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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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 23: Chucky Hepburn #23 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after Steven Crowl #22 made a three-point shot against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half of the game at Williams Arena on February 23, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Basketball: 3 Takeaways From Win Over USC

Three games in three days. That’s what Wisconsin basketball signed up for when they accepted the invitation to play in the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis.

After yesterday’s heartbreaking loss at the buzzer against No. 3 Kansas, UW (5-1) won a back-and-fourth game against USC, defeating the Trojans 64-59 behind a 17-point bounce-back performance from sophomore point guard Chucky Hepburn.

UW also got meaningful contributions from Tyler Wahl, who finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, and three assists, along with freshman Connor Essegian who scored 12 of his own, knocking down four three-pointers.

What we learned about this team during the three-day holiday tournament should give Badgers fans plenty of hope for the future.

Here are my takeaways from Wisconsin’s win over USC…

Chucky Hepburn bounced back in a major way

Nobody entered today’s contest needing to see the ball go in more than Chucky Hepburn, who came in shooting a paltry 26.8% from the field.

It’s been painfully evident that Hepburn’s forced the issue thus far and needed to slow things down and let the game come to him.

Against the Trojans, Hepburn finished with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, connected on a trio of threes, recorded two steals, and matched a season-low one turnover in 31 minutes.

The biggest play of the game for Hepburn came up 62-59 with 20 seconds remaining. Needing one last stop, the Nebraska native put a bow on UW’s third-place finish by picking the pocket of USC’s best player, Drew Peterson, and taking it the other way for an easy bucket, putting the game out of reach.

Wisconsin had a balanced offensive attack

With Johnny Davis off to the NBA, coach Gard and company needed a more balanced offensive approach in 2022-23. Against USC, it took everyone to squeak out a win.

UW finished the game shooting 44.6% from the field, which was the first time shooting above 40% since the season opener against South Dakota. The Badgers played inside out and connected on 10-of-24 three-point attempts (41.7%), with five players knocking one down. Additionally, seven of the nine players that entered the game scored, and five had eight points or more.

It’s always good to see Wisconsin win by playing a balanced brand of basketball.

Connor Essegian is the truth

I don’t have enough good things to say about Connor Essegian. Despite having just six games under his belt, the true freshman has already become Wisconsin’s third scoring option behind Wahl and Hepburn.

He finished in double-figures in all three games during the Battle 4 Atlantis, works his tail off on defense (although he still needs work), and continues to eat into Jordan Davis’ minutes.

There is no telling how high of a ceiling he has, but I look forward to watching coach Gard find ways to get him shots in this offense. He’s a critical piece of the puzzle moving forward.


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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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KTNYFB Madison, WI, USA. 27th Dec, 2017. A basketball lies on the court before the NCAA Basketball game between the Chicago State Cougars and the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI. Wisconsin defeated Chicago State 82-70. John Fisher/CSM/Alamy Live News

Wisconsin Basketball suffers heartbreaking OT loss to No. 3 Kansas

Wisconsin Basketball suffers heartbreaking OT loss to No. 3 Kansas

Wisconsin basketball knuckled up with the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks and left it all on the floor only to lose on a heartbreaking putback at the buzzer in OT, losing 69-68.

Head coach Greg Gard and the Wisconsin Badgers (4-1) might not be heading to the Battle 4 Atlantis championship, but there are a ton of positives UW can build on moving forward.

With 15:48 remaining in the second half, UW found themselves down 15, and even I’ll admit, I thought they were dead in the water.

Try telling that to Wisconsin, who fought back tooth and nail behind a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double from senior forward Tyler Wahl and a career-high 17 points from freshman wonder boy Connor Essegian.

“For this early in the season, a great test for us,” said Gard. “We’re not into moral victories, but this group showed me a lot today. There are a lot of things that we can get better at.”

Wofford transfer Max Klesmit played arguably his best game in a Wisconsin uniform, chipping in 13 points of his own on 4-of-6 shooting and playing stingy D all afternoon.

With Wahl in foul trouble, junior forward Carter Gilmore provided some quality minutes, acting as a connector who understood his role.

Wisconsin’s defense showed out yet again, holding KU to 38.7% shooting from the field, but the real difference came on the glass, where the Jayhawks finished with a 53-35 advantage (14 offensive).

No matter which way you slice it, this one hurts. Wisconsin was one second away from one of the biggest non-conference wins in school history. But coach Gard learned a lot about the grit and resolve of his team.

The offense has some areas it needs to clean up, sure, but they’re taking care of the basketball, and now, they’ve proved they can play with anyone.

Spoiler alert: UW will finish better than ninth in the Big Ten this season.

What comes next

Wisconsin will play the loser of No. 22 Tennessee and USC in Friday’s third-place game.


