Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: The Curious Case of Jim Leonhard

Wisconsin football shocked the nation earlier this week by announcing Luke Fickell as the next coach of the team.

The ensuing reactions from the fan base would be mixed at a bare minimum.

On one hand, people are beyond excited.  This is a massive hire for a program determined to go all-in on their football program.  Fans and former players alike have shared this opinion.

On the other hand, Jim Leonhard will not be getting the job, which is disappointing.  Leonhard did a phenomenal job with the program since being here and put his best foot forward in this head coaching decision.

Beyond the football program, Leonhard is as Wisconsin as it gets.  This makes the decision even more rough for the fanbase.

However, the decision has been made, leaving Leonhard with multiple options for his future.  Let’s discuss below.


Option One: Stay as Wisconsin’s Defensive Coordinator

I believe this option is what all Bucky fans are hoping for.

Since joining the Wisconsin coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball, Leonhard’s defense has been nothing short of spectacular.

Wisconsin football has finished top five in total defense and top 10 in scoring defense numerous times under Leonhard.  A tremendous accomplishment.

Beyond the stats, Leonhard knows this team.  He knows the players, the future recruits, this fanbase, and he knows Wisconsin.

This does not guarantee he wants to stay on, however.

Head coach Luke Fickell has already come out and said he is open to retaining Leonhard on the staff.

This decision carries more than just business, though.  Reports are circulating from Leonhard’s inner circle.  The news does not sound encouraging for him staying.

Anything is possible, but emotions are running high right now, and could ultimately sway this option.


Option Two: Give the NFL Another Round of Consideration

Jim Leonhard had a close call with the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator opening a few years ago.  He was very close to leaving Wisconsin for the job.

Thankfully for Bucky fans, he chose to stay.

Now, after being snubbed for the head coaching job many speculated he stayed for, the NFL could, and should, come calling again.  A few teams jump out at me immediately.

The Green Bay Packers are the obvious choice.  The Packers are coming off a terrible game for their defense, and they have been sub-par all year long.  A change could be coming for them on that side of the ball, and look for a call to be made to Leonhard.

The next team that jumps out is the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns are another underperforming team this season, and Leonhard is a former player with ties to the team.  This match makes sense.


Option Three: Leave Wisconsin for Another College Coaching Job

However unlikely it may seem, this is a real option.

Leonhard feels snubbed for this job, and emotions play a real role in these crucial decisions for these people.  They are people after all.

Any other team with a question mark on the defensive coaching staff should be considering Leonhard.  His resume speaks for itself, he’s a stand-up guy and can connect with players.  This would be a homerun hire for any other program.

If a decision about his time at Wisconsin doesn’t come quick, look for powerful programs to come knocking.  This would mean teams like USC, LSU and Alabama.


Closing Thoughts

As a Wisconsin fan, and a Wisconsin sports fan, I admittedly put these options in the order I’d prefer them to happen.

I would absolutely love to keep Leonhard on as the DC.

If Bucky can’t keep him, I’d love my Packers to scoop him up and revamp that defense.

But at the end of the day, if he would decide to leave, Leonhard would have at least one fan cheering him on from Wisconsin.

Thank you for everything, Coach Leonhard.  Hopefully this isn’t goodbye.


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Reaction: Wisconsin Football Hires Luke Fickell as Head Coach

Wisconsin football sent a shockwave through all of college football this past Sunday, November 27th.

While most of America was letting the dust settle on a big college football weekend and watching the NFL games play out, a rumor spread across the internet like wildfire.

Wisconsin was targeting Cincinnati Head Coach Luke Fickell to fill Wisconsin’s head coaching vacancy.

This rumor and speculation quickly turned in to truth, and just a short while later, the report was confirmed.

Luke Fickell is the head coach of the Wisconsin football program.


Immediate Reaction

As a fan, my initial reaction was mixed.  I imagine many Bucky fans shared this feeling with me.

