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Badger Bits: Effective running game and potent rush defense key for UW

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When you think of Wisconsin Football, you think of large and powerful running backs plowing through defenses with the help of offensive linemen best described as behemoths. So, it's not a surprise that Wisconsin has had a running back rush for over 1,000 yards in 15 of the last 17 seasons, including each of the last five. It's also not a surprise that the Badgers had the top rushing offense in the Big Ten this past season. But, as Tom Mulhern from reminds us, Wisconsin also had the top rushing defense in the Big Ten in 2009. The Badgers' rushing offense gets all of the hype, but the rushing defense is also formidable. Last season, the Badgers forced teams to beat them through the air. Exhibit A is the fact that the Badgers still out-gained their opponents on the ground in all three losses.

Can we expect a repeat of Wisconsin's success running the ball as well as stopping the run in 2010? On offense, the answer is a resounding yes. John Clay returns to headline a deep running back corps that includes Montee Ball and true freshman James White. Immense talent, experience, and depth can be found in Wisconsin's offensive line. On the other hand, the defense has some question marks in the front seven because of graduating players and injuries. O'Brien Schofield, Jaevery McFadden, Jeff Stehle, and Dan Moore are gone, and Mike Taylor is still not at 100%. It's going to be up to new starters Jordan Kohout, Louis Nzegwu, and Patrick Butrym to keep the Badger rush defense stout. Personally, I'm betting on them doing just fine.

After the jump, we've got the recap of 2009's edition of Purdue/Wisconsin. And of course, more Badger Bits to help get you ready for the big day Saturday.

Okay, so Wisconsin just got their butt kicked by both Ohio State and Iowa to fall to 5-2 on the year. Bucky received a bye week from the scheduling gods to regroup. Would the Badgers be able to get things back on track with a home tilt versus Purdue on Halloween afternoon?

Purdue Boilermakers (3-5, 2-2 Big Ten) at Wisconsin Badgers (5-2, 2-2), October 31, 2009 - Some people thought a night game at Camp Randall on Halloween would be a good idea, but the people calling the shots obviously did not. Fortunately for the Badgers, Purdue didn't seem to wake up on time for the 11 a.m. start. Let's cut to the chase here, the Badgers obliterated the Boilermakers 37-0. Purdue QB Joey Elliott was 5 for 23 for 59 yards and a pick. His receivers didn't help the situation- I've never seen a team drop so many passes in my life. To be fair, it was a windy day in Madison and the Badgers only passed for 115 yards themselves. But that doesn't excuse the ineptitude that was the Purdue passing game. The Badgers got their points thanks to the running game. JC with 123 yards and 3 TDs. Lance Kendricks got 91 yards on 4 end-arounds. Also, David Gilbert's punt block was amazing, check the film. When it was all said and done, Wisconsin got its first shutout of a Big Ten opponent in 10 years.

More Links:

Jeff Potrykus gives us the Cliffs Notes version of 2010 UNLV football.

Wisconsin is a frightening opponent to begin the season against for UNLV, despite fairly recent victories by the Rebels over the Badgers in both football (2003) and basketball (2007).

Catch up on UNLV/Wisconsin football history, a series that began in 1985. Decide for yourself whether or not the Vegas bookmakers rigged the ending of the 2002 matchup.

There's been four sellouts in UNLV history, and all have occurred when the Badgers were in town. A poor economy might spoil UNLV's hopes of number five.

Chris Borland would love to have played football back in the 1920s, because he's a guy who can play everywhere on the field. As it stands, he's happy with the extra playing opportunities he receives because of his versatility.

Kirk Herbstreit's "Herbie Awards" are out. Here's Wisconsin's haul: Jay Valai as the 2nd hardest hitter in the country, Wisconsin's band is 3rd best, the student section is 4th best, Bret Bielema is a candid coach, and Gabe Carimi is on the All-Herbie Team. But Herbstreit thinks Wisconsin is the most likely to disappoint in the Big Ten. What a Buckeye homer...

Wisconsin's home opener is against San Jose State, and the Spartans make an appearance on ESPN's Bottom 10 as currently the 10th worst team in the country.

Zach Brown's decision to redshirt is partially academic-related. Nothing wrong with a victory lap in my book.

Gabe Carimi makes an appearance on 2010 Top 100 players countdown at number 3. The Big Ten is getting some love at the top with Hawkeye Adrian Clayborn at 2 and Spartan Greg Jones at 4. Numero uno is released tomorrow but I'm willing to bet it will be Mark Ingram.

The excitement of game week number one is upon us. Get prepared for the season by picking up a copy of Badger Kickoff 2010, a full-color 128-page magazine solely devoted to previewing our 2010 Badger squad. You can find copies at grocery stores, pharmacies and newsstands across Wisconsin (I got mine at Walgreens) or you can order it online at Snag one, read it, then impress your friends with your newfound Badger knowledge.