Big Ten: Philip Welch
Big Ten players are on both lists, so let's take a look.
2012 NFL DRAFT
- Wisconsin's Bradie Ewing, No. 1 fullback
- Iowa's Reilly Reiff, No. 2 offensive tackle
- Ohio State's Mike Adams, No. 4 offensive tackle
- Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, No. 4 guard
- Wisconsin's Peter Konz, No. 1 center
- Ohio State's Mike Brewster, No. 2 center
- Michigan's David Molk, No. 3 center
- Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, No. 4 defensive end
- Penn State's Devon Still, No. 1 defensive tackle
- Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, No. 5 defensive tackle
- Nebraska's Lavonte David, No. 3 outside linebacker
- Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, No. 4 cornerback
- Wisconsin's Philip Welch, No. 2 kicker
- Illinois' Derek Dimke, No. 4 kicker
- Iowa's Eric Guthrie, No. 5 punter
TOP RETURNING SENIORS BY POSITION
- Wisconsin's Montee Ball, No. 1 running back
- Ohio State's Zach Boren, No. 2 fullback
- Penn State's Mike Zordich, No. 4 fullback
- Michigan's Denard Robinson, No. 2 wide receiver
- Ohio State's Jake Stoneburner, No. 4 tight end
- Nebraska's Kyler Reed, No. 5 tight end
- Wisconsin's Ricky Wagner, No. 1 offensive tackle
- Illinois' Graham Pocic, No. 2 center
- Ohio State's John Simon, No. 2 defensive end
- Purdue's Kawann Short, No. 1 defensive tackle
- Penn State's Jordan Hill, No. 5 defensive tackle
- Penn State's Gerald Hodges, No. 3 outside linebacker
- Iowa's Micah Hyde, No. 3 cornerback
- Michigan State's Dan Conroy, No. 5 kicker
- Nebraska's Brett Maher, No. 3 punter
In order to understand all the storylines and key matchups of this week's game, it's crucial to know exactly what happened the first time. So I decided to go back and watch that initial encounter and, with apologies to Bill Simmons, provide my thoughts and observations in a retro diary. You can follow along through the magic of ESPN3.com here. Or you can just read.
This first installment will cover the first half of the game. I'll be back later on today with the second-half diary. Wonder if anything cool will happen late in the game?
- Kirk Herbstreit says, "This is what we've all wanted to see for a number of weeks." I think the same line could be used Saturday night.
- Michigan State's Keith Nichol is one of the first Spartans to come out of the tunnel for introductions. I've got a hunch he could play a role in this one somehow.
- I don't know how good the audio quality is on my replay, but it sounds extremely quiet when Wisconsin takes the field. No boos, just silence. Someone who was there will have to tell me if that's how it really went down at Spartan Stadium. If so, I think that's the best way to taunt an opponent; just ignore them. I recommend this for all home fans from here on out.
- 15:00: Wisconsin wins the toss and takes the ball first. The first play of the game is a handoff to Montee Ball, who runs 8 yards before plowing into Isaiah Lewis's shoulder. Lewis goes down and has to leave the game. Remember, Lewis gave the Badgers some major bulletin board material the week before after beating Michigan, saying the Spartans defense "was going to hurt" Russell Wilson. You think Ball remembered that as he slammed into Lewis?
- 12:03: Russell Wilson throws his first pass -- complete to Jacob Pedersen -- after four straight Ball runs have softened up the defense. Lewis comes back in.
- 8:48: On third-and-4, Wilson play-fakes to Ball and throws a touchdown pass to a wide-open Pedersen with Anthony Rashad White and Marcus Rush bearing down on the quarterback. That was the second straight completion off play-action for Wilson, as Michigan State's safeties and linebackers are biting hard on the run. It's a textbook, 80-yard Wisconsin style drive with almost perfect balance. The game could not have started off better for the Badgers. 7-0, Wisconsin
- 8:33: Uh-oh for Sparty. Tailback Edwin Baker fumbles on Michigan State's first offensive play, thanks to a hit from linebacker Mike Taylor. The officials review whether or not Wisconsin's Marcus Cromartie touched the ball first while coming from out of bounds on the recovery, but the play stands and the Badgers take over.
- 7:42: Wisconsin needs only three plays to cash in the fumble, as Ball rushes up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown. 14-0, Wisconsin. Wilson completed another pass off play-action immediately before. It was not a good series for Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson, who was fooled on the play-fake and then broke the wrong way before unsuccessfully trying to arm tackle Ball. Hey, the Badgers might win this game in a blowout!
- 3:47: Michigan State picks up a pair of first downs but can't convert a third-and-14 and has to punt. At least its defense got a little bit of a breather, but if Wisconsin goes in for another score this one could get out of hand early.
- 0:33: And we have our first Badgers mistake. After the offense drove to midfield, Wilson throws an interception to -- guess who? -- Robinson. It's only the second interception of the year for Wilson, who threw his other one on a meaningless play late in the Northern Illinois blowout. But I don't put this one entirely on him. Receiver Nick Toon appears to break the wrong way on the route, and he doesn't even start to look for the ball until it's nearly over his head. Remember that Toon missed the previous game with a foot injury he suffered two weeks earlier against Nebraska. He looked a little rusty/anxious, especially as he drew an uncharacteristic false start penalty later in the half. But the play was set up by a loss of 1 yard by James White on first down. The second-and-long prompted offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to put Wilson in the shotgun and not use play-action, allowing the safeties to stick in pass coverage. Even if Wilson and Toon had been on the same page, it was a low-percentage throw into double coverage, and that's not Wisconsin's game.
- 0:26: I love, love, love the fact that Wilson sprints down the field and actually makes the tackle on Robinson, even though his form could use a little work.
- 0:18: Michigan State, which has negative-9 rushing yards to this point, finally gets something going on the ground. The Spartans wide receivers blow up the right side of Wisconsin's defense, and Le'Veon Bell rushes 32 yards behind tackle Fou Fonoti, who's dying to find someone to block. Momentum seems to be changing.
- 14:15: Kirk Cousins and Larry Caper can't quite connect for a screen pass on third-and-6, which was set up perfectly and might have resulted in an easy touchdown. The Spartans have another empty possession. But Bell's big run has flipped field position, leading to ...
