Greetings Fellow Badgers!
Life is good. My electricity came back on this afternoon (11/9) at about 4:30 pm.
Last week, after a two-week hiatus, the Badgers I know and love returned, beating Purdue by a score of 62 to 17. Wisconsin ran up 605 total yards in the effort, with Montee Ball accounting for a good portion of that offense (223 rushing yards). Ball scored three times, for a season total of 24 touchdowns, adding to his record for most points in a season in school history and tying Brian Calhoun’s record for most touchdowns in a season. Ball has two or more touchdowns in 13 consecutive regular-season games and 39 touchdowns in the last 15 games (scoring in every game). In acknowledgment of his effort, Ball was named the Big Ten's co-offensive player of the week.
While the running game got back on track, special teams play did not live up to expectations. Against Purdue, blocked punts weren’t the issue – it was kickoff returns instead. UW is 11th in the Big Ten in kickoff coverage, with a net of 42.5 yards per kick. Purdue returner Mostert had some huge returns last week, including returns of 49 and 74 yards. Hopefully the Badgers can turn it around this weekend and cause some havoc for Minnesota's special teams, ala 2005.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Borland had a good game against Purdue and was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week with 11 tackles, two forced fumbles and one interception.
With the win, the Badgers moved back up on the polls, to #18 in the BCS rankings, #16 in the AP poll and #14 in the Coaches’ poll. In the Big Ten, the Badgers (3-2) are currently tied for second place with OSU in the Leaders division, behind PSU (5-0). PSU has a tough upcoming schedule, with Nebraska at home this weekend and then games on the road at OSU and Wisconsin. Given the recent turmoil in Happy Valley, it would not be surprising to see PSU lose a few of those, potentially allowing Wisconsin to move back up in the standings. Over in the Legends division, MSU leads with a 4-1 record, followed by Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan all at 3-2.
This week the Badgers (7-2, 3-2) take on Minnesota (2-7, 1-4) at TCF Bank Stadium in the annual battle for the axe. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network starting at 3:30 pm EST. We’ll be gathering at Rookies in Cromwell to see the game, so come join us. http://rookiesct.com/site/directions/ Free safety Aaron Henry, who injured his ankle against Purdue, is expected to play against Minnesota.
While everyone loves to pick on Minnesota, they have shown some spunk in the past few weeks, beating Iowa at home and then nearly beating MSU at East Lansing last week. Starting quarterback MarQueis Gray is back after being out with a foot injury earlier in the season. The Gophers’ running game is lackluster, however (last in the Big Ten at 144.2 yards per game, 3.9 per carry) and the Gophers are 11th in the league in points allowed (33.7 per game), tied for 10th against the run (191.1, 18 TDs) and 11th against the pass (236.4, 17 TDs, three interceptions). Oh, and by the way, Montee Ball has more touchdowns (24) than the whole Minnesota team (21).
Of course anything can happen when Paul Bunyan’s Axe is on the line. The last time Wisconsin gave up the axe was after a three-point loss at Minnesota in 2003. Since then, the Badgers have won the last seven matches. Being a newcomer, Russell Wilson needed a little lesson in the history behind the axe this week. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Wilson learned quickly that UW-Minnesota is the most-played rivalry game among Bowl Subdivision programs (120 meetings) and the teams don't like each other. “I finally started to realize it once coach had the ax at practice (Sunday),” Wilson said. “Everybody has to touch the ax while you're going through practice. That's kind of funny.”
The UW released a newly discovered story today about the long-standing rivalry against Minnesota. I’ll let you read about it yourself… http://www.uwbadgers.com/blog/2011/11/it-started-innocently-enough-sundays.html