Channeling his Inner Favre

When it comes to pinpointing the success of No.7 Wisconsin, there are a number of worthy candidates and reasons why the Badgers are tied for first place in the loss column in the Big Ten conference. Of course, one reason is under center, as senior quarterback Scott Tolzien has been durable and reliable for the Badgers last two seasons.

MADISON - When it comes to durability, love him or hate him, Brett Favre has been the king.

For the past 18 season, Favre has been football's iron man, playing in 316 consecutive games through physical pain (like two broken bones in his ankle) and personal tragedy.

The situation at the University of Wisconsin is on a much smaller scale, but Head Coach Bret Bielema can take one look at Saturday's opponent and appreciate what senior quarterback Scott Tolzien has done for him the last two seasons under center.

Tolzien, a candidate for the Unitas Golden Arm Award, is 17-4 under center for Wisconsin, having started every game and registered a career pass efficiency rating of 148.1, the best in school history and the seventh-best among active FBS quarterbacks with at least 20 games played.

Tolzien has completed 66.9 percent of his passes, also the best in school history and the third-best among active quarterbacks, and has directed Wisconsin into a tie for first place in the Big Ten with four weeks of the season remaining.

When the Badgers (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) travel to Purdue (4-4, 2-2) Saturday, Wisconsin will encounter a team that would love to have a guy like Tolzien under center.

After already losing quarterback Robert Marve for the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee Sept. 25, redshirt freshman Rob Henry suffered a right index finger injury in a loss to Ohio State and didn't attempt a pass against Illinois. Freshman Sean Robinson finished the game.

The Boilermakers also would be willing to use receiver Justin Siller at quarterback, but the junior has missed the last four games with a foot sprain. Siller went through warmups at Illinois, but didn't play.

Tolzien, on the other hand, hasn't missed a beat.

"Scott, if he encompasses one thing, is he's very resilient, physically and mentality," UW Coach Bret Bielema said. "Whenever he's had adversity, he comes back very strong. I know one of his idols is Favre. Scott is probably a guy that … always finds a way to be back out there and practice."

As competitive as Tolzien has been under center on Saturdays, Tolzien is just as aggressive in practice. If Bielema tries to cut practice by 10 minutes or shorten a drill by five plays, Tolzien wants to know why.

"There was a game last year where I wanted to cut back Friday's walk though because offense coaches tend to expand walk through to, ‘Let's practice for two hours,'" Bielema said. "So I tried to skim everything back and Paul (Chryst) came up to me and said we're going to throw Scotty off because Scotty wants these reps. That's just what makes him who he is."

From the Infirmary

In addition to getting a jump start on Purdue during Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and getting a couple verbal commitments on the recruiting front, Wisconsin was able to rest plenty of banged-up players.

Bielema expects Lance Kendricks (ankle) to return to practice Tuesday. Kendricks has yet to go through a full practice, but Bielema believes his senior tight end will be ready by Saturday. Sophomore center Peter Konz (ankle) is also expected to return to practice Tuesday after being limited last week.

Freshman running back James White was really sore last week after suffering a MCL sprain in the second quarter. Bielema has said White has come back fast, and hopes to have him by full speed by the end of the week.

Defensively, Mike Taylor feels better after playing most of the Iowa game with a sprained left ankle and a sprained left lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.

After practicing during the week leading up to the Iowa game, Bielema made the decision to hold junior Nick Toon from the game, believing that Jared Abbrederis and other receivers would give Tolzien a cleaner picture. According to Bielema, Toon practiced three times last week and should be ready for Saturday.

A Security Blanket

Since their misstep in East Lansing, the Badgers have continued their steady rise in the polls, being ranked seventh in all three voter polls and ninth in the BCS poll. With Michigan State's humbling loss at Iowa, the Badgers are currently the highest ranked Big Ten team in the country.

A big part of that rise has been the success of the offense's ball security. In eight games, Wisconsin has turned the ball over only six times (four interceptions and two fumbles), the third fewest mark in the country. The Badgers three running backs (John Clay, James White and Montee Ball) have combined for 317 touches and have fumbled the ball just once.

"It's been a huge point of emphasis," Bielema said. "For us here at Wisconsin, we know we have to be able to protect the ball on offense."

The defense also deserves some kudos, too. Wisconsin ranks second in the country in fewest penalties per game, averaging just 3.38 penalties. The Badgers' 33.1 penalty yards per game are fifth-fewest in the country.

"We're not committing any type of unforced errors," Bielema said, "whether it be turnovers or penalties."

Those factors will continue to be important in the final four weeks of the season, and certainly against the Boilermakers. Purdue has not been good forcing turnovers, tied for tenth with Michigan at minus-3. Purdue has turned the ball over three total times the last two weeks, but have been blown out twice, losing at Ohio State and at Illinois by a combined score of 93-10.

In three games under Bielema, the Badgers are 3-0 and have outscored Purdue 92-23.

"For us to have success this weekend, we're going to have to stick to our formula and that formula doesn't change now that we are playing Purdue versus playing Ohio State and Iowa," Bielema said. "The tactics that we have to do to beat them, the keys to victory are different because it's a different offense and different defenses. The tactics … are the same."

Extra Points: Wisconsin will be busing to Purdue on Friday, something Bielema said is out of the norm for his team … Wisconsin went 2-0 after the bye week last year. UW lost both games before its bye in 2009 … Purdue hasn't beaten Wisconsin in West Lafayette since 1997.

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