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Sunday, February 05, 2023

Football: Keeping the ball rolling during bye week

Bye weeks are typically a good chance to improve a team’s quirks or setbacks midseason. It is also a chance for a team to get some extra time to prepare for upcoming opponents. As far as improvements go, the Badgers’ offense might just need to watch last week’s game film and repeat.

Wisconsin (3-1 Big Ten, 5-2 overall) scored a season-high 56 points against Illinois (0-2, 3-3) in last weekend’s matchup. The highly anticipated night game was a chance for the Badgers to get their first road win of the season and to prove that they belong in AP Top 25.

Earlier this season Wisconsin had been skirting on the edge of being a ranked team. The Badgers were ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll going into last weekend’s game against the Fighting Illini, but walked away ranked No. 22. The Badgers’ trio of tailbacks, redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon, senior James White and freshman Corey Clement had a combined 44 carries for 294 yards and six touchdowns.

Gordon has speedily reached the 1000 rushing-yard mark this season. He ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns against the Fighting Illini, marking the sixth game of seven this season where he has rushed for over 140 yards.

White also added 127 yards and two touchdowns. The senior is leading all active FBS players with 39 career rushing touchdowns and 41 career touchdowns.

“When I’m not hot there’s a good chance that [White] is,” Gordon said. “That’s the great thing about it, you feed off that, that’s how competitive we are.”

Wisconsin will look to keep its momentum running into next week’s matchup against Iowa. It will be the first time in two years the Hawkeyes and Badgers face off for the Heartland Trophy. In their last matchup Wisconsin won, but the series is tied 42-42-2.

The Badgers will look to continue to strive toward offensive perfection with the talented trio of tailbacks and receiving game led by redshirt senior Jared Abbrederis, who has 752 yards this season. An extra week of practice will provide Wisconsin with a bit more time to prepare for its heated rivalry and a chance to keep a hold on the Heartland Trophy.

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