Badger Bits: Wisconsin in the red zone -- is any team better?

We all know the Badgers have a pretty good offense. They had a pretty good offense last year, too. And the year before that? Also good. It might not come as a surprise, then, that the Badgers have ranked among college football's best recently when it comes to one of football's most important measures of offensive success: red zone efficiency.

As Tom Mulhern points out, the Badgers scored 56 of the last 57 times they've reached the red zone (not including kneel-downs) dating back to well into last season. Overall, they finished third overall in the FBS last season, converting 62 of 68 (91 percent) red zone opportunities. They would have been even better, but that statistic includes kneel-downs. In 2009 they were even better, converting 53 of 56 red zone opportunities (95 percent), tying them for third among FBS schools. Arkansas was the only other school to finish in the top five in red zone efficiency in each of the past two seasons.

The Badgers scored each time they reached red zone Thursday, and with weapons like Russell Wilson, Montee Ball, James White and Nick Toon, it's easy to see the Badgers duplicating the red zone success they've enjoyed in recent years.

Beavers tailback Malcolm Agnew is officially Out for Saturday's game. He'll be replaced by another true freshman, Terron Ward, who didn't receive a carry last week.

Oregon State will use two quarterbacks against the Badgers. Junior Ryan Katz was the unquestioned starter until last week, when he was pulled in favor of redshirt freshman Sean Mannion, who promptly outperformed him. Katz seems a little shaken by the benching.

Brandon Kelly is excited to be back in the rotation at defensive end after missing all of last season and part of 2009 with groin and pelvis injuries. Linebacker Chris Borland, who also returned Saturday, wants to make a bigger impact against the Beavers than he did last week against UNLV.

Sophomore receiver Manasseh Garner will be back this week, giving the Badgers another playmaker at wide receiver. Sophomore linebacker AJ Fenton is also back after missing all of fall camp and Thursday's game with a hamstring injury.

It looks like Iraq vet and Wisconsin defensive end/linebacker Greg Russo won't get a shot to play this season. The NCAA ruled him a transfer student, so he'll have to sit.

Here's a gigantic list of predictions for Saturday's game. As you might expect, the Badgers are picked unanimously.

Wisconsin basketball's non-conference schedule could include as many as five games against teams that participated in the NCAA tournament last season, although none of the match-ups look particularly difficult outside of their showdown with North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

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