The Front Seven - Michigan

With 105 players on the roster, there are plenty of key components and players that will be important to Wisconsin's success? Who is going to be important this week? Badger Nation takes a look at the front seven.

MADISON — When you score 83 points in one game against a Big Ten opponent and close with a 63-point margin of victory the phrase "Front Seven" seems inordinately inadequate.

The offense dominated from start to finish, scoring on every single drive they touched the ball. It didn't matter if Scott Tolzien, Jon Budmayr or Nate Tice was lining up at quarterback, the Badgers averaged 8.8 yards per play, rumbled off 338 yards on the ground and turned the Hoosiers over three times on defense.


As usual, the rankings are determined based on performance, expectations and need — a wonderfully vague definition of valuable to justify just about any selection.

Please vent debates and disagreements on the premium board.

Last week's rankings in parentheses

1. J.J. Watt, DE (1) — Even in just one half of play, Watt took down Hoosier running backs twice behind the line of scrimmage, recovered two fumbles — one after a scrum at the bottom of a pile — and laid two quarterback hits on Ben Chappell before he was removed from the game. Watt's versatility will be tested with Michigan speedster Denard Robinson as the defensive end's pass rush game is based mostly on power and effort. It is a match-up to keep an eye on.

2. Gabe Carimi, LT (2) — The holes UW running backs had to run through Sunday could have made a 100-yard rusher out of the punt, pass and kick contestant. The offensive line has been playing at a superlatively high level ever since Ohio State. With Michigan's defense operating like a sieve, Wisconsin should have no problem putting up another 200-300 yards on the ground in Ann Arbor.

3. Montee Ball, RB (5) — John Who? The Ball redemption story continues to add impressive chapters each week. Missing top runner in John Clay, Ball took his first career start and put up a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns with all but two carries coming in the first half. With Clay likely to miss at least another week, the Badgers will need Ball to keep on rolling down hill.

4. James White, RB (NR) — Given a bye week and weak opponent in Purdue, White was able to rest his injured knee to recover at 100 percent for his role once again as Wisconsin's No. 2 back. He looked the exact same. White put up 144 yards and two touchdowns at 7.6 yards per clip (same as Ball), and busted the same jaw-dropping moves that have made him a fan favorite. If him and Ball can form the same effective tandem and control the clock against the Wolverines, Wisconsin won't have any problem avenging the 2008 defeat.

5. Scott Tolzien, QB (6) — With offensive coordinator Paul Chryst pulling some masterful marionette strings, Tolzien was able to complete 15 of 18 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns behind play-action pass that kept spring receivers free. It was the first game in a while he didn't throw a head-scratching interception. As long as he takes care of the ball against a depleted Michigan secondary, the Badgers should be just fine in Ann Arbor.

6. Aaron Henry, FS (NR) — With his mom and sister at Camp Randall for the first time, Henry came through with one of the top games of his career. The highlight was obviously a pick-six in the fourth quarter before running towards his mom in the stands to celebrate. Lost in the shuffle, however, was Henry's touchdown saving tackle after Nick Turner busted a 67-yard run in the first quarter. With Robinson up next, the sure tackling will have to continue from the safety position.

7. Louis Nzegwu, DE (NR) — The Badgers have been needing someone to step up opposite of Watt all season and Nzegwu came through against the Hoosiers. Two tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble, highlighted an energetic performance. Nzegwu has played a fairly disciplined game, if not flashy, all season and will need that gap discipline on Saturday.

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