Granted, a shot at a national championship is gone and a lot of the other aspects that go along with it, such as quarterback Russell Wilson possibly winning the Heisman Trophy, but the aspirations for the Badgers to win their division, win a second straight conference championship and get back to Pasadena are still within their reach.
"Our expectations are the same," coach Bret Bielema said Thursday. "We expect to try and compete and win every game. That hasn't changed … Our expectations haven't changed."
It's the main reason when No.19 Wisconsin kicks off against Purdue at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Camp Randall, Bielema isn't expecting any type of hangover in his players, especially after the Badgers have finished the last two games strong and trailed the Boilermakers on the road last season.
"Purdue has really good skill," Bielema said. "They have gimmicks. They have tricks. They have a couple of those things early on … From Tuesday to where we are today leaving the field have been real good. We got some guys healthy."
From the Infirmary
Everybody who played last week is expected to play this week according to Bielema, including sophomore linebacker Ethan Armstrong.
After tearing a ligament in his hand after the Indiana game, Armstrong played through the injury and had surgery on it early Monday morning. He will play with his hand clubbed Saturday.
"Tuesday he was a little bit limited but he was fine Wednesday and today," Bielema said of Armstrong. "He made the sacrifice of waiting two weeks. I think there was a three-or-four week window where the surgery wouldn't have been effective."
A New Number One?
Senior Nick Toon entered the season as Wisconsin's unquestioned No.1 wide receiver. Spending most of the offseason recovering from foot surgery, Toon has certainly performed, ranking fourth in the conference in receiving yards per game (77.7) and fifth in the country among wide receivers with at least 30 catches, averaging 18.1 yards per reception.
But with his production slipping the last three games, missing one due to injury and being held to three catches or less and no scores against Michigan State and Ohio State, Wisconsin has seen sophomore Jared Abbrederis emerge, cementing himself as the team's current No.1 receiver.
"He's a playmaker," Bielema said of Abbrederis. "He just has that knack for going to get the football. The thing about Abby is he makes a lot of great catches and a lot of good things, but his blocking and some of the things he does down field to allow some of our big runs to happen is really incredible."
Abbrederis leads the Badgers with 36 catches for 595 yards. Over the last six games, Abbrederis has 32 catches for 546 yards and four touchdowns.
Extra Points: Wisconsin used some crowd noise for its defense this week to simulate what hopefully will be a loud Camp Randall on Saturday. Usually, Wisconsin pipes in the crowd noise only when its preparing for a road or neutral site game … Montee Ball was said to have an ‘edge' to him this week, a good thing according to Bielema. ‘If you accept losing, it's going to start happening more than you ever want it to be.' … Just like offensive and defensive miscues, Bielema said any mistakes over the last two weeks will ‘hopefully be corrected.' Bielema also expects that the Boilermakers will attack the right side of the shield.
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