On one hand, my heart went out to Jim Leonhard.  Leonhard stepped into a tough situation, navigated it like a pro, and kept this ship afloat.  Many Wisconsin fans wanted the job to be his from the moment he received the interim job, and more so after his coaching effort to close out the season.

As we know now, that did not happen.

As the dust settled from this negative news, a positive spin on the situation popped up.  Or better yet, the other side of the coin began to shine.

Wisconsin football just hired Luke Fickell.

This move was not guaranteed or anticipated by any means.

Fickell had options.

And he chose Wisconsin.  This alone should speak volumes for the hire on the surface.


Deeper Meaning

The excitement of hiring a big-time coach who has had massive success in college football cannot be denied.  But what does this ultimately mean for the program?

Well, we can expect some roster and coaching turnover.  However, with a big hire like this, the change shouldn’t be scary.  It should be welcomed.  Wisconsin football has been accused of being in a rut for some time now.  This will shake things up.

Recruiting should also get a shakeup.  Fickell will have to convince current UW recruits to stay committed, while claiming the state of Wisconsin for future years.

Coach does come with an extensive Big Ten coaching background, which I anticipate helping in this effort.

Lastly, Fickell has had major success in his coaching career.  Most notably, he brought Cincinnati to the college football playoffs.  A major accomplishment that should have Badger fans super excited for the coming months and next season.


What’s Next?

Badger fans should expect many changes over the coming months, and a few major questions to be answered in short order.

Recruiting will be a major topic over the coming months but will take time.  We’ve already seen many recruits from Cincinnati to decommit or enter the transfer portal.  If those players were to flip, that could be a big boost for Wisconsin.

Roster and coaching changes should be expected.  Jobs and commitments made by Paul Chryst and Jim Leonhard over the past season won’t necessarily be the direction Coach Fickell wants to go.

Last, and probably the most important, is what does this mean for Jim Leonhard?  At this point it is anyone’s guess.  All eyes will be on this situation.


Closing Thoughts

For me, as a Wisconsin football fan, I love this hire.

Jim Leonhard proved himself worthy of the job.  Chris McIntosh chose a different direction for the program.

Badger fans should trust this decision.

As a fan, you can feel bad for Jim Leonhard, but also be super excited about this hire and the new direction of the program.  Both can be true.

GO BUCKY!


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Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell looks on in the third quarter of the NCAA Football game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Cincinnati Bearcats defeated South Florida Bulls 28-24. South Florida Bulls At Cincinnati Bearcats 573

Wisconsin Football: 3 Reasons hiring Luke Fickell was the right decision

Madison, Wis. – The existential question for the Wisconsin football program has seemingly been, “how do we take the next step?”

Since 2014, UW has accumulated the most wins of any program that hasn’t made the College Football Playoffs, although former head coach Paul Chryst seemingly had the Badgers on the cusp at his peak.

Since then, Wisconsin has become stale, unimaginative, and in many ways, broken. Whatever you want to call it, UW has taken steps backward.

After accumulating four 10+win seasons in five years, the Badgers haven’t won the Big Ten West in three years – a sentence I never thought I would utter given the trajectory UW was on a few seasons ago.

The Answer to Wisconsin’s problems, at least in the mind of UW athletic director Chris McIntosh, was hiring Cincinnati HC Luke Fickell.

Today, Badger Notes lists three reasons hiring coach Fickell was the right move for the Wisconsin football program.

1. He’s a proven commodity

The heart wanted Jim Leonhard as Wisconsin’s next head coach for obvious reasons, but the head understands that hiring Luke Fickell was a no-brainer.

Fickell, the reigning National Coach of the Year, who is only 49 years old, has as good of a resume as you’ll find in college football.

In six seasons with the Bearcats, he compiled a 57-18 overall record, winning two AAC Championships (2020, 2021) with Cincinnati, and became the first Group of Five football coach to lead his program to the College Football Playoffs in 2021.

And if you want to take it a step further, he took a team comprised of two and three-star recruits that he developed to college football’s final four and didn’t look outclassed against Nick Saban and Alabama.

