Bielema's Badgers Hit the Books

Not only does Wisconsin have one of the most high-powered offenses in the conference, the Badgers also have one of the smartest teams. Not only does UW not turn the ball over or commit penalties, 22 football players earned Academic All-Big Ten Honors.

MADISON - There are many things Bret Bielema can be proud of as the head coach of the fourth-ranked Wisconsin football team.

Going back to Saturday, Bielema was able to become a two-time Big Ten Champion, having won a conference title as a reserve defensive lineman with the University of Iowa in the early 1990s and now, his first as a coach, earning a three-way share with Michigan State and Ohio State.

Listing off what he was most proud of with this team, Bielema listed off the fact that the Badgers lead the nation in fewest penalties, play four quarter games to close out opponents and lead the Big Ten in turnover margin.

"We also led the country in fewest giveaways, which means you're not killing yourself," Bielema said. "As big as a giveaway is, bad thing for an offense, it's really bad for a defense, because now you're taking the field after a sudden change.

"That's the stuff that gives me an indication that we could have success against a lot of people."

But one of the accomplishments Bielema was most proud of as a head coach in seeing his players set a program record again in Academic All-Big Ten performance.

Released by the Big Ten Thursday, Wisconsin had 22 players named Academic All-Big Ten honors, tied with Indiana and Ohio State for second most in the conference.

To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher, meaning Ethan Armstrong, Gabe Carimi, Bradie Ewing, Antonio Fenelus, Ethan Hemer, Aaron Henry, Shelton Johnson, Jordan Kohout, Peter Konz, Rob Korslin, Andrew Luksasko, Zach Matthias, Pat Muldoon, Brad Nortman, Conor O'Neill, Devin Smith, Blake Sorensen, Culmer St. Jean, Scott Tolzien, J.J. Watt, Ryan Wickesburg and Kevin Zeitler were equally impressive in their balancing acts.

"To know that you recruited them and you developed them and they're buying into what you're doing, that's very, very rewarding as a coach," Bielema said.

Not surprisingly, Northwestern led the way with 32 selections and were followed by Penn State (20), Iowa (16), Minnesota (15), Purdue (14), Michigan State (13), Illinois (8) and Michigan (8).

A total of 60 University of Wisconsin student-athletes have earned the distinction during the 2010 fall season. In all, the Big Ten recognizes a total of 706 fall sports athletes for academic all-conference honors. The list of honored student-athletes features 72 men's and 110 women's cross country runners, 60 field hockey players, 190 football players, 51 men's and 152 women's soccer athletes and 71 volleyball players.

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