Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


No. 1 burden falls on freshman back

[media-credit name=’BEN CLASSON/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]FB_Hill_39_BC[/media-credit]Facing the nation’s top-ranked team and best-scoring defense on the road in a hostile environment is no small task.

Doing so while relying heavily on a true freshman to carry the bulk of the load rushing the ball makes things even more difficult.

Yet that is exactly what Wisconsin will likely be faced with when the Badgers (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) take the Ohio Stadium field Saturday against the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten).


“It doesn’t come around very often, it’s definitely special and unique to have them in both polls too,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said of playing the nation’s top-ranked team.

With starter P.J. Hill still nursing a left leg bruise sustained last week against Indiana, there was talk all week that Zach Brown could very well start in the backfield for Wisconsin Saturday.

“I really like the way he handles everything,” Bielema said. “I think he’s got the right frame of mind.”

Bielema added fuel to that speculation when he told reporters after practice Thursday that Hill didn’t practice at all that day and was also being bothered by a sore Achilles tendon on the same leg.

According to Bielema, Hill is a game-time decision to face the nation’s eighth-best rushing defense.

“Earlier in the week we had him in a boot, now he’s out of the boot and walking and doing things,” Bielema said. “The biggest thing for him is what he’s going to feel confident in going out there on the field.”

Earlier this week, Brown said he would be ready to take the role as Wisconsin’s featured back if the situation presented itself.

“This week I’m going hard, putting in a little more work,” Brown said. “It’s basically the same, … just when the time comes you have to take advantage.”

The task facing Brown will be a tall one. Led by middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, the Ohio State defense allows only 70.9 rush yards per game.

“They’re very aggressive, they like to move around a lot and they’re physical,” Brown said.

Along with establishing a running game, Bielema believes getting off to a fast start will be crucial to the Badgers’ chances.

“I think it is, for our team especially, just the way I’ve seen them respond,” Bielema said.

Getting off to a fast start would also help keep the 100,000-plus fans who pack “The Horseshoe” quiet, at least for a while.

“It’s crazy, that’s probably the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in,” wide receiver and Ohio native Kyle Jefferson said. “Their fans scream, they scream from kickoff to the end of the game and even after the game they’ll still be screaming.”

So far this season, those fans have had a lot to scream about, especially when the Buckeyes are on defense. Ohio State has forced 16 turnovers on defense and scored three defensive touchdowns.

“For us to have success Saturday, we have to take advantage of every opportunity and we can’t give opportunity,” Bielema said. “We can’t give opportunities to them. … They really never hurt themselves, and they really take advantage of opportunities that people give them.”

Suspension choice confirmed

Bielema confirmed Thursday that, as first reported in The Badger Herald, he and running back Lance Smith chose the five road game suspension over alternatives.

According to Bielema, after choosing to take a suspension over facing expulsion from school or appealing the decision, Smith was given the option to miss either the first five games of the season or the five road contests.

“We took the five games, and had the choice of a variety of different things: either have the five up front or five road games,” Bielema said. “That’s something I actually threw out there as a bargaining tool.”

The decision to take the five road game option was made with one eye on the present and another on the future.

“Just early in the year we felt it was important to get those other guys reps,” Bielema said. “I would have been more nervous going into the Washington State ballgame if I didn’t have a guy who had taken any reps.

Really the road games allow Lance to stay here and be focused on his academics.”

Bielema also noted he was hopeful at the time that the back end of Smith’s suspension would be able to be reduced as new information came out.

“I really did it with the understanding and the thought that as we got more information, … the situation might change,” Bielema said.

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