Let’s call a spade a spade; this man was on the short-list for just about every Power 5 job that would come open – the fact that Wisconsin landed him is both a surprise and a blessing.

Nobody knows if these things will work out, but this is a grand-slam hire for UW on paper.

2. Luke Fickell’s core principles align with Wisconsin football

Albeit slightly different from an aesthetic, Luke Fickell’s core principles mirror the University of Wisconsin’s – a sentiment echoed by AD Chris McIntosh.

“My objective is not to change that [Wisconsin’s identity],” Fickell told UW reporters. “My objective is to try and find ways to grow it and enhance it … I wouldn’t expect it to be much of any different or change in those ways of it being the tough, hard-nosed kind of guys that have made this place special.”

Luke Fickell understands games are won and lost in the trenches, values offensive line play is a defensive-minded coach, and has Midwest roots. He already sounds like a “Wisconsin guy” to me.

He’s a program builder who wants the foundation of his team built on recruiting hard-nosed local players and utilizing his strong track record of player development to field a winner. He acknowledged he’s willing to use the transfer portal to fill gaps on the roster, but it’s not a preferred method of roster construction.

So, it’s not like he’s going to reinvent the wheel here, and quite frankly, I’m not sure UW needs that. He can, however, bring an outside voice with a different perspective to a program that needs fresh ideas.

3. Known for player development

Wisconsin has been a recruit-and-develop program for as long as I can remember. And anyone who follows this program closely knows that’s an area they’ve faltered in recently – Jim Leonhard acknowledged as much this season.

Coach Fickell is known for his player development. At Cincinnati, a school I’d argue has less talent at its disposal; he’s had a player selected in the NFL draft every season since becoming the head coach in 2017.

Since 2020, he’s had players like Josiah Deguara, Sauce Gardner, Alec Pierce, Bryan Cook, Desmond Riddler, and Myjai Sanders all selected in the first three rounds.

Last season, the Bearcats had nine players selected in the 2022 NFL draft, which was third behind only LSU and Georgia.

He recruits local talent and gets the most out of them. UW will always be a developmental program at its core, and, in my opinion, the Badgers just picked up one of America’s most recognizable player development coaches. It’s hard not to be excited about that.

Twitter reacts to Wisconsin football hiring Luke Fickell as next HC


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Oct 8, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; A general view of a Wisconsin Badgers helmet during a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official, Wisconsin football announces its next head coach

It’s official, Wisconsin football announces its next head coach

Madison, Wis. – On Sunday night, the University of Wisconsin football program made it official, Luke Fickell, who coached at Cincinnati for the past six seasons, will be the next head coach of the Badgers. 

“This is a destination job at a program that I have admired from afar for years,” Fickell said. “I am in total alignment with Chris McIntosh’s vision for this program. There is a tremendous foundation here that I can’t wait to build upon.”

The news of Wisconsin’s interest in Fickell was first reported by ESPN’s senior college football writer Pete Thamel Sunday morning and was later confirmed by Tom Oates.

Luke Fickell’s Resume

Fickell, 49 years old, was an assistant at Ohio State for 14 seasons before accepting a head coaching position with the University of Cincinnati.

In six seasons with the Bearcats, he compiled a 57-18 overall record, winning two AAC Championships (2020, 2021) with Cincinnati, and became the first Group of Five football program to claim a College Football Playoff birth in 2021.

He was a three-time AAC Coach of the Year (2018, 2020, 2021) and essentially won every National Coach of the Year award in 2021.

Wisconsin’s Athletic department is all in…

This hiring of Fickell is a clear message from UW AD Chris McIntosh that the expectation is for the Badgers to compete for Big Ten titles and push for an appearance in the college football playoffs. Anything less moving forward will be unacceptable.

In Fickell, Wisconsin football is getting one of the most recognizable program builders/player development coaches in America. Last season, the Bearcats had nine players selected in the 2022 NFL draft, which was third behind only LSU and Georgia.


