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Badgers settle in, get back to work in L.A.


Photo Gallery: Travel Day   |  Live #Badgers Updates on Twitter

All families have their holiday traditions. For the Wisconsin football family, it's become a Christmas tradition to pack up and head west for Los Angeles.

The Badgers did just that for the third-consecutive year on Tuesday, as they returned to L.A. to continue their preparations for the 99th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.

The team met for a conditioning session in the morning before loading buses bound for the Dane County Regional Airport. After a four-hour flight, the Badgers' Delta charter touched down at LAX just after 3 p.m. local time and the team hopped on some specially-decorated buses to head to the Rose Bowl for a first look at the stadium.

Interim head coach Barry Alvarez said he likes taking the team to the field immediately to give the players a chance soak in the setting and enjoy taking some photos so they arrive for the game on Jan. 1 focused on the task at hand.

After the brief sightseeing excursion, the Badgers settled in at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza and met briefly as a team before enjoying a less-than-traditional take on Christmas dinner -- with pizza, pasta and chicken fingers.

The work truly begins for the Badgers on Wednesday, when they take the practice field at The Home Depot Center for the first of six scheduled practices leading up to game day. Of course, it won't be all work and no play for the team, which heads to Disneyland in the afternoon.

Montee Ball, Rick Wagner, Mike Taylor, Shelton Johnson, Curt Phillips will join Alvarez for a short press conference in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle before getting a chance to ride the new attractions at Cars Land in Disney's California Adventure park. The rest of the team can roam the grounds until they meet for dinner at the ESPNZone to cap their first full day in L.A.

FB Insider: History says Badgers far from finished

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It's no secret that Camp Randall Stadium provides some very friendly confines for the Wisconsin football team. The Badgers are 42-3 at home since Bret Bielema took the helm in 2006.

With that in mind, it will feel good for the Badgers to return home Saturday after suffering a tough loss on the road at Nebraska last week.

Beyond the fact that UW loses so rarely at home -- the Badgers are 21-3 in Big Ten games at Camp Randall under Bielema -- history says that last week's setback won't derail Wisconsin's league title aspirations.

In the previous five seasons in which the Badgers lost their first Big Ten road game, UW went on to post a combined record of 24-7 after suffering that initial road loss.

That includes a 5-1 mark last season and a 7-0  record in 2010 after losing conference road openers at Michigan State.

Wisconsin has won 18 Big Ten games since the start of the 2010 season, tying with the Spartans for the most league wins of any conference team over that span.

In other words, don't write these Badgers off just yet.

XC Insider: Pace picks up for Badgers this weekend


First appeared in Varsity

Though they have a pair of meets under their belts already, the Badgers' season effectively starts this weekend.

The competition steps up for the women's cross country team Saturday in Earlysville, Va.

Cal, Kentucky and Oklahoma will all be in attendance as No. 15-ranked Virginia hosts the Panorama Farms Invitational.

Through two weeks of the season, it's been smooth sailing for the Badgers, who claimed the Badger Opener on Sept. 9 with their top runners competing and then won the Warhawk Invitational last Saturday behind a number of their developmental runners.

"We've had a good start to the season," UW head coach Jim Stintzi said. "Our lineups looked different the first two weeks, but we've learned a little bit about our athletes each time we've raced."

However, this weekend's meet opens a run of three major meets in four weeks for the Badgers. The team's top athletes return to the road next week for the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic on Sept. 29, a meet that will serve as a preview of the course that plays host to the NCAA championship in November.

After an off week, the Badgers will be set for the fourth-annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 12, which is the highlight of the "regular season" nationally and includes 45 of the top programs from around the country.

"There's no doubt we've got the adidas meet circled," Stintzi said. "It's always big for us to run well on our home course, and it's our last major test before we go to the Big Ten championship. These next few weeks aver very important for us."

Bielema releases initial depth chart


- Preseason Depth Chart (PDF)

After spending two weeks and 16 practices with his team, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has decided who will line up for the Badgers in their Sept. 1 season-opener against Northern Iowa.

Bielema released his preseason depth chart Monday, naming 52 players to his initial two-deep.

