No. 11 Wisconsin preps for Spartans after big win

There are lots of reasons to discount Wisconsin’s lopsided win

over an overmatched opponent.

Still, the No. 11 Badgers are feeling good heading into the Big

Ten opener Saturday against No. 24 Michigan State. Wisconsin (4-0)

limited its mistakes and found some much-needed rhythm during its

70-3 rout of Austin Peay over the weekend.

Coach Bret Bielema says regardless of the opponent, his team

played well on offense, defense and special teams.

”I don’t care what just happened this past weekend, the fact is

we went out and executed in all three phases and if we can keep

that mantra going, which is what we preach, good things can

happen,” he said Monday during his weekly news conference in

Madison.

The Spartans (4-0) provide a much stronger challenge, but the

Wisconsin running game is starting to live up to its lofty

expectations. Emerging Heisman Trophy candidate John Clay has 501

yards rushing and six touchdowns this season, averaging 6.5 yards

per carry.

Freshman James White added four rushing touchdowns, and even

fullback Bradie Ewing had two scores against Austin Peay.

”All of our games have progressed up to the Big Ten. It was

good to have a game where we were all clicking on full cylinders

and we’ll be good going into Michigan State,” Ewing said after the

game.

Wisconsin scored on its first seven drives against Austin Peay,

and the Badgers have committed only 11 penalties in four games,

tied for the second fewest in the country.

”You try and execute each drive like we did this week, trying

to score on every drive,” White said. ”I know the competition

will be more with Michigan State, so we can’t get big headed, and

have to stay focused in practice.”

Wisconsin is 10th in the country and second in the Big Ten with

257.5 yards per game on the ground and is one of just six teams to

average at least 200 yards rushing in each of the last three

seasons.

The Badgers are also gaining 5.66 yards per carry. The last time

they averaged over five yards per attempt for a season was in 1999

when they won the conference behind Heisman Trophy winner Ron

Dayne.

Dayne and Clay are certainly similar in their bruising styles,

though Clay has more of an ability to make defenders miss. Scott

Tolzien is completing 76.2 percent of his passes and the defense

has allowed just one touchdown in the last two games.

Even with the good vibes, Bielema said they’ve got a long way to

go.

”I’m happy with where they’re at, but we’re not anywhere close

to were I think we can be,” the coach said. ”I really do believe

this group, especially the 70 guys that’ll hop on the plane with

us, they really do believe in what we do. There is no wandering

eyes, there’s no `Here we go again,’ it’s just `OK, let’s just do

what we do.”