 Beau Allen (So.)
DT 87 Ethan Hemer (So.) 91 Jordan Kohout (So.)
DE 11 David Gilbert (Jr.) 92 Pat Muldoon (So.)
OLB 9 Kevin Claxton (Sr.) 36 Ethan Armstrong (So.)
MLB 44 Chris Borland (So.) 59 Marcus Trotter (Fr.)
OLB 53 Mike Taylor (Jr.) 13 Conor O'Neill (So.) / 30 Derek Landisch (Fr.)
CB 10 Devin Smith (Sr.) / 14 Marcus Cromartie (Jr.) 21 Peniel Jean (Fr.)
SS 24 Shelton Johnson (Jr.) 12 Dezmen Southward (So.)
FS 7 Aaron Henry (Sr.) 43 Michael Trotter (Fr.)
CB 26 Antonio Fenelus (Sr.) 19 Darius Hillary (Fr.)

Special Teams

   
P 98 Brad Nortman (Sr.) 94 Kyle French (Fr.)
K (FG) 18 Philip Welch (Sr.) / 94 Kyle French (Fr.) 96 Alec Lerner (So.)
KO 96 Alec Lerner (So.)
18 Philip Welch (Sr.)
LS 62 Kyle Wojta (Sr.) 56 James McGuire (So.)
H 98 Brad Nortman (Sr.) 12 Nate Tice (Sr.)
PR 4 Jared Abbrederis (So.) 7 Aaron Henry (Sr.)
KR 20 James White (So.) 4 Jared Abbrederis (So.)

ON WISCONSIN