Front Seven - Illinois

After developing so much momentum at home, No.15 Wisconsin took its Camp Randall magic on the road, getting a big 42-13 victory at Minnesota. With the Badgers playing at least two more games away from home, gaining confidence has come at the right time. We examine the key contributors in this week's Badger Nation Front Seven.

MADISON — 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, Montee Ball, RB (1) — Running the football has always been the recipe for success for the Badgers against Minnesota. In 2009, Wisconsin got 295 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns from John Clay. Last season, Wisconsin ran for 229 combined yards and five touchdowns from its top two running backs. This year was Montee Ball's turn to carve them up. The junior ran into the Big Ten records books with 23 carries for 166 yards and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving), breaking the conference's single season touchdown record of 26. He won't get much Heisman consideration because of UW's two losses, but he certainly should be one of the finalists for the Doak Walker Award.

2, Russell Wilson, QB (2) — Just read the individual notes the UW Athletic Department released after the game and tell me how the senior quarterback did.

- With four TD passes today, Wilson now has 25 on the season, breaking the UW single-season record for TD passes. Wilson also became just the 13th QB in FBS history -- and fifth from a BCS conference -- to pass for at least 100 TDs in a career. He is on pace to become just the fourth QB in Big Ten history to throw at least 30 TDs in a season.

- Wilson's four TD passes today are tied for third-most in school history. He becomes the eighth Badgers QB to throw at least four TD passes in a game and the first since Scott Tolzien threw four against Northwestern on Nov. 27, 2010.

- Wilson was a perfect 13-of-13 for 162 yards and 3 TDs in the first half. That equates to a pass efficiency of 280.8. He connected on his first 16 passes today and last five of the Purdue game, giving him a streak of 21 straight completions.

I know there are some higher profile quarterbacks in the country, but I don't think any of them have played as well as Wilson has through all 12 games this season.

3, Mike Taylor, LB (4) – Taylor finished with a game-high 13 tackles, his fifth double-digit tackle game of the season, and did so after dinging up his knee earlier in the game. UW coach Bret Bielema wasn't confident that he would even get the junior back in the game. A true sign of toughness, Taylor strapped up knee brace and kept going.

4, Nick Toon, WR, (NR) – After being dormant for virtually the entire conference season, Toon emerged in a big way Saturday, finishing with a career-high eight catches for 100 yards and tied his career high with a pair of touchdown receptions, his third multiple-TD game of the season. Toon and Wilson were on the same page from the get-go and used the sideline out route repeatedly to gain big chunks of yards against the Gophers secondary. With at least three more games to go, Toon is reminding teams that he's still got some skills.

5, Jacob Pedersen, TE (NR) – Pedersen's numbers weren't off the charts (three catches, 13 yards) but he grabbed another red zone touchdown. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound redshirt sophomore has caught eight touchdown passes through 10 games, tied for the most of any tight end in the country. He also ranks third on the team with 27 catches for 323 yards, a big reason he was named a Mackey Award semifinalist.

6, Chris Borland, LB (3) — Borland did against Minnesota what we've come to expect from him in the middle of Wisconsin's defense – direct traffic, make plays and keep points off the board. The Badgers had one of their better defensive efforts of the season, limiting the Gophers to 156 total yards and zero points on offense. Borland finish second on the team in tackles (7) and added a tackle for loss, meaning it was another steady day of production.

7A, James White, RB (6) – Getting productive carries for the second straight week, are the Badgers preparing White to handle the work load when Ball leaves for the NFL? Of course not, but it's worth mentioning. White has run well the last two games and racked up 87 yards on 14 carries (a 6.2-yard average) against a Minnesota defense that's had trouble stopping everybody.

7B, Antonio Fenelus, CB (NR) – Yes he embarrassed himself by getting stiff armed by the kicker to allow a fake field goal to go for a touchdown, but that was Fenelus' only bump in the road. Gophers receiver Da'Jon McKnight entered the game as Minnesota's best deep threat, but was limited to just four catches for 34 yards thanks to the senior cornerback. Throw in his momentum-changing interception in the second quarter, Fenelus is a shoe in for an All-Big Ten honor.

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