No.6 Wisconsin (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) ranks eighth in the country in scoring offense by averaging 40.2 points per game, 5.9 points better than the school-record 34.3 points per game set in 2005.
In the Badgers' 83-20 victory Saturday, the highest point total in the modern era of UW football (since 1946), Wisconsin scored on each of its 12 offensive possessions, never punting and committing zero turnovers.
Bielema was first introduced to Paul Chryst when the offensive coordinator was hired by Head Coach Barry Alvarez and it's been a good relationship since.
"What you are seeing on Saturdays is what I see every day," said Bielema, as the Wisconsin offense has averaged 30.5 points and 399.0 yards per game over the last five seasons. "It's not by chance that this offense clicks. Paul puts together a plan with a group of coaches that I think really believes in what we are doing, and it's done 365 days a year."
Chryst has done a solid job balancing an offense that was stacked coming into the season with returning 10 starters and two talented running backs backing up 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay. The result is the Badgers being the only team in the county with three running backs with at least 500 yards and tops in the conference in third-down percentage, having converted 56-of-109 opportunities (51.4 percent).
When the two were both coordinators under Alvarez, the now athletic director has the philosophy of letting the coordinators determine what they wanted to work on during spring practices. That's when Bielema saw the potential of the red-zone offense, which has converted 92.5 percent of its trips (49-of-53) into points this season and 37-of-37 inside the 20 the last seven games.
"I'd been playing our base defense and (the offense) for two periods beat the living snot out of us defensively," Bielema said. "It was a whole new offense that was thrown in this red zone and he didn't give me any forewarning that this was going to happen. I said, ‘OK Mr. Nice-Guy Chryst that everybody talks about.
"It really has an uncanny way of scheming things down there that are successful."
From the Infirmary
After sitting out last week's game at Indiana with a MCL sprain in his knee, Bielema said Clay's status is still up in the air for Saturday's game at Michigan. Bielema said that Clay was moving ‘as good as he has' on Sunday and expects the junior to get limited work later in the week.
Bielema went on to say he doesn't expect Clay to be at full strength this weekend but does foresee a challenge finding his three horses carries when all return to 100 percent.
"Whether it's in the next game or the bowl game, it's something you have to be smart about," said Bielema, as the running game is averaging 5.36 yards per carry. "It's hard to get three guys in rhythm all the way through."
Also sitting on Saturday was sophomore center Peter Konz (ankle). Bielema commented that Konz was feeling a lot better after getting all of last week off. Bielema expects to keep senior Bill Nagy at center and Konz in a reserve role unless he dramatically improves during the week.
Players of the Week
While Wisconsin seemingly had the pick of the litter to choose its offensive player of the week, the Badgers selected junior running back Bradie Ewing, who has only two catches for 26 yards but provided plenty in the blocking scheme.
"From game one to where he is today, he's playing as good of football at that position since I've been here," Bielema said.
Defensively, the Badgers selected junior defensive end J.J. Watt (three tackles (two for loss), two quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries) and junior safety Aaron Henry (37-yard interception return for a touchdown).
"J.J. only played 34 snaps, but was very productive," Bielema said. "Aaron Henry with a pick six to end his day was very special moment for him. We said in this game that we thought the free safety would give involved in a lot of plays. Chris Maragos made several interceptions last year, so that gassed Aaron up pretty good."
James White named Big Ten Freshman of the Week
For the third time this season, White was named the conference's Freshman of the Week. White had 144 yards on 19 carries with a pair of touchdowns to help the Wisconsin offense tally 83 points against Indiana, the most points in a Big Ten contest since 1950. With reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay out with an injury, White averaged 7.6 yards per attempt to produce his third game of 100 or more rushing yards.
The freshman running back's effort was one yard shy of his career high of 145 yards set against Austin Peay on Sept. 25. He now has 714 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. Among freshman running backs in the nation, White ranks fourth in total rushing yards, and he leads all Big Ten running backs with an average of 6.8 yards per carry.
"Hopefully, that will pay off for him down the stretch," Bielema said.
Extra Points: Bielema said Wisconsin rotated 11 defensive linemen during the Indiana win, getting valuable game experience he hopes provided dividends down the stretch … Just like they did when simulating OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Badgers will use running back Jeff Lewis and wide receivers to simulate the speed of Michigan sophomore Denard Robinson.