Chip Scoggins: Badgers play like the pros with frightening precision

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 13, 2011 - 1:25 AM

Wisconsin's pro-style offense ran to near-perfection, sparked by Russell Wilson's precision passing and a power running game.

hide

Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson did damage against the Gophers both with his arm (16 completions in 17 attempts) and his legs.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema was asked this summer about the proliferation of spread offenses in college football and the difficulty in defending that wide-open style of play.

The Badgers don't run the spread. Therefore, their defense doesn't face it every day in practice. Must be tough to prepare for, right, Coach?

Bielema countered with an argument that made perfect sense. Opposing defenses, he said, don't often see a pro-style offense as powerfully built as the Badgers.

It's not easy to simulate in practice an offensive line that averages 6-5 and 322 pounds.

Or a quarterback as calm and cool as Russell Wilson.

Or a two-headed running back tandem as explosive as Montee Ball and James White.

Or a play-caller who keeps you guessing as much as offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.

The Gophers got their up-close look Saturday and suffered a similar fate as most others in a 42-13 loss at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Badgers flattened the Gophers without even hitting their season averages in scoring and total offense. But they functioned with such precision, especially in the first half, that the Gophers really had no chance of stopping them.

"When everything is clicking," Bielema said, "it's hard to defend it."

Everything clicked Saturday. Wilson was nearly perfect as he threw four touchdown passes with only one incompletion. Just a hunch, but that should help the ol' pass efficiency rating.

Ball rushed for 166 yards and scored three touchdowns, setting the Big Ten single-season record for touchdowns with 27. Nick Toon finished with 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

The Badgers racked up 29 first downs, held nearly a 10-minute advantage in time of possession and scored touchdowns on all six of their red-zone chances.

Oh, they also regained control of their own destiny in the Big Ten race after consecutive last-second losses to MSU and Ohio State left them in need of help.

They got their wish before kickoff as both Penn State and Ohio State lost in early games. That opened the door for the Badgers, who can win the Leaders Division and earn a spot in the Big Ten championship game by winning their final two games.

"After the game in the locker room, I said, 'Hey, in the world of college football things worked out well for us today,' " Bielema said.

He could've used that same line back in the summer when Wilson opted to transfer to Wisconsin after N.C. State nudged him out the door. Wilson became a one-year stopgap, and what an addition he has been for the Badgers.

Wilson's size (5-11, 210 pounds) might scare off NFL teams, but he's a terrific college quarterback and a perfect fit for the Badgers.

Their offense is beautiful in its efficiency and simplicity. There's nothing gimmicky about it. It's not basketball on grass and five-wides.

They use a fullback -- gasp! -- and multiple tight ends. Ball is a terrific talent who could leave early for the NFL after the season. And Wilson makes it all work.

"If there's a better player in college football ..." Bielema said.

He probably won't get too much argument from the Gophers, who watched Wilson complete his first 16 passes. His lone incompletion came with 6:14 left in the third quarter when Toon couldn't hold on to a jump ball down the middle of the field.

That was it as far as his misfires. Wilson said he was aware of his perfect completion streak as the game unfolded but he tried to have "amnesia." (Come to think of it, the Gophers might want to employ that tactic.)

Wilson finished with 178 yards passing, 162 of that coming in the first half as the Badgers built a comfortable lead. They pretty much were able to coast in the second half.

Bielema said his team is in the "construction phase" after those two heartburn losses staggered them. Suddenly, they're in the driver's seat again.

"We had two weeks back-to-back that were about as gut-wrenching as anybody could imagine," he said. "I know we're a stronger team today than we were four, five weeks ago."

It certainly must be comforting when you have Wilson and that offense to lean on.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Chart: Big Ten single-season TD record

    Sunday November 13, 2011

    Wisconsin's Montee Ball scored three touchdowns Saturday to set a Big Ten single-season record with 27 TDs. Here are the top single-season TD totals in Big Ten history:

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - R. Hernandez 12:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront
Detroit - M. Scherzer 12:05 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Philadelphia - J. Williams 3:05 PM
Oakland - D. Pomeranz
Toronto - M. Stroman 3:05 PM
NY Yankees - C. Capuano
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
Colorado - E. Butler
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close