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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


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


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 -
- 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


- 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


- 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


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)

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.)

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.)

Badgers elect captains for 2011


Bradie Ewing is one of UW's four captains for 2011.

Four seniors will carry the tag of team captain for the Wisconsin football team this season after a vote of their teammates Sunday.

Fullback Bradie Ewing and first-year quarterback Russell Wilson will represent the Badgers' offense as captains, with defensive lineman Patrick Butrym and defensive back Aaron Henry elected on the other side of the ball.

The announcement of captains by head coach Bret Bielema in a team meeting capped a busy day for the Badgers.

Despite the fact the team had a day off from practice, the players spent more than two hours signing autographs and posing for photos as part of Football Family Fun Day at Camp Randall Stadium. The annual team photo, as well as shots of each position group, followed before the Badgers met as a team.

Ewing played in all 13 games as a fullback last season and scored three touchdowns -- one rushing and two more receiving.

Wilson transferred to UW from NC State, where he was a three-year starter at quarterback and a three-time All-ACC selection. He totaled 93 touchdowns in his Wolfpack career -- the second-best mark in ACC history.

Butrym has played in all 39 games the past three seasons for UW and started on the defensive line in all 13 games in 2010, when he recorded 28 tackles -- including 3.0 for loss.

A second-team All-Big Ten pick last year, Henry started all 13 games, recorded 58 tackles and picked off a pair of passes.

Badgers coming at you in 3D again


Any Badgers fans contemplating the purchase of a 3D television have at least one more reason to embrace the technology.

ESPN 3D announced the schedule for its second season of college football broadcasts Monday, and the Badgers' season-opener vs. UNLV will lead things off on Sept. 1. The 7 p.m. (CT) broadcast will be the network's first of the season as part of a slate that includes 20 games -- twice as many as were broadcast in 2010.

It will be the second 3D broadcast to originate from Camp Randall Stadium, as the network also carried UW's upset of No. 1-ranked Ohio State last season.

Four Saturdays are still listed as "to be determined," but the Badgers currently are the lone Big Ten team to draw a 3D broadcast.

The ESPN 3D schedule also offers a couple more chances for UW to show up on the network. A broadcast spot on Saturday, Oct. 1 is still open, giving ESPN the option of picking up the Badgers' highly-anticipated Big Ten opener against league newcomer Nebraska at Camp Randall.

Also on the schedule is the Jan. 2 Capital One Bowl, which has a Big Ten tie-in, and the Allstate BCS National Championship on Jan. 9.

Here's an inside look at the makings of a 3D broadcast, filmed as the ESPN 3D crew set up for the Badgers' clash with Ohio State last October:

Badgers debut at No. 10 in coaches poll


There's no doubt the college football season is coming now.

On the day the Wisconsin football team reports to begin fall camp in preparation for its Sept. 1 opener against UNLV, the Badgers were presented with a top-10 preseason ranking.

The defending Big Ten champions will enter the 2011 season ranked No. 10, according to the preseason edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll released Thursday. UW is the highest-ranked Big Ten team and one of five league schools to earn a spot in the top 25.

With their highest preseason ranking since 2007, the Badgers will start the season ranked among the top 10 for the fourth time in school history. UW also ranked 10th in the 1999 preseason poll, was fifth in 2000 and seventh in the 2007 edition.

The Badgers began their run to the Rose Bowl last season with a preseason ranking of No. 12.

Oklahoma holds down the No. 1 spot, with Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Florida State rounding out the top five. Stanford checks in at No. 6, followed by Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and the Badgers.

The other Big Ten teams to earn a top-25 nod are league newcomer Nebraska (No. 11), Ohio State (No. 16), Michigan State (No. 17) and Penn State (No. 25). In addition, Iowa, Northwestern and Michigan also received votes.

Northern Illinois and Oregon State, two of the Badgers' non-conference foes, also received votes.

USA Today Coaches Poll - 2011 Preseason
1. Oklahoma (42)
2. Alabama (13
3. Oregon (2)
4. LSU (2)
5. Florida State
6. Stanford
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma State
9. Texas A&M
10. Wisconsin
11. Nebraska
12. South Carolina
13. Virginia Tech.
14. Arkansas
15. TCU
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan State
18. Notre Dame
19. Auburn
20. Mississippi State
21. Missouri
22. Georgia
23. Florida
24. Texas
25. Penn State