Wisconsin disembarks from bountiful bye week

UW coach Andersen expects star LB to be ready for this week

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March 28, 2014 | 10:31 pm

Just in case you're wondering, no, coaches didn't have a say in how their two bye weeks fell in this season.

Because the season began Aug. 31, adding a 14th week from the start to the last week of November, teams have enjoyed the double relief of two weeks off. It's pure luck of the draw that Wisconsin's have come with spectacular timing.

The first was Oct. 5, after the No. 23 Badgers (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) dumped the effort bucket in a 31-24 loss at Ohio State. UW came back rested and ready and ground Northwestern into a fine pulp the next week, 35-6, at Camp Randall Stadium.

They followed with a 56-32 victory at Illinois and then took the week off. The timing is again perfect, if for nothing else it gave star linebacker Chris Borland, who missed much of the Illinois game with a strained hamstring, time to heal.

If UW would've had a game last weekend, coach Gary Andersen said Borland would've been out. Monday, he said he expects Borland to play.

"I'm very optimistic that he'll play in the game," Andersen said.

The Badgers should be all systems go as they travel to Iowa City for their first game with the Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-2) since 2010. The rivalry, tied 42-42-2, by the way, went dormant when the Big Ten introduced the Legends and Leaders divisions. Iowa is 2-2 in the Legends and trails Michigan State (4-0). Wisconsin is second in the Leaders after the defeat to Ohio State.

Get used to the Badgers. Iowa and Wisconsin will be in the west division of the Big Ten next year, as the league brings in Maryland and Rutgers.

What was the name of the trophy again? Oh yes, the Heartland Trophy. In case you're memory is foggy, the big, brass bull trophy goes to the winner of the Iowa-Wisconsin game.

"I think it means a lot," said Andersen, who's in his first season at Wisconsin, replacing former Hawkeye Bret Bielema, who took the job at Arkansas. "You sit there and you look at that trophy, it's either a trophy case with a trophy in it or a trophy case that's empty, and you either hope to hold onto it or hoping to get it back. So, it does matter to kids and it's something these kids talked about it all last week, and they understand it and it does give a little bit extra edge."

Trophy or whatnot, the Badgers are generally regarded as the No. 2 team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. The numbers back that up.

Wisconsin is No. 2 in total defense (285.0 yards a game) and No. 3 in total offense (513.6 yards a game). Running back Melvin Gordon, an Iowa commitment before switching to his home-state school back in 2010, leads the Big Ten in rushing with 144.57 yards a game and 11 TDs. Running back James White, who nearly committed to Iowa, is No. 3 with 96.0 yards a game and seven TDs.

Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is No. 3 in the league with 118.7 receiving yards a game and five TDs.

In Andersen's first season, the playbook has evolved, but, once again, Wisconsin revolves around strong O-line play. The Badgers lead the Big Ten in rushing and rank eighth nationally at 296.3 yards per game. This is school record pace (287.5, set in 1974).

"The challenge every single year is to use the best 11 kids," Andersen said. "That doesn't necessarily mean just on that side of the football. It is by package. And then you build from there, the play selection you have, to put the ball in the kids' hands or do what you do best. And it is Year 1. You've got to have a foundation and a base offense before you can continue to build on that. But I know they build on it every single week."

Schedule 2013
DateOpponentResult / Time
8/31vs.MassachusettsW45 - 0
9/7vs.Tennessee TechW48 - 0
9/14atArizona StateL30 - 32
9/21vs.PurdueW41 - 10
9/28at 4Ohio StateL24 - 31
10/12vs. 19NorthwesternW35 - 6
10/19atIllinoisW56 - 32
11/2atIowa11:00 CT
11/9vs.Brigham Young2:30 CT
11/16vs.IndianaTBA
11/23atMinnesotaTBA
11/30vs.Penn StateTBA

Leaders
Passing Yards:J. Stave1486
Passing TDs:J. Stave13
Rushing Yards:M. Gordon1012
Rushing TDs:M. Gordon11
Receiving Yards:J. Abbrederis752
Receiving TDs:J. Abbrederis5
Interceptions:S. Shelton3

Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3595 (28)
Passing Yards:1517 (85)
Rushing Yards:2078 (10)
Points per game:39.9 (16)
Yards per game:513.6 (11)
Touchdowns:37 (15)
Field Goals:5 (100)

Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards:1995 (4)
Passing Yards:1382 (7)
Rushing Yards:613 (2)
Points per game:15.9 (5)
Yards per game:285.0 (5)
Touchdowns:13 (6)
Field Goals:7 (40)

Schedule 2013
DateOpponentResult / Time
8/31vs.Northern IllinoisL27 - 30
9/7vs.Missouri StateW28 - 14
9/14atIowa StateW27 - 21
9/21vs.Western MichiganW59 - 3
9/28atMinnesotaW23 - 7
10/5vs.Michigan StateL14 - 26
10/19at 4Ohio StateL24 - 34
10/26vs.NorthwesternW17 - 10
11/2vs. 22Wisconsin11:00 CT
11/9atPurdue11:00 CT
11/23vs. 23MichiganTBA
11/29atNebraska11:00 CT

Leaders
Passing Yards:J. Rudock1616
Passing TDs:J. Rudock12
Rushing Yards:M. Weisman732
Rushing TDs:J. Rudock5
Receiving Yards:K. Martin-Manley276
Receiving TDs:C. Fiedorowicz4
Interceptions:B. Lowery3

Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3181 (54)
Passing Yards:1670 (73)
Rushing Yards:1511 (37)
Points per game:27.4 (73)
Yards per game:397.6 (70)
Touchdowns:22 (81)
Field Goals:10 (30)

Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards:2564 (17)
Passing Yards:1535 (26)
Rushing Yards:1029 (26)
Points per game:18.1 (10)
Yards per game:320.5 (10)
Touchdowns:15 (10)
Field Goals:11 (94)

Leaders
ConferenceOverall
4Ohio State4-08-0
22Wisconsin3-15-2
Indiana1-23-4
Penn State1-24-3
Illinois0-33-4
Purdue0-31-6
Legends
ConferenceOverall
24Michigan State4-07-1
23Michigan2-16-1
Nebraska2-15-2
Iowa2-25-3
Minnesota2-26-2
Northwestern0-44-4

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