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Original Issue

6 Wisconsin

Pounding for pounding, the offense is as good as it gets, but one big hole still gapes

Key Recruit

DAN VOLTZ Meet the next great Badgers lineman. Freshmen don't usually start for the team, but the 6'4", 288-pound Illinois native (who turned down offers from Alabama and Stanford) is ready to make an impact on a squad that lost two all-conference lineman.

Breakout Player

David Gilbert The 6'4", 250-pound pass rusher's return to the lineup is a big reason why the Badgers D will be much improved. Gilbert had three sacks in four games last season before a broken right foot sidelined him for the year. A healthy Gilbert has the talent to be one of the league's premier intimidators on defense.

The Skinny

WE KNOW this much is true: The Badgers will score plenty of points. Over the last two seasons Wisconsin averaged more than 40 per game. Even with quarterback Russell Wilson gone to the NFL and a new offensive coordinator (spread guru Matt Canada) calling plays, the Badgers will again have a formidable ground-and-pound offense, larded by the usual immovable offensive line in front of Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball at running back. New quarterback Danny O'Brien will have plenty of targets, the most appealing of which are wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and tight end Jacob Pedersen. The defense, which surrendered an average of 38.3 points in their three losses last season, figures to be better with an improved pass rush.

Final Analysis

THE BADGERS have entered each of the last two seasons as a potential national championship contender, but a few regular-season stumbles (last October it was Michigan State's Hail Mary, 37--31 win against the Badgers) have derailed their BCS championship game hopes. This is the most talented and explosive squad of Bret Bielema's seven teams in Madison. Being the head of the class in the Big Ten with a New Year's trip to Pasadena, however, isn't what it used to be. The powerful offense puts the Badgers in the BCS title debate, but lingering questions about the defense keep them on the outside looking in.


Coach Bret Bielema (7th year)

60--19 (33--15 Big Ten)

2011 Record 11--3 (6--2, T-1 in Big Ten Leaders)

Final AP Rank 10

Returning Starters Offense 5, Defense 6

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 469.9 YPG (14)

Rushing Offense 235.6 YPG (11)

Passing Offense 234.3 YPG (61)

Total Defense 316.4 YPG (15)

Rushing Defense 152.8 YPG (60)

Passing Defense 163.6 YPG (4)


Touchdowns scored by Montee Ball over his last 20 games. His 39 total scores last year tied Barry Sanders's NCAA FBS single season record.



RB Montee Ball

Sr., 5'11", 212 pounds

1,923 YDs, 39 TDs

LT Ricky Wagner

Sr., 6'6", 322 pounds

14 starts

WR Jacob Pederson

Jr., 6'4", 242 pounds

30 recs, 356 YDs


LB Chris Borland

Jr., 5'11", 250 pounds

143 tackles, 2½ sacks

DE Brendan Kelly

Sr., 6'6", 255 pounds 35 tackles, 3 sacks

CB Devin Smith

Sr., 5'11", 190 pounds

30 tackles, 1 INT.*

Special Teams

KR-PR Jared Abbrederis

Jr., 6'2", 180 pounds

24.6 kick RET AVG

*2010 stats



First comes the hammer of the Badgers' massive line, then comes the wrecking Ball, who's added 10 pounds of muscle.



Borland was second in the Big Ten in tackles last year, but the Badgers' defense faltered at crucial moments.