- 14:04: Mike Sadler punts the ball out of bounds at the Wisconsin 5. We didn't mention Sadler when we talked about freshmen of the year candidates in the Big Ten, but he has been a valuable weapon for Mark Dantonio all year long.
- 13:58 to 13:10: Disaster strikes for Wisconsin. First, Jerel Worthy finally makes his presence felt, stuffing Ball for a 3-yard loss back to the 2. Then Wilson is called for intentional grounding in the end zone under heavy pressure from Denicos Allen. That's a safety, and it's now 14-2, Wisconsin. Chryst dialed up play-action again and looked to be going for a big throw over the top. But the call actually helped Michigan State, because the linebackers darted up field to stop the run. Ball has had an amazing season, but he whiffed on Allen to let "The Waterboy" get right to Wilson, who had little choice but to throw it away. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, there was no receiver on the side of the field where Wilson could get rid of the ball.
- 11:22: Razzle, meet dazzle. After a beautiful throw from Cousins to tight end Brian Linthicum, Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar dials up some trickery. The Spartans line up in the I-formation. Cousins fakes a handoff to Bell, then hands it to receiver B.J. Cunningham on a reverse. Cunningham then pitches it to Keshawn Martin coming the other way. Wisconsin blitzed to the side Martin is now running toward, leaving no one left to tackle the Spartans' speedster except safety Aaron Henry. And he's sandwiched by three blockers. Martin scores from 34 yards out to make the score 14-9, Wisconsin. Martin has been on fire the latter part of this season.
- 8:41: Wisconsin's offense mounts a good drive in response, and receiver Jared Abbrederis takes a jet sweep 21 yards. It's no coincidence that Abbrederis runs to the side where suspended defensive end William Gholston would have been. The Badgers have been attacking his replacement, Denzel Drone. Gholston's return is a big factor in this week's game.
- 7:49 to 7:22: A tough sequence here for Ball. First, he misses another block, allowing cornerback Johnny Adams to blow up a play when he tackles Wilson from behind. Then he takes a Robinson shoulder to the head after a 7-yard run. Ball gets up from the tackle and then falls back down in a scary scene. He's escorted off the field and is given concussion tests on the sideline as Wisconsin fans hold their breath. Ball has 68 yards rushing and a touchdown when he goes out.
- 6:42: On third-and-short from the Michigan State 14, White is stopped shy of the first down when Kyler Elsworth sheds a Pedersen block and makes the tackle. Great defensive play. No disrespect to White, but it makes you wonder if Ball would have gotten the extra few feet had he been in the game.
- 5:55: Philip Welch's 30-yard field goal try is blocked by Darqueze Dennard, who ran in free from the left end. I'm not sure if Welch would have made the kick anyway, because Brad Nortman bobbled the snap, which disrupted the timing of the play. Wisconsin converted 62 of 65 trips in the red zone into points this season, second best in the FBS. But it comes up empty in a big spot here.
- 1:40: Michigan State moves the ball down the field, but Baker is tackled for a loss to set up fourth-and-2 from the Wisconsin 35. Dantonio doesn't hesitate to go for it, and Roushar calls a great, if somewhat risky, play. Cousins waits for Cunningham to find a hole behind the linebackers in a long-developing route. But Wisconsin doesn't get any pressure on Cousins, and he hits Cunningham in the middle of three Badgers defenders. Taylor misses a tackle in a difficult matchup for him, and Cunningham is off for a touchdown to make it 16-14, Michigan State. It's the second straight year that Cunningham catches a fourth-down touchdown pass in a key spot. Think Wisconsin will know where he is if a big fourth down comes up again Saturday? The game's final play got all the attention, but this was just as big.
- 0:45: Complete catastrophe for the Badgers. A fired up Spartans defense forces a three and out at Wisconsin 45, and then backup linebacker Ellsworth makes his second huge play of the game. He blocks Nortman's punt, and Bennie Fowler recovers the ball in the end zone to make it 23-14 Michigan State. The Spartans brought four defenders untouched up the middle against Wisconsin's three-man punt protection unit, and Ellsworth flew right by Robert Burge. In Burge's defense, middle protector Ryan Groy was slow to pick up his block, and Burge looked like he couldn't decide whether to chip Ellsworth or help on Kurtis Drummond right up the gut. "It was nothing special we haven't seen on film," Bret Bielema will tell Erin Andrews at halftime. "We've just got to block all four."
- 0:00: The half mercifully ends for Wisconsin as Spartan Stadium is rocking. In a 15-minute span from the end of the first quarter to the final score of the half, the Badgers threw an interception, gave up a safety, had a field goal blocked, had a punt blocked for a touchdown, allowed a touchdown pass on fourth down and surrendered another score on a trick play. In basketball terms, it's a 23-0 spurt. Things can't get any worse for Wisconsin, or better for Michigan State. Can they?
Our teams consist only of Big Ten players and units, and earlier Thursday, we held a draft. We'll track our teams throughout the season, making adjustments if need be, and then see who comes out on top. The winner gets the old Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Neither of us are fantasy football experts, but we do have a pretty good grasp on Big Ten talent, and we thought this would be a fun feature this season.
First, the team names.
Rittenberg: The Trombone Shorties
We flipped a coin and Bennett won, earning the right to pick first.
Here's how the draft went down:
No. 1 (Bennett): Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Rationale: The first rule of thumb in fantasy football is to grab a dominant running back. Ball scored 18 touchdowns last season and looked even better in camp this year. I'd say that's dominant.
No. 2 (Rittenberg): Iowa RB Marcus Coker
Rationale: Ball was dominant, Bennett, but he also shares carries with James White, while Coker is in position to be Iowa's featured back. He's a bruiser who showed in the Insight Bowl he can do special things. The next Shonn Greene, perhaps?
No. 3 (Rittenberg): Wisconsin RB James White
Rationale: Speaking of White, I'm picking him here because he brings explosiveness to the backfield. Any time he touches the ball, he can go to the house, whether it's on a rush, a reception or a return.
No. 4 (Bennett): Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Rationale: The guy who led the Big Ten in total offense and who accounted for 32 touchdowns is still available for the No. 4 pick? Yes, please.