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Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell looks on in the third quarter of the NCAA Football game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Cincinnati Bearcats defeated South Florida Bulls 28-24. South Florida Bulls At Cincinnati Bearcats 573

REPORT: Wisconsin football finalizing deal to make Luke Fickell next HC

REPORT: Wisconsin football finalizing deal to make Luke Fickell next HC

Madison, Wis. – In a shocking turn of events, the Wisconsin Badgers have reportedly spurned interim head coach Jim Leonhard, who was widely expected to get the full-time gig and hired Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell as the next head coach at UW.

The news of Wisconsin’s pursuit was first reported by ESPN’s senior college football writer Pete Thamel and later confirmed by Tom Oates.

For those unfamiliar with Fickell’s resume, he played for Ohio State from 1993-96 and later coached there from 2002-16 before accepting a head coaching position with the University of Cincinnati in 2017.

In six seasons with the Bearcats, he compiled a 57-18 overall record, winning two AAC Championships (2020, 2021), taking the program to an NY6 bowl in 2020, and even led Cincinnati to the College Football Playoffs in 2021, becoming the first Group of Five football program to claim a CFP berth.

Fickell, an Ohio native, won the AAC Coach of the Year three times (2018, 2020, 2021) in six seasons and essentially won every single National Coach of the Year award in 2021 for his impressive campaign with the Bearcats – vaulting him to the top of most Power 5 program wishlists.

What this means for Wisconsin football 

First and foremost, hiring Luke Fickell as the next head coach of the Wisconsin football program has certain connotations. This hiring is a clear message from UW AD Chris McIntosh that the expectation is for the Badgers to compete for Big Ten titles and push for an appearance in the college football playoffs. Anything less was going to be unacceptable.

Its been reported that UW reached out earlier this week to gauge his interest in the head coaching job, as they should have, considering he’s one of the top 10-15 coaches in the country. If you can land a proven commodity like Fickell, it’s a no-brainer for the University of Wisconsin.

Player development has fallen off in recent years at UW, something that interim head coach Jim Leonhard noted during the season. In Fickell, UW is getting one of the most recognizable program builders/player development coaches in America. Last season, the Bearcats had nine players selected in the 2022 NFL draft, which was third behind only LSU and Georgia.

The department will give Fickelll more resources than he had at UC to build Wisconsin into what we all know it can become.

My initial thoughts on the hiring of Luke Fickell

My initial reaction to Luke Fickell becoming the next head coach of the Wisconsin football program was, “holy shit, LET’S GO!”

Jim Leonhard would have been a terrific hire for UW; I think we can all agree on that. However, this move is great for UW and goes against the so-called “status quo” of hiring people with ties to the program.

Could a mass exodus of current Wisconsin Badgers players happen? Yes. Is it possible that he brings some of his already established talent and recruits (he has the No. 26 ranked class according to 247Sports) to UW? Also yes.

The program will endure an overhaul in the coming months – I just ask that fans sit back and enjoy the chaos that’s about to ensue. Good, bad, or otherwise, this is happening.

College football has changed significantly in the past couple of seasons, and UW is an elite landing spot – even if we’ve convinced ourselves it’s not. If you don’t change with the times, you get left behind, and that’s something Chris McIntosh wasn’t willing to let happen.

It’s a ballsy move, no doubt. But I like it—a LOT—home run hire.


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Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: X-Factors For Badgers Against Minnesota

Wisconsin Football: X-Factors For Badgers Against Minnesota

Madison, Wis. –  You can throw everything that’s happened this season out the window; this one is for the Axe. 

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who are looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Here are three X-factors for the Badgers when they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. 

QB Graham Mertz 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on during a time out against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The past three weeks have been anything but ideal for Wisconsin Badgers starting quarterback Graham Mertz, totaling 336 passing yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. 

In short, he’s damn near been a liability. Yes, he’s been playing hurt, and I commend him for that, but if you’re going to be on the field, you have to produce, no excuses. 

If UW is going to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, they’ll need the Kansas native to take care of the football and make a few plays in the passing game. The Gophers have the No. 3 run defense and No. 4 passing defense in the Big Ten, so they’ll need QB1 to be a net positive in the regular season finale.