Despite some of the suspense being removed Sunday when Bielema took to Twitter to announce that junior Danny O'Brien would be the Badgers' starting quarterback, there were some mysteries solved with the release of the depth chart.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Fredrick and sophomore Kenzel Doe join the veteran of the group, junior Jared Abbrederis, as starters at wide receiver.

Junior Brian Wozniak gets the nod as a No. 1 tight end alongside junior and returning starter Jacob Pedersen.

While LT Rick Wagner, LG Ryan Groy, C Travis Frederick and RT Rob Havenstein were all but set as starters on the offensive line, sophomore Kyle Costigan won the No. 1 job at right guard.

Sophomore Sherard Cadogan and redshirt freshman Derek Watt, a recently-converted linebacker, share the No. 1 line at fullback.

The choices at tailback should come as no surprise, with senior Montee Ball the Badgers' starter and junior James White the backup.

On defense, the Badgers will line up with junior David Gilbert and senior Brendan Kelly at defense end, with both sharing the No. 1 lines with junior Pat Muldoon. In between, juniors Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer occupy the No. 1 spots at defensive tackle.

The Big Ten's top tacklers from last year return, with junior Chris Borland the starter at middle linebacker and senior Mike Taylor on the top line at the will linebacker spot. Junior Ethan Armstrong fills out the group as the No. 1 sam linebacker.

The secondary is an experienced one, with seniors Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith holding down the No. 1 spots at cornerback and senior Shelton Johnson and junior Dez Southward back as the No. 1 safeties.

On special teams, Bielema will tab sophomore Drew Meyer to handle punts, with freshman Jack Russell the No. 1 kicker on field goals and sophomore Kyle French handling kickoffs.

Sophomore James McGuire will snap with freshman Stephen Salata as the holder.

Abbrederis, a preseason All-America returner on many media lists after an impressive season running back kicks last year, is UW's No. 1 returner for both punts and kickoffs.

Storify: BTN pays visit to Camp Randall

BTN's Big Ten Football Preview Tour rolled into Madison on Monday, with the on-air crew of Dave Revsine, Howard Griffith and Gerry DiNardo joined by BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart.

The crew took in UW's practice session and then conducted interviews for their special on the Badgers, which will air at 9 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday.

Here's a look at the tour stop via Storify, collecting the tweets, photos and videos of the BTN staff and UWBadgers.com.

Badgers travel to space and back (on the radio)


The crew from SiriuxXM College Sports Nation (that's Ch. 91 for those with subscriptions) made a stop in Madison Friday as part of their College Football Camp Tour.

Host Mark Packer and his crew conducted their three-hour live show from Camp Randall Stadium, interviewing director of athletics Barry Alvarez, head coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator Matt Canada and defensive coordinator Chris Ash.

Six Badgers also spoke with Packer about their thoughts on the upcoming season, what it's like to play in front of a 80,000-plus at Camp Randall and, most notably, how to properly consume a Scrambler from Mickey's Dairy Bar.

Have a listen to some of what the Badgers had to say:

Notes worth noting on the Badgers


Last week's trip to Chicago for the annual Big Ten Football Media Days meant supplying the media members in attendance with plenty of info on what the Badgers will bring to the table in 2012.

You can peruse the entire notes package, but here are some of the most interesting nuggets on UW heading into the season...

The Basics
- The Badgers return just 11 of 22 starters (five on offense, six on defense). However, UW has 19 players on the roster that have started at least one game in their career.

- Wisconsin's 115-player roster breaks down like this: 49 freshmen, 30 sophomores, 27 juniors, 9 seniors. UW's eight scholarship seniors are tied for second-fewest among FBS teams.

- Eight returning Badgers have earned all-conference honors at some point during their careers (six offensive players and two defensive players).

This Fall Belongs to Ball

- After tying Barry Sanders' FBS record with 39 touchdowns last season, senior RB Montee Ball has 61 for his career and needs 18 TDs to break the NCAA career record for total TDs.

- Ball led the nation with 1,923 rushing yards and 2,229 yards from scrimmage last year, while his 39 touchdowns were more than 42 FBS teams scored in all of 2011. His 33 rushing touchdowns were more than 104 FBS teams tallied last season.

- Ball has started just 18 games in his career but is averaging 142.9 rushing yards and has scored 51 touchdowns in those games.

- Ball has not lost a fumble in his career, spanning 617 touches (568 carries, 49 receptions).