No. 5 (Bennett): Michigan State RB Edwin Baker
Rationale: I fill out my backfield with the Big Ten's leading returning rusher among tailbacks. Baker has pledged to increase his 1,201 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. I'd be happy with a repeat of those numbers.
No. 6 (Rittenberg): Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Rationale: You want numbers? Scheelhaase accounted for 22 touchdowns last season (17 pass, 5 rush). He's a tremendous athlete who has made strides as a passer during the offseason and plays behind one of the Big Ten's best lines. Get ready for the points parade in Champaign.
No. 7 (Rittenberg): Iowa WR Marvin McNutt
Rationale: McNutt has made big plays throughout his career, and he'll continue to do so as Iowa's clear-cut No. 1 receiver this season. He's a bona fide NFL prospect with eight touchdown receptions in each of the past two years.
No. 8 (Bennett): Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Rationale: My passing numbers might not be the greatest with Shoelace and T-Magic as my quarterbacks, but man will I ever churn out the points for rushing.
No. 9 (Bennett): Northwestern WR Jeremy Ebert
Rationale: Needed a receiver here and was happy to take the guy who led the league in receiving yards per game a year ago. Now I just need a healthy Dan Persa to get him the ball.
No. 10 (Rittenberg): Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins
Rationale: Cousins once again has plenty of weapons at his disposal. He threw 20 touchdown passes in 2010 despite being limited by injuries in the second half of the season.
No. 11 (Rittenberg): Penn State WR Derek Moye
Rationale: I'm taking another big-play receiver in Moye, who averaged 16.7 yards a catch in 2010 and scored eight touchdowns. He'll be even better this season with more polished quarterbacks throwing to him.
No. 12 (Bennett): Indiana WR Damarlo Belcher
Rationale: Took a slight flier on Belcher, but I think he can put up huge numbers in Kevin Wilson's offense. He needs to do better than last year's four TD catches, and I believe he will.
No. 13 (Bennett): Nebraska defense
Rationale: Defense. Nebraska. 'Nuff said.
No. 14 (Rittenberg): Ohio State defense
Rationale: The Buckeyes' defense is as reliable as beer and brats at Big Ten tailgates. Until proven otherwise, I'm taking a group that limits yards and points and forces takeaways with the nation's best.
No. 15 (Rittenberg): Michigan State kickers
Rationale: Special teams vaulted Michigan State to a Big Ten co-championship in 2010. Stud kicker Dan Conroy returns after missing only one field goal attempt and one extra point try all season.
No. 16 (Bennett): Wisconsin kickers
Rationale: So what if Philip Welch is hurt? Even if I'm only getting PATs, that will come in handy in those games when Bret Bielema's bunch is scoring 70 or 80 points.
Here are the teams ...
THE TROMBONE SHORTIES
QB: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
QB: Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
RB: Marcus Coker, Iowa
RB: James White, Wisconsin
WR: Marvin McNutt, Iowa
WR: Derek Moye, Penn State
Defense: Ohio State
Kickers: Michigan State
QB: Denard Robinson, Michigan
QB: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
RB: Edwin Baker, Michigan State
WR: Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern
WR: Damarlo Belcher, Indiana
Who do you think has the edge?
- Ron Zook praised quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase for his development. "He seems to be picking up more and more of the offense," Zooks said. "And the more he learns, the quicker he is. He's taken another step not only with his play but with the way he's led this team as well."
- Despite the loss of Mikel Leshoure to the NFL draft, Zook expects the Illini running game to keep on trucking and had positive words for starting tailback Jason Ford. "He had a great offseason and got his weight down to where he was as a freshman," Zook said. Zook also likes what he sees out of freshmen Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson at the position. "One thing in the Big Ten is, you'd better have more than one running back," he said. "We feel very fortunate that we've got a few guys who should help us maintain what we've done in terms of rushing."
- Junior linebacker Ashante Williams, who was suspended following a DUI arrest, is back practicing with the team and working on the scout unit. Zook said he wants Williams, who is a semester away from graduation, to earn his degree. He hasn't made a decision on when or if Williams might play for the Illini.
- Ticket sales have not exactly been robust so far, but Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson says playing the opener against Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis should help both teams. "I'm interested to see if the fan bases come out to support both programs," he said. "Is it an advantage? I don't know. [But] I think it's a great opportunity for both teams to energize their teams."
- With less than a week before the opener, Wilson said the staff still hasn't decided on a starting quarterback between Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. "Really, down the stretch, we're trying to decide which young man we think will manage the game, keep us out of turnovers and keep us in positive situations." He added that he's "really intrigued" by true freshman Tre Roberson. "He's very athletic, but at the same time he's a little overwhelmed," Wilson said. "I do think he can add to the mix as we go through the season."
- The Buckeyes won't have permanent captains this year. Instead, they will name game captains each week. Center Mike Brewster, right tackle J.B. Shugarts and defensive tackle John Simon will be captains for this week's Akron game. Luke Fickell said he decided to do it this way to show his senior leaders that "we need every single one of them."
- Fickell confirmed that offensive lineman Corey Linsley has been suspended for the first game and said Linsley may also miss Week 2 against Toledo. Starting linebacker Etienne Sabino is expected to play despite breaking his left hand during training camp.
- While quarterback gets the most attention, the Nittany Lions haven't named a starter yet at right guard, either. John Urschel and Johnnie Troutman are still battling it out and Joe Paterno said he doesn't know who will get the call. Paterno called offensive line depth one of his main concerns, much more so than the quarterback situation.
- Paterno confirmed that punter/kicker Anthony Fera is suspended for an alcohol-related arrest earlier this month, but he didn't divulge how long the suspension would last.
- Paterno was asked about his former assistant, Al Golden, and the task that now faces him at scandal-ridden Miami. "Al's got a tough job on his hands right now," Paterno said. "I'm sure when everything settles down at Miami and he gets a hold of the problems and starts to resolve them and cure them, that he'll do well. But it's going to take a little while, if what people are saying is true. If it can be done, Al will get it done."