Wisconsin’s run defense

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 30: Keeanu Benton #95 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after a fumble recovery during the first half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Minnesota enters Saturday’s contest averaging 229.5 rushing yards per game, good for the second most in the conference. Simply put, the Gophers’ offense lives and dies by the running game – sound familiar?

If UW is going to win this grind-it-out matchup against their rivals to the north, they’ll need their run defense to bottle up star tailback Mo Ibrahim. Unfortunately, nobody has figured out how to do that, considering Ibrahim has toppled 100+ yards rushing and scored in every game this season. 

Over the past four games, however, Jim Leonhard’s defense has allowed an average of 85 rushing yards per game and is playing its best ball of the season. 

What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? We’re about to find out. But one thing is certain: Wisconsin’s run defense will be an X-factor in Saturday’s showdown. 

The Wisconsin Badgers stable of RBs

Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) and Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) have a laugh as part of Wisconsin Badgers football media day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Badgers Media Day 0853

Star running back Braelon Allen has a hurt shoulder and is playing through tremendous pain – that much is apparent. Despite the injury, he’s still doing everything he can to spark UW’s offense.

Thankfully, backup RB Chez Mellusi returned last week against Nebraska and ran for 98 yards on 21 carries after missing the past month due to an injury of his own. More importantly, he looked outstanding and ran with intention.

I have no doubt that he and Isaac Guerendo, who has home-run potential, will each receive touches. If UW’s offensive line comes to play and can wear down Minnesota in the trenches, the Badgers’ three-headed monster at tailback could steal the show.


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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to take the snap against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

ESPN’s FPI projection for Wisconsin Badgers contest vs. Minnesota

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) enter Saturday’s home game against the Minnesota Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) as 3-point favorites and are looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe after losing it in last seasons Border Battle.

Ahead of Saturday’s matchup, ESPN’s FPI model gives Wisconsin a 53.6% chance of winning at home against Minnesota at Camp Randall.

This projection seems about right, especially given both programs have an undying hatred for one another.

These programs, at least in their current state, are very similar. Each team is top-12 in the country in total defense and relies heavily on running the football.

Both programs have underachieved in their own right, but one thing I know for sure, this is going to be a low-scoring, grind-it-out, Big Ten defensive battle.

Fresh off a loss to Iowa, PJ Fleck and company enter Saturday’s contest with the Big Ten’s No. 2 rushing attack and defense in the conference, allowing only 13.1 points per game.

Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers are looking to build off last weekend’s fourth-quarter comeback over Nebraska and ride their three-headed monster of Braelon Allen, Chez Mellusi, and Isaac Guerendo at tailback to a victory in the regular season finale.

For Wisconsin, I’d love to see the Badgers come out and take some chances on offense-really lay it out there. They’re already bowl eligible, and for several coaches on the staff, this is their last audition to keep their jobs heading into the offseason.

I’ll take Wisconsin in a close, low-scoring affair at home.


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Nov 19, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Wisconsin Badgers interim head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a play during the fourth quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: 3 Reasons beating Minnesota is SO important

Madison, Wis. – Well, ladies and gents, it’s been a roller-coaster season for Wisconsin football thus far, but it’s finally Axe week. 

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who are looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Here’s a look at three reasons beating the Minnesota Gophers is so damn important…

Wisconsin football vs. Minnesota is CFB’s longest-running rivalry game

Every season, Badger fans circle the Minnesota Gophers game on the schedule regardless of circumstance. The Border Battle began back in 1890, and they have played in all but one year since, with the Badgers currently holding a 62-61-8 all-time series advantage.

Tradition matters in college athletics, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many rivalries as cherished as this one. 

Minnesota currently has Paul Bunyan’s Axe

It absolutely pained me to type out that last sentence. PJ Fleck should never, and I mean NEVER, be in possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Since the trophy was created, Wisconsin has compiled a 45-26-3 record in the Border Battle and even held it for 14 straight seasons between 2004-2017.

