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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Badgers prep for Minnesota

Scott Tolzien: Junior quarterback Scott Tolzien continues to impress the staff.

Badgers prep for Minnesota

Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema made it clear in his weekly press conference Monday morning that his team's win over Michigan State last week is old news.

""That game's behind us,"" Bielema said.

In fact, that was the last time Bielema mentioned Michigan State for the remaining half hour. Bielema and his Badgers are clearly focused on their next task at hand, Minnesota, and the rivalry and tradition that comes with the annual matchup against the Gophers.

Bielema also continued his praise of junior quarterback Scott Tolzien, who was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after his performance against Michigan State.

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Tolzien completed 19 of 31 passes for 243 yards and a career-high four touchdowns against the Spartans. Much of that success at quarterback can be attributed to the play of the rest of the offense around him.

""I think Scotty will be the first one to give credit [to them],"" Bielema said. ""I thought we had some great plays out there offensively.""

First and foremost, credit has to be given to the Wisconsin offensive line, which leads the nation in sacks allowed, letting up just two sacks in the first four games. The Badgers are also averaging 230 yards per game through the air this season.

Much of that success can be attributed to the ever-improving receiving corps and their confidence in Tolzien as both a football player and a team leader.

However, when asked why he left his starting quarterback in for the entire game against Michigan State, Bielema said that he felt Tolzien still has a lot to learn, and the few mistakes he made in Saturday's game will help him continue to grow as a player.

""[Tolzien] was the first to point out Saturday that by no means, did he play a perfect, clean game,"" Bielema said.

After conquering his first Big Ten opponent in convincing fashion, Tolzien will face his next challenge this coming week when the Badgers travel to Minnesota. The 119th meeting between the Gophers and the Badgers, the most played rivalry in FBS football, will certainly be both a challenge and a chance to make a statement for Wisconsin. This week's game also marks the first Big Ten contest in the Golden Gophers' brand new arena, TCF Bank Stadium.

""We're looking for an environment we know is going to be hostile,"" Bielema said.

So far, the Gophers have played impressive football. At 3-1 (1-0), Minnesota is fresh off its win against Northwestern and looking to continue to improve as a program.

A win against Wisconsin would certainly be another huge step for Minnesota. The Gophers have not taken home Paul Bunyan's Axe since 2003, and have only beaten the Badgers twice in their past 11 meetings.

One Minnesota player who has caught Bielema's attention is  freshman quarterback MarQueis Gray. Although his stats are not great, Gray has been used in numerous positions on the field, including as a receiver and a running back off direct snaps.

""They're very creative with what they're doing,"" Bielema said.

And that creativity is certain to play into Wisconsin's preparation this week.

 

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