- Head coach Danny Hope has named Caleb TerBush his starting quarterback for the Middle Tennessee game in the wake of Rob Henry's torn ACL. Hope says the team is confident in TerBush, a junior who has played in only one career game. "He's far along," Hope said. "He's tall, he puts a lot of velocity on the ball, he's accurate and he's competitive." Though TerBush is 6-foot-6, Hope said he can run the ball and could even mix in some option plays.
- Robert Marve still isn't practicing as he recovers from last year's knee surgery, but Hope said Marve should be ready in the next couple of weeks. "We're optimistic he can help our football team sometime soon this season," Hope said.
- In some much-needed good injury news, the Boilermakers are happy with the way running back Ralph Bolden has returned from two knee surgeries. "It's been a real blessing," Hope said. "I didn't know what to expect, really. ... It doesn't look like he's lost anything to me. He's very fast, very sharp, very sudden. He's making people miss, is very confident on his cuts and is finishing runs." Hope said Bolden consistently punched the ball into the end zone during some goal line drills against the No. 1 defense this month. " He looks like one of the best players on our team again right now," he said.
- Redshirt freshman Kyle French will be pressed into field-goal duties on Thursday against UNLV, as regular kicker Philip Welch hasn't healed from a quadriceps injury. Head coach Bret Bielema said French is a "no-nonsense kid" who should be able to handle the situation. Bielema said he would rely on holder Brad Nortman to find out what French can do. "I usually lean on my holder," he said. "We'll come up with a number we feel he's good to kick from and hopefully just move forward."
- Bielema said he's never sensed this much hype around the Badgers during his time with the program. Wisconsin is ranked No. 10 in the coaches poll and is a favorite to win the Big Ten. He said he noticed it during training camp, when media requests for interviews poured in from around the country. "It's fun and I think it's a sign of respect," he said. "I tried to emphasize to our players that right now the story about Wisconsin is a good thing. There's not a lot of negativity around our program. A lot of things going around college football have stayed out of Madison. I like the character and the kids we have. Hopefully, it doesn't go to their heads."
- The series with UNLV comes to an end this year, but Bielema said the Badgers are interested in signing another deal with the Rebels. "Wisconsin people always need an excuse to run to Vegas," he said. "I think they love doing it."
Wisconsin had few surprises on its Week 1 depth chart, starting with the quarterback position.
NC State transfer Russell Wilson is listed as the Badgers’ No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, released Monday night. Sophomore Jon Budmayr, who has been battling elbow problems and could need surgery, is listed as the backup.
Wilson has taken most of the reps with the first-team offense during preseason practice, drawing excellent reviews from his coaches, teammates and media members allowed to watch the workouts. He started the past three seasons for NC State and was named runner-up for ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2010. Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns with 26 interceptions in his NC State career.
Wisconsin players voted Wilson a co-captain for the season even though the quarterback only joined the team in early July.
Other notes from the Badgers’ depth chart:
- Josh Oglesby is listed as the starter at right tackle ahead of freshman Rob Havenstein.
- Junior Shelton Johnson has won the starting strong safety spot after competing with Dezmen Southward throughout camp. He’ll play alongside Aaron Henry.
- Sophomore Ethan Hemer is listed as a starting defensive tackle ahead of classmate Jordan Kohout.
- Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie are listed as co-starters at cornerback opposite All-Big Ten selection Antonio Fenelus. Smith entered camp with the inside track for the job but has been pushed by Cromartie, a talented junior.
- Two other co-starters are listed: running backs Montee Ball and James White (no surprise) and kickers Philip Welch and Kyle French. Welch, a three-year starter, has been battling a pulled quad muscle in his kicking leg and might not be ready for the opener.
- White also is listed as a starting kick returner with receiver Jared Abbrederis. Is this too risky with the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year? Perhaps, but Wisconsin could use White’s speed as it replaces David Gilreath.
Let's take a look.
1. Derek Dimke, Illinois, senior: Dimke had a terrific junior season, converting a league-high 24 field goals on 29 attempts. He also was perfect on extra-point tries, going 43-for-43, and led the Big Ten with 22 touchbacks. Dimke earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and will be on the radar for the Lou Groza Award this fall.
2. Dan Conroy, Michigan State, junior: Thanks to Conroy, the loss of standout kicker Brett Swenson didn't sting too much for the Spartans. Conroy led the Big Ten in field-goal percentage, converting 14 of 15 opportunities, and missed only one of his 46 extra-point tries. Conroy earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors for his efforts.
3. Philip Welch, Wisconsin, senior: Doesn't it seem like Welch has been at Wisconsin for a decade? The three-year starter enters his final season in Madison after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2010. Welch was perfect on 67 extra-point attempts last fall and went 17-for-22 on field-goal attempts.
4. Carson Wiggs, Purdue, senior: There's no doubt as to who has the strongest leg in the Big Ten, if not the country. Wiggs can connect from just about anywhere, as he showed in April during Purdue's spring game with a 67-yard field goal. His leg strength gets the attention, but Wiggs is a little underrated as an overall kicker. He connected on 15 of 19 attempts in 2010, going 4-for-4 between 40 and 49 yards, and had 11 touchbacks as Purdue led the Big Ten in kickoff coverage.
5. Mitch Ewald, Indiana, sophomore: Ewald had an excellent freshman season for the Hoosiers, capitalizing on limited opportunities. He finished fourth in the league in field-goal percentage, connecting on 16 of 19 attempts, and he was perfect on 33 extra-point tries. Ewald had five games with multiple field goals and will once again be a big weapon for IU this fall.
1. Brad Nortman, Wisconsin, senior: Like Welch, Nortman has been a fixture in Madison the past four years and enters 2011 as the league's most experienced punter by far. Nortman averaged 42.7 yards per punt in 2010, blasting eight punts of 50 yards or more and placing 14 punts inside the 20-yard line. He has averaged 42.1 yards per punt during his career.
2. Anthony Fera, Penn State, sophomore: Fera had an excellent freshman season for Penn State, which improved in punt coverage and other special teams areas. He averaged 41.4 yards per punt, placed 13 punts inside the opponents' 20 and had nine punts of 50 yards or longer. Fera also forced 19 fair catches.