After last season’s 23-13 defeat at the hands of the Gophers, UW is out for revenge, and despite the disappointing season the Badgers have had, all will be right in the world if the Axe returns to its rightful home in Madison.

The Jim Leonhard situation

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After last weekend’s fourth-quarter comeback against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, University of Wisconsin brass had officially seen enough.

Several hours after the game, UW posted the Wisconsin football head coaching job – which legally needs to be up for seven days before naming Paul Chryst’s successor (spoiler alert: it’s Jim Leonhard, and it always has been).

Everyone knows Wisconsin AD Chris McIntosh will remove coach Leonhard’s interim tag sometime this weekend. However, there is no arguing that naming him the program’s head coach will be SO much sweeter coming off a victory over Minnesota in the regular season finale.


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 01: Assistant coach Jim Leonhard of the Wisconsin Badgers calls out instruction to his defense in the second quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

What Wisconsin Badgers HC Jim Leonhard had to say about the Minnesota Gophers

Madison, Wis. – This weekend, the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, host the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale.

College football’s longest-running rivalry began back in 1890, and the Badgers currently hold a 62-61-8 all-time series advantage in the Border Battle. 

Before the two programs face off this weekend, here’s a look at what interim head coach Jim Leonhard had to say about the Gophers and what it means to those involved.

“You just know the records don’t matter. You go in there; it’s going to be a physical game; you have to earn it; you got to take it away. That’s the fun part about rivalries to me; it doesn’t matter. Banged up. Healthy. Struggling. Playing well. You know you go out there and win it; go earn a win. I’ve always respected this program, I don’t like them, right, but I respect them because they have an identity, they know who they are, and they are going to force you to beat them very similar to what we are. It’s going to be a fun experience on Saturday, and we need to get out of there with a win.”

Coach Leonhard’s thoughts on Wisconsin’s loss to Minnesota in 2021

“I think they out physicalled us last year, and they finished. We had the lead going into halftime, and they finished. They made plays in the second half to swing the game and create momentum, and put us on our heels. We couldn’t overcome it. I already mentioned they are okay with shortening the game, playing tough, playing field position, finding ways to create turnovers, and make it a second-half game. We have to dominate the line of scrimmage, which is going to be different this week because it is going to be a slugfest. You have to make plays; you have to make big plays on the perimeter, in the run game, in the pass game, you have to create turnovers; that’s what is going to get it done.”

You can watch coach Leonhard’s entire press conference in the video below:


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 17: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores on a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Jim Leonhard provides injury update on Braelon Allen, plan to manage workload

Jim Leonhard provides injury update on Braelon Allen, plan to manage workload

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) snuck past the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14 on the road Saturday afternoon behind a dominant rushing attack.

The three-headed monster of Braelon Allen, Chez Mellusi, and Isaac Guerendo led the way, carrying the ball 52 times for 239 yards. UW won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 14 minutes.

A word from Wisconsin Badgers head coach, Jim Leonhard

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

After the game, coach Leonhard acknowledged that Allen, his star tailback, has been nursing a left shoulder injury and discussed a plan to manage his workload moving forward.

“We have to be smart with him. We know what he’s going through. If he’s banged up it’s probably not getting better until this thing ends off, so trying to be smart. Having Chez back will be a huge help,” Leonard told reporters.

“Because he’s a warrior, he wants to play, he wants every touch, he doesn’t want to come off the field. Just proud of him, of what he’s going through, but we have to continue to be smart with how we use him, when we use him. And I think that affects how he finishes runs which, for a big back, his style of play, the way he finishes, the punishing style that he has, we want him to do that, but he’s only got so many hits in that body every week right now.”

Thus far, the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native has carried the ball 207 times for 1,126 yards (5.4 YPC) and 10 touchdowns. Additionally, he has a career-high 11 catches for 104 yards receiving.

UW is fortunate to have two capable backs behind Allen in Chez Mellusi, who just returned from injury, and Isaac Guerendo, both of which can lighten his workload.


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