The 20-point mark has become significant for UW under Bielema. The Badgers are 34-2 in his tenure, including 12-straight wins, when limiting its opponent to 20 points or less. Conversely, Wisconsin is 47-5 under Bielema when scoring more than 20 points. With an offense averaging 45 points per game and a defense giving up just eight points, Wisconsin seems destined for success.
The rankings for the Front Seven 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, as it wasn't easy narrowing the last down to seven.
Last week's rankings in parentheses
1, Russell Wilson, QB (1) —If the Heisman Trust gave its award after the nonconference season, Wilson would be striking the pose. After passing for 347 yards against Northern Illinois, becoming the ninth Badgers QB to throw for at least 300 yards in a game, Wilson is 35-of-44 for 566 yards with six touchdowns and one interception, numbers that equate to a pass efficiency of 232.6.
Passing for three touchdowns and delivering some key third-down runs that moved the chains, Wilson's 384 yards of total offense were good for the fifth-best single-game performance in UW history. He should put up big numbers again this week, but the real test is coming next Saturday.
2, Montee Ball, RB (2) — In the doldrums of Soldier Field, Ball said blatantly that he had a bad game against Northern Illinois. A bad day for Ball is a great day for most college running backs. Ball carried a team-best 20 times for 91 yards and two scores, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Not amazing numbers, but certainly effective, and numbers Wisconsin will gladly take all season long.
3, Chris Borland, LB (4) — The rest is officially off the sophomore linebacker. Completing his third game at his new position, Borland looks mighty comfortable in the middle of Wisconsin's defense. He led the team in tackles for the third straight game, finishing with 11 stops and two tackles for loss against Northern Illinois, and continues to help the front seven shut down the run, as the Huskies finished with just 64 rushing yards.
4, Nick Toon, WR (5) — Through the first three games of Toon's breakdown sophomore season, the wide receiver had 15 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown. This season, Toon has 14 catches for 198 yard and three touchdowns, two of which came in the first half Saturday. It's obvious Toon is fully healthy, playing at an incredibly high level and has the best chemistry with Wilson of anybody on the team.
5, Jacob Pedersen, TE, (3) — Bret Bielema was not shy in proclaiming that, when it's all said and done and if the diligence to his craft continues, Pedersen will be the best tight end that has ever come through Wisconsin. Pedersen continued his torrent nonconference stretch against Northern Illinois, catching two passes (a 55-yard catch and run and a 9-yard touchdown) and recovered a vital onsides kick in the first quarter.
6, Jared Abbrederis, WR, (NR) – With the play of Toon and Pedersen, the walk-on quarterback turned wide receiver has been lost in the publicity. Still, it's obvious that Abbrederis is playing at a super high level. More experienced and confident in his ability, Abbrederis is making plays for the offense. Against NIU, he had team highs in catches (6) and yards (83), giving Wisconsin's offense another viable weapon.
7, RB James White (NR) – A multidimensional threat out of the backfield, White could be the more complete player of UW's running backs. He carried the ball only eight times, but still ran for 91 yards, averaged 11.4 yards per carry and scampered 28 yards for a touchdown. In the passing game, White caught three passes for 35, turning in another complete, yet quiet, performance.
Others to Note
LB Ethan Armstrong – A big-time Bears fans making his first college start at Soldier Field, Armstrong's solid play is going to make a great story to tell his kids. Replacing Kevin Claxton in the starting lineup for the second straight week, Armstrong has four tackles including the team's only quarterback sack.
CB Marcus Cromartie – Targeted early by Dave Doeren in his first career start at cornerback, Cromartie answered the bell with eight tackles and .5 tackles for loss. He got beat on two passes, one leading to NIU's only touchdown, but it's hard to knock him in playing pretty sound for his first start and on the road nonetheless.
FB Bradie Ewing – Always known as a force in the blocking game, Ewing hasn't lost that part of his game while adding an offensive dimension to the offense. He led all running backs with four catches for 51 yards against NIU, and has become a favorite among his teammates, including fellow captain Wilson.
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