3. Cody Webster, Purdue, sophomore: Webster helped Purdue address a need at punter and turned in an excellent freshman season. He finished fifth in the Big Ten in punting average (43.3 ypp), booming 17 punts of 50 yards or longer and placing 12 inside the opponents' 20.
4. Will Hagerup, Michigan, sophomore: Hagerup was the lone bright spot for Michigan's special teams in 2010. He started 10 games and ranked fourth in the Big Ten in punting average (43.6 ypp), a mark that ranked second in team history (minimum of 30 attempts). He placed 11 punts inside the 20.
5. Ben Buchanan, Ohio State, junior: Ohio State needs to be sharper in the kicking game this fall, and Buchanan will play a huge role. He averaged 41 yards on 44 attempts in 2010, placing 15 punts inside the opponents' 20 and forcing 17 fair catches. Expect Buchanan to take another step in his development this season.
1. Troy Stoudermire, Minnesota, senior: Already a record-setting return man, Stoudermire needs only 16 kick returns and 189 kick return yards to set NCAA all-time records in both categories. Stoudermire has 2,929 kick return yards, recording 30 runbacks or more in each of the past three seasons. He averaged 27.2 yards on returns in 2010.
2. Jordan Hall, Ohio State, junior: Hall is likely the Big Ten's best all-around returner. He finished second in the league in kick return average (27.9 ypr) and third in punt return average (9.9 ypr). Hall really emerged as Ohio State's go-to return man last season. It will be interesting to see if his return responsibilities change at all depending on who emerges as the Buckeyes' top running back.
3. Keshawn Martin, Michigan State, senior: Expect teams to punt the ball away from Martin this fall. He led the Big Ten and ranked 11th nationally in punt return average (14.2 ypr). His touchdown return against Wisconsin set the stage for Michigan State's come-from-behind win. Martin's kick return average of 17.8 yards should increase this fall.
4. Venric Mark, Northwestern, sophomore: For the first time in recent memory, Northwestern has a true difference maker in the return game. Mark came on strong late in his freshman year, finishing fourth in the league in kick return average (26.2 ypr) with a touchdown runback against Wisconsin. He also showed promise as a punt returner, averaging 12.9 yards on nine attempts.
5. Jaamal Berry, Ohio State, sophomore: Berry forms a dangerous Buckeye return tandem with Hall. He finished fifth in the league in kick return average (25.4 ypr) but had three more attempts than Hall. Berry clearly has big-play skills as a running back, so don't be surprised if he breaks off some big returns this fall.
For this ranking, we're going to consider punters, kickers and returners only. No offense to the long-snappers or the punt-team gunners, but things like kickoff coverage units are hard to forecast. We'll give a little extra weight to teams that have returning and proven players at these spots, because it's difficult to know how new punters and kickers will fare when the pressure of real games begin.
As the guys in these positions would say, let's kick it:
2. Wisconsin: The Badgers are set at both punter and kicker, with seniors Brad Nortman and Philip Welch, respectively. Both are third-year starters who can be relied upon. Wisconsin will need to find a replacement for primary return man David Gilreath.
3. Penn State: The Nittany Lions bring back punter Anthony Fera and punt returner Devon Smith, who finished just behind Martin in yards per attempt last season. Chaz Powell and Stephfon Green are dangerous kick returners. Fera could move over to handle field goals this season if incoming freshman Sam Ficken doesn't win the job.
4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have a veteran punter in senior Ben Buchanan and two threats to take a kick to the house in Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry. Sophomore Drew Basil is expected to take over at place-kicker. Special teams are almost always a force in Columbus.
5. Purdue: No one in the league has a bigger leg than Carson Wiggs; the questions is whether he can consistently harness it. Punter Cody Webster averaged 43.3 yards per attempt last season, second best among returning punters. The Boilermakers' return game needs to improve.
6. Illinois: Derek Dimke was a Lou Groza semifinalist last season and broke the school record for points by a kicker. He nailed two 50-plus yarders. Ray Guy semifinalist Anthony Santella is gone, though return man Troy Pollard is back.
7. Northwestern: Brandon Williams improved at punter as his freshman year went along last season. The Wildcats at long last have an elite return option in Venric Mark. But place-kicker was a concern this spring, with Jeff Budzien and Steve Flaherty competing for the job.
8. Iowa: Kirk Ferentz's teams usually find a way to be good on special teams, so odds are the Hawkeyes will climb these rankings. But they lost a lot from 2010, including Ray Guy finalist and four-year starter Ryan Donahue, plus both primary return men. Eric Guthrie held the edge at punter after the spring. Place-kicker Mike Meyer returns after taking over that role for the final 10 games and doing a solid job.
9. Indiana: Mitch Ewald was named to the Groza watch list after a strong freshman year in which he made 16 of 19 field goals. Chris Hagerup needs to increase his punting average of 39.4 yards. The Hoosiers should have enough athletes to replace Tandon Doss on returns.
10. Minnesota: Dan Orseske's 36.1-yard average was worst among starting Big Ten punters in 2010, so that must get better. Jerry Kill must also find a new place-kicker -- NC State transfer Chris Hawthorne looks like the top option. Troy Stoudermire, one of the league's top return specialists, is back for his senior year.
11. Nebraska: Like Iowa, this is a team that will almost assuredly outperform this ranking. But boy did the Huskers lose a lot of talent and experience. It will be difficult to match the value that punter/kicker Alex Henery brought -- Brett Maher and freshman Mauro Bondi will battle to replace him -- and Adi Kunalic was a secret weapon as kickoff specialist. Top returner Niles Pau is gone, too. The Cornhuskers will likely reload, but nobody has bigger shoes to fill at these positions in the Big Ten.
12. Michigan: The kicking game looked like a disaster this spring, with neither Seth Broekhuizen nor Brendan Gibbons inspiring confidence. Incoming freshman Matt Wile might win the job this summer. This could prove to be an Achilles' heel for the Wolverines, as it was a year ago. On the plus side, Will Hagerup is the leading returning punter in the Big Ten, though he had only 33 attempts last season.
Quite a few Big Ten players made the rundown, and there were some surprises.
Let's check it out.