Bowling with the Badgers
- The Badgers have made four appearances in the Rose Bowl during the BCS era (since 1998). That is the second-most in the country during that span, trailing only USC's five appearances.

- UW has appeared in a bowl game in 10 straight seasons, tied for the ninth-longest active streak in the country. It is second only to Ohio State's streak of 12-straight bowl games among Big Ten teams.

At the Top
- Wisconsin is one of just six teams in the country to win at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons. The others are Alabama, Boise State, Oregon, Virginia Tech and TCU.

- The Badgers own a 32-8 record over the past three seasons, and only five teams boast more wins than UW since the start of the 2009 season: Boise State (38), TCU (36), Alabama (36), Oregon (34) and LSU (33).

-Wisconsin went undefeated at home for the second-straight season and has won 16 consecutive home games, the second-longest active streak in the country. UW's 50-4 record at Camp Randall Stadium since 2004 is third-best in the country and the Badgers' 50 home wins in that span is tied with LSU for most in the nation.

- Wisconsin was the only team in the country to finish among the top 15 in the final NCAA stats in both total offense and total defense in 2011.

- Since the 2002-03 school year, the Badgers have played in a bowl game every year while also qualifying for the NCAA men's basketball tournament. That streak of 10 straight years with both is by far the longest in the country. BYU and Michigan State are tied for second on that list at five consecutive years.

Achievements of the Year: Badgers head back to Sweet 16


For the first time in program history, the Badgers made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.

Fourth-seeded Wisconsin entered the 2012 NCAA Tournament having tallied the third-most victories in school history and coming one game short of grabbing a share of the Big Ten regular-season crown.

After cruising past Montana, the only thing standing in the way of the Badgers and a return trip to the Round of 16 were the fourth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores, the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament champions.

After holding the SEC's two leading scorers, John Jenkins (20.1) and Jeffrey Taylor (16.3), to below-average performances, the Badgers marched on to Boston and the Sweet 16, where they would tip-off with Syracuse, the East Region's top-seeded team.

Wisconsin defeated Montana, 73-49, in the second round of the NCAA tournament at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M., before holding off Vanderbilt, 60-57, and earning a trip to its second-consecutive Sweet 16.

Despite a valiant effort from the Badgers, including 14-made three-point baskets, UW fell to Syracuse, 64-63, in one of the most thrilling games of the entire 2012 NCAA Tournament.

What to Watch For: Olympic Trials Day 5

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The 2012 USA Olympic Trials resume Thursday in Eugene, Ore., with the biggest day of competition yet for those with ties to the Wisconsin men's and women's track programs.

A total of seven Badgers -- either current or former -- are set to compete inside Hayward Field when the Trials resume at 5:50 p.m. (CT). Here's a quick rundown on what to watch for.

Keep in mind that tonight's live television window runs from 8-10 p.m. on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).

Men's 1500 Meters - Qualifying - 6:20 p.m.
- Top six per heat, plus next six fastest times, advance to Friday semifinals
- Rob Finnerty (Wisconsin), Jack Bolas (New Balance), Craig Miller (New Balance)

Finnerty has been riding a hot streak since breaking out by winning the 1500 meters at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in late May. He followed that with a fifth-place finish and All-America honors in the event at the NCAA outdoor championships.

It took an eleventh-hour run (literally) for Finnerty to make the Trials, however, as he clocked in at a personal-best 3:38.60 to achieve the automatic qualifying standard at a special race in Bloomington, Ind., just hours before the qualification deadline closed on June 10. Finnerty runs in the third of three preliminary-round heats.

Bolas and Miller, both 2010 graduates of UW, continue as teammates for New Balance and will race together in the first heat of the preliminary round.

In his second Olympic Trials appearance -- he also qualified in 2008 -- Bolas enters as the No. 10 seed for the competition at 3:36.33. Miller will make his debut at the Trials as the No. 12 seed with a personal-best time of 3:36.35.

Women's High Jump - Qualifying - 7 p.m.
- Top 12 advance to final
- Megan Seidl (Wisconsin Runner Racing Team)

Megan Seidl, a 2010 UW graduate, makes her third-consecutive appearance at a U.S. championship meet, entering the high jump prelims tied for the No. 9 seed with her personal-best clearance of 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches.

