The Wisconsin Badgers have a habit of drubbing teams this season. Whether it's a small school like Northern Illinois University or conference rival Nebraska, Wisconsin has just plowed through their opposition. They made no exception this past Saturday against Indiana.
The Badgers, led by head coach Bret Bielema and star quarterback Russell Wilson, have been beating opponents by an average of 41 points per game this season, and Saturday they beat the Hoosiers defiantly 59-7.
You know a college football program is having a truly special season when they can put 59 points on the board at home on a day when their best player (and a Heisman hopeful) only throws for one touchdown. Wisconsin reminded us all Saturday that they are having a truly special season.
Here are the winners (and the one loser) from the Badger victory over Indiana Saturday.
Nick Toon is the Badgers' No. 1 receiver and Russell Wilson's favorite target, no matter where Toon is on the field. Since the team's Week 1 victory over UNLV, Toon has caught a touchdown in every game.
Toon, a senior, normally uses all of his 6'3", 220-pound body to blow by opponents, creating space for Wilson to find him for a big gain. Unfortunately for Toon, this past weekend against Indiana he was standing on the sidelines with a foot injury.
Toon is only a loser in the sense that, had he been on the field, Wilson would have probably thrown for another touchdown (or two), further adding to his Heisman resume. It's also not very fun to miss out on a mauling at home.
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has had the reins to the program since 2006 and has done beyond well in his five years thus far. His overall record is 55-16, and he has his team 6-0 this year coming off a 2010 in which he won his conference and ultimately went to, but lost, the Rose Bowl.
A coach does nothing but look good on a day in which his team goes up 14-0 after the first quarter and 38-7 at the half. Often times, the college game is purely about talent and athleticism and how a school like Wisconsin just has more of it than say, Indiana. Many times, however, the intangibles that a successful head coach provide weigh in as well.
Bielema has shown week in and week out this season that he has his boys disciplined and focused, no matter who the opponent or what the scoreboard reads. This hard work during the week pays off when he is able to pull his starters and rest them during the second half.
Abbrederis is only a sophomore and doesn't have quite the wide receiver body that teammate Nick Toon has; however, he has still been highly productive for the Badgers and Russell Wilson this season.
On Saturday, Abbrederis caught five balls for 63 yards but really put his stamp on the game with his special teams play. He returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter, electrifying the stadium and awakening his then second-string teammates on the field.
Abbrederis' ability to make big-time plays at any given moment showed Saturday and made him a definite winner. He is one of the many tools at Wilson's disposal.
With no disrespect intended, Montee Ball has had almost as captivating a season as teammate Russell Wilson through six weeks. Ball has averaged 110 yards rushing per game, getting 6.1 yards per attempt. More than that, though, he has found the end zone 16 times rushing and twice passing.
His athleticism and understanding of the game stood out Saturday against Indiana. He followed up his 150-yard, four-touchdown performance against Nebraska with a 140-yard, three-touchdown rushing effort. The cherry on top, however, was that he threw a 25-yard touchdown to quarterback Russell Wilson on a trick play.
Ball netted over 200 yards (rushing, receiving, passing) while getting the ball into the end zone four times on Saturday, and he, along with his team, remind the nation that they shouldn't sleep on Wisconsin Badger football.
When I saw Russell Wilson toss the ball behind him to running back Montee Ball and then run downfield to catch the pass from Ball for a touchdown, I was exuberant. I then immediately thought of the Stanford play involving their Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck several weeks back, and the old Michael Jordan "anything you can do, I can do better" Gatorade commercials.
Wilson didn't put up Heisman-esque numbers Saturday, but in his defense, he didn't need to. Adding his receiving yards to the mix, Wilson netted nearly 200 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. More than that, though, he set the tone for his team and willingly took a back seat to Montee Ball, who had the hot hand throughout the day.
That is something not a lot of stars can easily do, but Wilson has shown throughout the season that he is willing to do what it takes to win before anything. That is what makes him a winner.