No. 2 quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
No. 2 running back: Dan Herron, Ohio State
No. 2 fullback: Bradie Ewing, Wisconsin
No. 5 fullback: Joe Suhey, Penn State
No. 1 guard: Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
No. 1 center: Michael Brewster, Ohio State
No. 5 center: David Molk, Michigan
No. 5 defensive end: Vince Browne, Northwestern
No. 1 defensive tackle: Jared Crick, Nebraska
No. 5 defensive tackle: Devon Still, Penn State
No. 1 inside linebacker: Lavonte David, Nebraska
No. 2 cornerback: Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
No. 3 kicker: Derek Dimke, Illinois
No. 4 kicker: Philip Welch, Wisconsin
No. 4 running back: Edwin Baker, Michigan State
No. 3 fullback: Zach Boren, Ohio State
No. 3 tight end: Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State
No. 3 offensive tackle: Riley Reiff, Iowa
No. 4 offensive tackle: Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
No. 1 center: Peter Konz, Wisconsin
No. 1 defensive tackle: Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
No. 3 defensive tackle: Kawann Short, Purdue
No. 4 defensive tackle: John Simon, Ohio State
No. 5 defensive tackle: Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska
No. 4 outside linebacker: Craig Roh, Michigan
No. 2 kicker: Dan Conroy, Michigan State
No. 4 punter: Ben Buchanan, Ohio State
Thoughts: Some interesting selections for both classes. Players like Cousins, Herron, Stoneburner and Roh project a little higher than I thought they would. Players like Molk and Reiff came in a little lower than I thought. Several players I expected to see but didn't include: Ohio State senior LT Mike Adams, Michigan DT Mike Martin, Illinois senior LT Jeff Allen, Penn State senior WR Derek Moye, Nebraska junior TE Kyler Reed, Penn State junior LB Michael Mauti and Iowa senior CB Shaun Prater. The Big Ten is absolutely loaded at defensive tackle, especially in the junior class. The league also continues to dominate the fullback position -- no surprise there.
Let's take a closer look:
Game coverage: Here and here and here and here.
Quotable: "We were without four, possibly five, offensive starters, so the continuity of that group was thrown off a little bit. I really like the offensive line depth we've been able to develop. On the back end, the defensive side, I was really concerned about the safety position, but Shelton Johnson, Aaron Henry and Dezmen Southward are three guys who can really give us some ability that I didn't know was going to be there." -- coach Bret Bielema
- It was a rough day for Wisconsin's quarterback position both on and off the field. The Badgers' top three signal-callers -- junior Jon Budmayr, redshirt freshman Joe Brennan and true freshman Joel Stave -- combined to complete just 22 of 61 pass attempts (36.1 percent) for 241 yards with no touchdowns, three interceptions and a fumble. The offense failed to reach the end zone and managed only one scoring drive, resulting in a field goal. Budmayr, the front-runner to be the starter this season, completed 10 of 23 passes for 113 yards with an interception and a lost fumble. "The three guys that got the majority of the reps today aren't anywhere where we need them to be for us to be a competitive team in the fall," Bielema said. "They need to continue to move forward." Bielema revealed after the game that quarterback Curt Phillips, a potential challenger to Budmayr, will miss the 2011 season following his third knee surgery.
- Although the offense played without several starters, the top defense turned in an encouraging performance. The pass rush was solid as ends David Gilbert and Louis Nzegwu both recorded two tackles for loss and a sack. "Our D-line, we're winning," Gilbert said. "As long as we're winning, that’s what matters." Linebacker Marcus Trotter finished an impressive spring with five tackles and a forced fumble, and starting cornerback Devin Smith had an interception and four tackles.
- The run game averaged only 2.6 yards per attempt, although Wisconsin's top two backs had their moments. James White led the way with 47 rush yards on eight carries, including gains of 22 yards and 17 yards. Montee Ball finished with 33 rush yards on eight carries, while third-stringer Zach Brown also had 33 rush yards. "Today probably wasn’t the best performance but we'll be even better come fall," White said. "We have a lot of confidence as an offense. We have a few people banged up and that can mess with things but we're still getting better."
- Kicker Philip Welch had a mixed performance in the game. He went 8-for-8 during two separate kicking segments on attempts between 27-61 yards, hitting from 58 and 61 yards out. But during the team portion of the game, Welch missed attempts from 38, 49 and 52 yards. "He's got to be able to handle the pressure, he's got to be consistent with where we're at," Bielema said.
Special teams has hurt Wisconsin a bit as Philip Welch just missed a field goal, and the defense has looked overmatched against Andy Dalton and TCU. The Badgers' defense is the one non-elite unit in this game. If it doesn't meet the challenge against Dalton and his weapons, Wisconsin will be in major trouble.
I still really like the offensive game plan, and if Wisconsin can stay out of third-and-long, it should score enough. But Dalton has looked unstoppable so far, and someone needs to make a play on the Badgers' defense.
Wisconsin trails 14-10 midway through the second quarter.
They mixed in running backs Montee Ball and James White, used the clock and got good results.
Ball's 40-yard burst on the opening play sets a good tone for Wisconsin, as the right side of the line opened up a huge hole. Wisconsin also went to the run out of the shotgun, something we didn't see too much of during the regular season. I'd still like to see John Clay early in this game, but Ball and White looked good on the drive.
The Badgers' big key is to execute on obvious passing situations, which is never easy. Nick Toon has to be ready for the pass from Scott Tolzien, which would have set up first-and-goal.
Wisconsin leads 3-0 early in the first quarter.
Team of the Week: Northwestern. There are two guarantees with Northwestern football in the last decade or so. Every season, the Wildcats drop a game they shouldn't and pull off an upset, usually against Iowa. After stumbling against short-handed Purdue in early October, the Wildcats continued their trend by upsetting then-No. 13 Iowa on Saturday. Northwestern blew an early lead, which is nothing new this season, but this time Pat Fitzgerald's crew rallied in the fourth quarter behind star quarterback Dan Persa and others. Persa led two fourth-quarter scoring drives and Northwestern held on to beat Iowa for the fifth time in the teams' last six meetings. The victory ensures that Northwestern will record three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1958-60.