The 2008 Big Ten outdoor champion, Seidl was a two-time NCAA championships qualifier for the Badgers as a senior in 2010. That year, she went on to finish seventh at the U.S. championships in Des Moines. Seidl finished 14th in last year's U.S. meet in Eugene.

Seidl's best finish in a national meet came when she tied for third at the 2011 USA Indoor Championships.

Men's Pole Vault - Final - 7:05 p.m.

- Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team
- Darren Niedermeyer (Jump High Athletic Club)

Darren Niedermeyer survived and advanced through a brutal qualifying round in the pole vault Monday, tying for sixth to advance as one of 11 qualifiers for the final.

In chilly, damp conditions, the 2005 UW graduate managed to clear 17 feet, 4 1/2 inches on his third and final attempt at the height -- which proved to be the cutoff for advancement to the final.

Niedermeyer was the last man to make the trials field, entering tied for the No. 23 seed at 18-1.

He owns a lifetime-best clearance of 18-9, which he would have to top in order to make Team USA even with a top-three finish. The "A" qualifying standard for the London Olympics is 18-9 1/4.

Niedermeyer won the 2004 indoor and 2005 outdoor Big Ten pole vault titles for the Badgers, and his most recent major success came when he won the 2010 Drake Relays title in the pole vault by upsetting 2008 Olympic Trials winner Derek Miles, who also is in Thursday's final.

Women's Shot Put - Qualifying - 7:40 p.m.
- Top 12 advance to Friday final
- Kelsey Card (Wisconsin)

Kelsey Card looks to extend her tremendous rookie season another day as she competes in the qualifying round of the women's shot put.

Card actually competed in the discus at the NCAA outdoor championships earlier this month, but her All-America effort in the shot put from the indoor season is what qualified her for the Olympic Trials.

Her school-record throw of 55-8 1/2 has Card tied for the No. 19 seed entering Thursday's qualifying round. She will look to improve that standing in order to advance, as the top 12 finishers in the 23-woman field will move on to Friday's final.

Card is no stranger to competing on the national stage at Hayward Field. She won the national junior title in the shot put at the 2011 USA Junior Championships at Hayward on her way to claiming bronze for Team USA at the 2011 Pan Am Junior Championships.

Men's 3000 Steeplechase - Final - 8:30 p.m.
- Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team
- Evan Jager (Oregon Track Club Elite)

Evan Jager has quickly gone from steeplechase novice to a popular pick for Team USA in the event. He'll get the chance to live up to that hype in the final of the event Thursday.

In his first season competing in the steeple, Jager entered the Olympic Trials seeded No. 9 with his personal-best time of 8:20.90. He easily advanced out of the qualifying round Monday by winning his section in 8:30.60.

Jager competed just one season in Madison, earning All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 1500 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships and then finishing eighth in the 1500 at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.

Shortly after, he followed former Badgers Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp in moving west to train under former UW assistant coach Jerry Schumacher as part of Oregon Track Club Elite in Portland. The move paid immediately dividends for Jager, who made it an all-Badgers trio representing Team USA in the 5000 meters at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.

Achievements of the Year: Ahmed runs Olympic qualifying time


Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.

Mohammed Ahmed's return to the track turned out to be an introduction to the world stage.

After redshirting the indoor season following an outstanding cross country campaign that saw him win the Big Ten title and earn All-America honors with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA championship, Ahmed had set his sights on taking a run at the automatic qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in the 10,000 meters.

He planned on giving himself one chance to hit that mark, at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29 in Palo Alto, Calif. Turns out, all Ahmed needed was that one shot.

The St. Catharines, Ontario, native clocked in at 27 minutes, 34.64 seconds to not only achieve the Olympic "A" standard but also smash the 36-year-old Big Ten record in the event.

Ahmed's time stood as the No. 6 mark in the world for several weeks.

The performance also helped propel Ahmed to a Big Ten title in the 5000 meters two weeks later as he boosted the Badgers to the conference team title. He also scored All-America honors in the 5000 with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA outdoor championships.

Now, all that stands between Ahmed and a spot on his native Canada's team for the Olympics in London is a top-three finish at next week's 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary.

- Full story: Ahmed qualifies for Olympics with school-record run