Minnesota Boys

Two of eight Minnesota natives on Wisconsin's 2009 roster, junior wide receivers Issac Anderson and David Gilreath have already had breakout games against the Gophers in their careers. This Saturday, the duo hopes to double their Minnesota pleasure.

MADISON – Opening the season with four straight home games and four victories for the first time in school history, the Badgers find themselves with plenty of momentum heading into their first road game of the season.

For junior wide receivers Isaac Anderson and David Gilreath, a couple of Minneapolis natives, it's just another home game.

"It's not a road trip for me, I am going home,' Gilreath said. "It feels good to go home and play in front of all your family and friends. It's fun to be able to show off how much I have grown in living color. It's going to be a big game on top of that."

Big game doesn't begin to describe what will take place Saturday between the Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) and the Gophers (3-1, 1-0) in the first conference home game at the brand new TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota's campus, the first time football has been outside and on campus in Minnesota in 27 years.

At the same time, there is something about seeing the maroon and gold on the opposing sideline that brings out the best in Anderson and Gilreath.

Two years ago in UW's 41-34 victory in the Metrodome, Gilreath compiling 226 total return yards, including a career-best 107 punt return yards only two punts.

"I had a pretty big return game (that day)," said Gilreath. "That was my biggest one thus far. "

A year ago, Anderson was a quiet producer in the Wisconsin offense, catching only nine passes for 99 yards through the team's first 10 games. That changed against Minnesota, as Anderson caught a career-high six passes for 114 yards, being big component in UW's 35-32 victory.

More importantly, it was a huge psychological boost, as Anderson was forced to redshirt after being plagued by lingering hamstring issues.

"You know you have the ability to do things, but you aren't 100 percent healthy and you can't play to the best of your abilities," Anderson said. "That Minnesota game was a breakout game for me. It showed me that I can do those things and is a testament to hard work."

The duo are parlaying that Minnesota momentum into success every week, combining for 599 all-purpose yards in UW's four wins this season.

Anderson has been UW's big-play threat, catching UW's two longest pass plays of the season while Gilreath, who has battling stress fractures in both his feet that affect his burst and cuts, was a big reason the Badgers had an average starting field position of their own 38-yard line last week against Michigan State.

"It seems like we're clicking everywhere right now," Gilreath said. "Everyone is getting involved from the running game to the passing game. You don't know where the ball is going to go … and it looks good right now."

The balance of the offense is a credit to junior quarterback Scott Tolzien. Named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after throwing a career-high four touchdown passes against the Spartans, Tolzien leads the conference in passing efficiency and has completed passes to nine different receivers.

"We're developing a real good relationship with him," Anderson said of Tolzien, who he roomed with during the summer before freshman year. "His nose is always in the playbook, and we have a lot more confidence in our receiving corps."

Not only will the Badgers in overcoming an amped-up Gophers squad that haven't won the axe since 2003, Anderson will have to overcome a father decked in Gopher garb. Anderson's father, Melvin, was a wide receiver at Minnesota and left the school with the fourth-most receiving yardage (1,265) in school history.

A year after sitting at Camp Randall in a maroon sweatshirt, Melvin Anderson will be on the field, wearing one of his old Gopher jerseys and a button of Isaac.

"It's a little competition between us, but he's supporting me," Anderson said. "It's a fun way to bond with your father. It's going to be a great opportunity to go home and perform like I did last year."


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