Badgers Bits: Wisconsin's Running Game Doesn't Miss A Beat

Montee Ball and the Badgers' ground game are once again off to a hot start.

The Badgers' running game has picked up about where it left off according to the convoluted metrics provided by the folks over at Football Outsiders. Through the first two games of the season, Wisconsin ranked eighth nationally in the site's rushing S&P metric, a statistic that measures how often your offense is successful on any given down and how successful the play was, essentially the college football equivalent of baseball's OPS. Last year's Rose Bowl squad ended the season ranked fourth.

In fact, early on, the running game is arguably better than it was through the first three games of last season. Comparing just first half stats when games were close and Wisconsin could not be accused of scaling back its effort, the Badgers averaged 6.3 yards per carry against UNLV, Oregon State and Northern Illinois compared to 4.6 yards per carry against UNLV, San Jose State and Arizona State last season. That the Badgers have maintained their relative dominance on the ground is a testament to an offensive line that hasn't missed a beat, even with the losses of Gabe CarimiJohn Moffitt and Bill Nagy. It is a testament to Russell Wilson as well, not only for his own rushing abilities but also for the running lanes he opens up when defenses have to account for him and play action on every play.

With so much football yet to be played, sample sizes are still stupidly small. That doesn't have to stop you from trying to glean what you can and, so far, every sign points to Wisconsin's offense being exactly where it should be: in line for a title run. 

Josh Oglesby will likely miss at least next week's game with an injury to his troubled left knee, putting freshman Rob Havenstein in line to start against South Dakota.

Here are your post-game grades, provided by Tom Oates and Jeff Potrykus.

The Journal Sentinel has all sorts of delicious statistical niblets from Saturday's game. My favorite: Wisconsin is now undefeated in games not picked up by any television network, 1-0.

This week's iteration of Badgers Roundtable provides even more post-game goodness and looks ahead to South Dakota (Spoiler: Wisconsin wins).

Off Tackle Empire keeps Wisconsin atop this week's Power Rankings. Ted Glover notes that Wisconsin remains a cut above the rest.

Before the game Saturday, Dave Doeren to Bret Bielema: "Let's not do this again."

Tom Oates reminds us that this "Russell Wilson" cat is still really good at the quarterback position in the game of football.

Here's a small-school Pro Tip: Don't call out any part of the Top 10 team you have to face on the road that week. The Badgers defense enjoyed arguably their best game of the season and, by the way, rank 18th in Football Outsiders' defensive S&P rankings. 

Russell Wilson gave a rare performance on Saturday. Even rarer that it didn't result in a loss.

The Badgers have heavily featured their running backs in the passing game this season.

Oh snap, South Dakota dominates Directional Middle America State over the weekend, strikes fear into no one.

Wrapping up: A little history on "Jump Around."

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