Biggest play: Several come to mind, including Persa's 20-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Fields to give Northwestern the lead for good. Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire gave his team new life in the fourth quarter with a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a touchdown. But my pick took place at The Shoe. Ohio State led Penn State 17-14 early in the fourth quarter when Terrelle Pryor heaved a deep pass to receiver DeVier Posey, who couldn't haul it in but tipped the ball. Fellow wideout Dane Sanzenbacher swooped in to grab the deflection for a 58-yard touchdown. Ohio State went on to a 38-14 romp.
Specialist spotlight: Minnesota's much-maligned special teams units deserve credit after Saturday's win. Stoudermire's kick return was huge, and the Gophers also got a 45-yard field goal from Eric Ellestad and three punts placed inside the Illinois 20-yard line by Dan Orseske. Northwestern and Iowa both were brilliant on kickoffs and punts, as Stefan Demos and Michael Meyer combined for eight touchbacks and Brandon Williams and Ryan Donahue combined to place four punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Both teams finished with zero return yards. Purdue's Carson Wiggs continued his strong season by going 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, while Wisconsin's Philip Welch went 2-for-2. Punters Anthony Fera of Penn State and Ben Buchanan of Ohio State both had good performances at Ohio Stadium.
Power surge: Wisconsin turned in a historic offensive performance in crushing Indiana on Saturday. The Badgers' 83 points marked the most against a Big Ten team in team history and the highest total in a game during the modern era. It was the most since the Badgers defeated Marquette 85-0 on Oct. 8, 1915. The 83 points scored tied the Big Ten record for scoring in the modern era, as Ohio State put up 83 against Iowa in 1950.
Game balls (given to players on winning or losing teams who didn't receive helmet stickers)
- Wisconsin DEs Louis Nzegwu and J.J. Watt: It wasn't all about the Badgers' offense Saturday, as Nzegwu and Watt combined for four tackles for loss, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a sack against Indiana.
- Ohio State CB Devon Torrence: After getting picked on in the first half, Torrence responded with a pick-six in the third quarter to give Ohio State its first lead against Penn State. He had six tackles, one for loss, in the game.
- Minnesota QB Adam Weber: It hasn't been an easy road for the Gophers senior quarterback, but he had a big role in snapping the team's losing streak Saturday. Weber threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions at Illinois. Also meriting a mention is running back DeLeon Eskridge, who rushed for three touchdowns.
- Michigan LB Obi Ezeh: It has been a bumpy road for Ezeh the last two seasons, but the senior stepped up along with several other Michigan defenders at Purdue. Ezeh recorded a team-high eight tackles, including two for loss and a sack against the Boilers.
- Northwestern S Brian Peters: After some struggles in recent weeks, Peters made several big plays against Iowa, none bigger than an interception early in the fourth quarter that set up Northwestern's rally. He led the Wildcats with 10 tackles and recorded a forced fumble and two pass breakups.
- Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien: The running backs always get top billing at Wisconsin, but Tolzien was nearly flawless against Indiana, completing 15 of 18 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
- Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure: The talented junior running back continues to do his part for the now-slumping Illini. After recording five touchdowns last week at Michigan, Leshoure racked up 141 rush yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries against Minnesota.
Now here's a quick look at Week 12.
Purdue (4-6, 2-4) at No. 12 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1): After an open week, the Spartans resume play with a chance to reach 10 wins for the first time since 1999. It marks the final home game for All-American linebacker Greg Jones, who will take aim at a patchwork Purdue offense. Two of the Big Ten's top defenders share the field in Jones and Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, whose team must win its final two games to become bowl eligible.
No. 7 Wisconsin (9-1, 5-1) at Michigan (7-3, 3-3): The Badgers are riding a five-game win streak and put up 83 points in their last game, but they have really struggled in the state of Michigan and especially at the Big House. Wisconsin hasn't won in Ann Arbor since 1994 and hasn't won in the state since beating Michigan State in 2002 at Spartan Stadium. Michigan has won back-to-back games but needs a much cleaner performance in all three phases to record the upset.
Illinois (5-5, 3-4) vs. Northwestern (7-3, 3-3) at Chicago: Football is back at Wrigley Field for the first time since 1970 and the Illini and Wildcats will play the first college game at the Friendly Confines since 1938. The pageantry takes center stage Saturday, but Illinois still needs a win to become bowl eligible and turn down the heat on coach Ron Zook. Northwestern redshirt freshman Evan Watkins makes his first career start at quarterback.
No. 9 Ohio State (9-1, 5-1) at No. 20 Iowa (7-3, 4-2): The Buckeyes must win out to give themselves a chance at a record-tying sixth consecutive Big Ten title. To do so, they must play better on the road after losing at Wisconsin and struggling at Illinois. Iowa gave Ohio State all it could handle last year in Columbus, and this time the Hawkeyes will have starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi available. It's Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium, where Iowa aims for a signature win to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.
Bye: Minnesota (2-9, 1-6).
You need to be an ESPN Insider member to view the complete files, but here's where Big Ten players stack up:
Kiper's Big Board
- Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn, the first Big Ten player on the board, dropped to No. 8 from No. 5 last week
- Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan held steady at No. 13
- Ohio State DL Cameron Heyward held steady at No. 15
- Ohio State's Brandon Saine is No. 5 among running backs
- Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks is No. 1 among tight ends
- Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is No. 5 among offensive tackles
- Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski is No. 2 among centers (Wisniewski has moved back to guard this year)
- Iowa's Clayborn is No. 1 among defensive ends
- Purdue's Kerrigan is No. 3 among defensive ends
- Ohio State's Heyward is No. 4 among defensive ends
- Michigan State's Greg Jones is No. 1 among inside linebackers
- Ohio State's Ross Homan is No. 4 among outside linebackers
- Iowa's Ryan Donahue is No. 1 among punters
- Penn State's Joe Suhey is No. 4 among fullbacks
- Northwestern's Al Netter is No. 4 among offensive tackles
- Purdue's Ken Plue is No. 5 among guards
- Ohio State's Mike Brewster is No. 1 among centers
- Michigan's David Molk is No. 5 among guards
- Wisconsin's J.J. Watt is No. 4 among defensive ends
- Wisconsin's Philip Welch is No. 3 among kickers
- Purdue's Carson Wiggs is No. 5 among kickers
Interesting selections here from Kiper. I was a bit surprised not to see Carimi higher on his lists, and the Big Ten's senior guards -- Ohio State's Justin Boren, Wisconsin's John Moffitt and Michigan's Stephen Schilling -- were shut out. Penn State fans might be interested to know that former Nittany Lion Pat Devlin ranks as the No. 3 senior quarterback.
