MADISON, Wis. - It seems as though no matter how the rest of the season has gone, Bret Bielema's teams always finish strong. The Badgers are 17-2 during November under Bielema, who is in his sixth year as head coach. Bielema gave a lot of the credit for his team's November success to superior conditioning for his team.
"I think we are a program that really tries to understand that you can't have success in the end if you don't do the work up front," Bielema said in his Monday press conference. "I let [strength coach Ben Herbert] talk to the group right before we went out of the locker room at halftime at Minnesota because I believe he's they guy that gets our kids in that mentality to physically do things."
Bielema also mentioned that he hasn't been afraid to take a period off of practice to give his players extra time to heal up at the end of the season if they need it.
"You get less work time, but you get better work," Bielema said.
Bielema's only November losses have come on the road - once to then-No. 21 Michigan State in East Lansing in 2008, and once to Northwestern in Evanston in 2009.
After getting their first true road game win of the year against Minnesota last Saturday, his team will have to do it again at Illinois if they want to maintain their second chance in the Big Ten Leaders division.
"The bottom line is, if we don't go in and take care of business against Illinois it's all for naught," Bielema said.
-- Center Peter Konz dislocated his left ankle against Minnesota, and will be out for about two to four weeks. Konz's ankle did not require surgery, as the doctors didn't find any structural problems. Sophomore lineman Ryan Groy will fill in for Konz for the time being, and Bielema said he's excited for Groy to get an opportunity.
"He's been an unselfish player, has done anything for the team," Bielema said. "Just a good kid that really wants the challenge. I think he'll step into this role and [it] really won't change much what we're doing."
-- Jared Abbrederis hurt his shoulder on Saturday, and while he might not practice on Tuesday after all he's still listed on the depth chart, and Bielema expects him back on Wednesday.
-- David Gilbert is still not pain-free after breaking his foot earlier in the year. A redshirt is still an option for the junior defensive end, and Bielema said the staff would make a decision by the end of this week.
-- Manasseh Garner aggravated a previous groin injury, and missed all of last week. The sophomore tight end had a procedure during the week, and the staff will evaluate him this week to see if he can play against Illinois.
News and Notes
-- MVPs for the week: Montee Ball and Russell Wilson on offense, and Antonio Fenelus and Mike Taylor on defense. Bielema didn't mention a special teams MVP, so he either forgot or declined to name one after the dreadful showing the third phase had against Minnesota.
-- Wisconsin's season finale against Penn State has been set for a 2:30 p.m. CST kickoff, and will air on either ABC or ESPN.
-- Bielema has a potential reason for why the special teams have been under performing lately: The Badgers' prolific offense has made them kick the ball off much more often than any other Big Ten team, and Bielema said he's had to try and develop depth on the coverage unit for the first time.
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