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Badger Bits: 'Next man in' with Borland out for season

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Earlier today we learned the disappointing news that Wisconsin sophomore linebacker Chris Borland will miss the remainder of the 2010 season because of his left shoulder injury. Borland will be sorely missed and it's impossible to replace the impact the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has on the field. But, the show must go on and this is an occasion where Bret Bielema's 'next man in' philosophy applies. So, who's going to receive the biggest chunk of Borland's playing time?

The answer is senior linebacker Blake Sorensen. Sorensen has already seen a fair amount of playing time this season as Wisconsin's linebacker corps has struggled with injuries all season. Culmer St. Jean and Mike Taylor will be the other starters. Borland's absence will especially be felt when the Badgers go with the 3-3-5, a formation which really allowed Borland to showcase his talent. Sorensen, A.J. Fenton, and Kevin Rouse were the three linebackers in the 3-3-5 after Borland left the Arizona State game, but for future games Borland might be replaced by Mike Taylor or David Gilbert in that formation.

Hit the jump for a 2009 Champs Sports Bowl game recap, as well as more links to news in the world of Wisconsin Badger sports.

In 2009, Wisconsin was awarded a berth to the Champs Sports Bowl for the second year in a row. The 2008 game in Orlando didn't go so well for the Badgers, as Florida State dominated and handed the Badgers a 42-13 defeat. Normally a team wouldn't be excited to go to a bowl like this two years in a row, but a matchup with a national power like Miami was a good opportunity for the Badgers to finish off 2009 in a positive way.

Wisconsin Badgers (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) vs. Miami Hurricanes (9-3, 5-3 ACC), December 29, 2009 - The pregame hype surrounding this game was familiar to anyone who's ever been a fan of a Big Ten football team. Miami's speed would be too much for the plodding Badgers to handle. And just in the first minute of the game, those stereotypes seemed to play out on the field. Miami perfectly executed a lateral reverse kickoff return for what would have been a touchdown on the first play if not for a completely unnecessary block in the back by a Miami player. No matter; the Hurricanes punched in a 16 yard rushing touchdown on the next play anyways. But the Badger defense didn't let the quick score get in their heads. Miami went the next 58 minutes and 45 seconds without scoring a single point. QB Jacory Harris was under pressure the entire night and seemed to be rattled both physically and mentally. Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren came up with an excellent gameplan and the players executed it to a T.

On the offensive side of the ball, things weren't perfect for Wisconsin but they did rack up a lot of yards- 430 to be exact. Two Wisconsin turnovers, including a fumble by Garrett Graham in the red zone, were the only things keeping Miami in the game. John Clay got two rushing touchdowns before halftime, and the Badgers headed to the locker room up 17-7. Both offenses couldn't get much going in the 2nd half, but Miami finally got on the board again with 1:22 left on a Jacory Harris to Thearon Collier touchdown pass to make it 20-14 Badgers. Wisconsin then couldn't recover the onside kick, giving most Badger fans heart attacks. Fortunately, the defense forced a turnover on downs and Wisconsin went home winners. John Clay was Champs Sports Bowl MVP with 121 yards and 2 TDs. TIght ends Lance Kendricks and Garrett Graham combined for 205 receiving yards. Wisconsin finished the year 10-3 and ranked #16 in final polls. And the pieces were in place to keep that momentum going into 2010.

More Links:

Wisconsin at Michigan State, the Big Ten opener for both teams, will be televised by ABC and is slated for 2:30 PM. Michigan State debuted in the polls at #25 after their impressive fake field goal touchdown pass got them a victory over Notre Dame in overtime. Both teams will likely be undefeated and ranked going into this game.

With Penn State announcing that they plan to add hockey, look for a six-team Big Ten hockey conference to begin play in 2014.

Ricky Wagner played well enough on Saturday to warrant another start at right tackle this week.

Despite the incessant whining by the fans around me last Saturday that John Clay should get more carries (even though Clay is 10th in the country in rushing attempts), expect to see more of James White toting the rock this Saturday. The article then goes on to say that Montee Ball might be pressing.

Bret Bielema's well documented single status leads to less stress in what can be a very stressful profession.

Shot-block extraordinaire Greg Stiemsma needs a new gig after being released by the Timberwolves.

Random stat of the day: Scott Tolzien is currently 7th in the country in completion percentage.

Off Tackle Empire has their week 3 power poll up, and the Badgers are 3rd. Note that this is because Nebraska is included in this poll.

Adam Rittenberg says that John Clay needs a 220 yard and 4 TD performance if he wants to get back into the Heisman discussion.