The Badgers would have bolstered John Clay's Heisman Trophy candidacy, dominated the line of scrimmage, stormed out to a big lead and exacted revenge on Arizona State quarterback Steven Threet for what he did at Michigan nearly two years ago.
But in the imperfect game of football, Wisconsin had to settle for 60 minutes of resolve.
"There's a handful of plays that determine games, that determine seasons," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said. "Football is a game comprised of four quarters, 15 minutes each, 60 minutes of playing time. But really, it's 60 minutes of reaction.
"Who reacts better to what happens?"
Wisconsin reacted better Saturday, especially in two moments when things seemed dire.
The first came at the end of the opening half. Wisconsin's offense finally had translated yards into points, as Scott Tolzien found Herculean tight end Lance Kendricks in the end zone to claim a 13-10 lead.
Only 10 seconds remained in the half, but Philip Welch botched a squib kick. Arizona State already had one kick return for a touchdown against a Badgers team that ranked 119th nationally in kickoff coverage in 2009.
This time, Sun Devils receiver Kyle Middlebrooks broke into the open field.
"Just watching, I'm like, 'Run Shelton, run Shelton, run Shelton,'" safety Jay Valai said. "I thought I had an asthma attack for a second."
Added defensive end J.J. Watt: "If he scores a touchdown there, it changes the entire dynamic of the game."
Badgers safety Shelton Johnson, with help from safety Dezmen Southward, tripped up Middlebrooks just shy of the goal line as time expired. Johnson said he had a good angle on Middlebrooks but likely needed Southward to slow him down before the end zone.
"That's a touchdown," Valai said. "Shelton stopped six or seven points right there. That was the biggest play of the game."
Johnson disagreed, giving the credit to Valai for his own "special" moment.
Wisconsin's defense had kept Arizona State out of the end zone for nearly 56 minutes before Cameron Marshall crossed the goal line with the apparent tying touchdown. Former Lou Groza Award winner Thomas Weber lined up for the extra-point try, but Valai burst through the line, hoisted his 5-foot-9 frame into the air and blocked the kick.
"A lot of guys don't pay attention to every play, but one thing the coaches drill into our heads is, 'This could be the play, this could be the play,'" Valai said. "I saw the hole, went over it, guy lifted me up in the air and I blocked it."
Veteran coach Dennis Erickson was as surprised as anyone to see Valai burst through.
"In all my career, I've never seen something like that," the Sun Devils coach said.
Bielema often watches how a defense, his own or an opponent's, responds after a touchdown is scored.
"It's a huge emphasis for me," Bielema said. "I point it out all the time when we go against a defense that gives no effort on a PAT. That doesn't just happen. That's from 365 days of mental and physical conditioning that our guys pride themselves on."
Valai's effort helped Wisconsin live another day as an undefeated team.
There were other examples of Badger resolve Saturday:
- Down two primary receivers (Nick Toon and David Gilreath) because of injury, Wisconsin leaned on Kendricks, who recorded a career-high 131 receiving yards on seven catches. Tolzien also had his best performance of the young season (19-for-25, 246 pass yards, TD).
- The defense held Arizona State to one offensive touchdown despite losing standout linebacker Chris Borland (shoulder) early and Watt and linebacker Culmer St. Jean for parts of the game.
- Star left tackle Gabe Carimi, who is Jewish, played on Yom Kippur and fasted from noon Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday, when he received an IV before the game.
- Watt twice left the game with a bruised quad but walked it off on the sideline and returned to record three quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.
"We had so many different situations of adversity today," Watt said. "For our team to respond every single time and get out of here with a win, it's huge for us and gives us a lot of confidence going forward."
The Badgers certainly aren't without their issues.
Kick coverage lapses like the ones against Arizona State usually get you beat. Wisconsin continued a disturbing trend of racking up a ton of yards (440) but not translating it into points. Clay had another big day (22 carries, 123 rush yards, 1 TD) but couldn't convert two third-and-short situations in the fourth quarter.
Most unsettling is the potential loss of Borland, the team's best all-around player. The 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year on Saturday aggravated his surgically repaired left shoulder, which kept him out of last week's game.
Bielema didn't know the extent of the injury after the game but said, "We definitely want to do what's best for Chris. You can't just keep going with him not going to be there or going to be there. The fortunate thing is he does have a redshirt year available."
Can the Badgers overcome obstacles and still take a step from being very good to elite? Time will tell, Saturday's win showed they won't shy away from adversity.
"We've got to take everything we can from this game," Bielema said, "the breakdowns, the mistakes, but also the positives and the extra efforts. It's a summation of everything that went on. We did enough good things to win this football game, but we have to correct and move past anything that can prevent us from winning in the future.
"I really just like the resolve of these guys."
We've already seen three field goal attempts, one conversion by Wisconsin, misses by each team, and an electrifying kick return for a touchdown by Arizona State's Omar Bolden. Wisconsin ranked 119th nationally in kickoff coverage a year ago, and the problems have continued.
The Sun Devils' speed really seems to be giving the Badgers trouble right now, as ASU leads 7-3.
Wisconsin easily marched into Arizona State territory on its first two possessions behind its running backs and the Scott Tolzien-Lance Kendricks connection. But the Sun Devils' defense tightened up both times, forcing two lengthy field goal attempts, the second of which Philip Welch converted for a 3-0 lead.
Arizona State's speed on offense seemed to put Wisconsin back on its heels, as the fast tempo and fast running backs moved the ball downfield. But after losing standout linebacker Chris Borland to a left shoulder injury -- Borland underwent offseason surgery on his right shoulder and missed last week's game after tweaking it against UNLV -- the Badgers made some nice plays in the red zone. Borland's return is uncertain.