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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 – 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)

Wisconsin Football: What to Expect vs. Minnesota in week 13

Wisconsin Football: What to Expect vs. Minnesota in Week 13

The Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) host the Minnesota Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) in the last game of the regular season.  This Saturday will be the 132nd time these two teams have played against each other.  Both teams are out in the running for the Big Ten West, but there is plenty at stake with Paul Bunyan’s Axe.  Wisconsin Football is looking to get the axe back in Madison and bragging rights over their oldest rival.

Here is what to expect…


Offensively

The Badgers will want to run the ball all game.  Braelon Allen left late in the game vs. Nebraska with a right leg injury, but initial indications point to him playing this week.  With all three backs for the Badgers healthy, I expect them to be a part of the game plan.  Minnesota is stingy vs. the run, only giving up 102.5 yards per game.  This will be a game of field position, and the more successful the Badgers can run the ball, the better they will be.

Everyone knows Wisconsin’s identity and game plan regarding the offense, but the passing game has to be better. Minnesota gives up 172.1 yards per game which is fourth in the Big Ten vs. the pass.  Graham Mertz will have to take care of the ball and not force it.  Playing disciplined and patient will be critical to the Badger’s success.

Defensively

Minnesota is one of the top teams in the nation running the ball.  Minnesota’s senior running back Mohamed Ibrahim leads the charge with 1524 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground.  Their game plan is much like the Badgers; they want to run the ball.  Ibrahim is physical and runs with great vision.  The Badgers will have to get after it defensively and not give up anything easy.

The Badgers will be without Nick Herbig in the first half of this game due to the targeting call against Nebraska.  This game will be won in the trenches, and senior Keanu Benton will be called on to lead the way.  Minnesota is not a great passing team, but they protect the quarterback well.  They have only given up ten sacks on the year.  The Badgers need to win early and get them in obvious passing situations.

Conclusion

I expect this game to be anything other than pretty.  The total for the game is only 34.5 points.  Both teams want to run the ball and limit errors.  Though it looks like it won’t be a flashy game, you must love the old-school rivalry. Fueled by hatred and Pual Bunyan’s Axe, expect this to be a good game.


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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

Wisconsin Football: Week 13 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game Vs. Minnesota

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin football officially released its two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its 12th game vs. the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 13:


Offensive Two-Deep

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Starter: Graham Mertz (RS JR)

Backup: Chase Wolf (RS SR)

Running Back

Starter: Braelon Allen (SO)

Backup: Chez Mellusi (SR)

Fullback

Starter: Jackson Acker (RS FR)

Backup: Riley Nowakowski (RS SO)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Chimere Dike (JR)

Backup: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Skyler Bell (RS FR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)

Tight End

Starter: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Backup: Jack Eschenbach (RS SR)

Left Tackle

Starter: Jack Nelson (RS SO)

Backup: Nolan Rucci (RS FR)

Left Guard

Starter: Tanor Bortolini (RS SO)

Backup: Tyler Beach (RS SR)

Center

Starter: Joe Tippmann (RS JR)

Backup: Dylan Barrett (RS SO)

Right Guard

Starter: Trey Wedig (RS SO)

Backup: Michael Furtney (RS SR)

Right Tackle 

Starter: Riley Mahlman (RS FR)

Backup: Trey Wedig (RS SO)


Defensive Two-Deep

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)

Defensive End

Starter: Rodas Johnson (RS JR)

Backup: Cade McDonald (RS SO)

Nose Tackle

Starter: Keeanu Benton (SR)

Backup: Gio Paez (RS JR)

Defensive End 

Starter: Isaiah Mullens (RS SR)

Backup: James Thompson Jr. (RS SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: Nick Herbig (JR)

Backup: Kaden Johnson (RS SO)

Inside Linebacker 

Starter: Jordan Turner (RS SO)

Backup: Tatum Grass (RS JR)

Inside Linebacker

Starter: Maema Njongmeta (RS JR)

Backup: Jake Chaney (SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: C.J. Goetz (RS SR)

Backup: Darryl Peterson (RS FR)

Cornerback

Starter: Alexander Smith (RS SR)

Backup: Ricardo Hallman (RS FR)

Cornerback 

Starter: Jay Shaw (RS SR)

Backup: Justin Clark (RS SR)

Nickel Corner

Starter: Cedrick Dort Jr. (RS SR)

Backup: Max Lofy (RS SO)

Strong Safety

Starter: John Torchio (RS SR)

Backup: Titus Toler (RS JR)

Free Safety 

Starter: Kamo’i Latu (RS JR)

Backup: Hunter Wohler (SO)


Special Teams Two-Deep

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Punter

Starter: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Backup: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Field Goals

Starter: Nate Van Zelst (RS FR)

Backup: Gavin Lahm (FR)

Kickoff

Starter: Jack Van Dyke (JR)

Backup: Gavin Lahm (FR)

Long-Snapper

Starter: Peter Bowden (RS JR)

Backup: Zach Zei (RS FR)

Holder

Starter: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Backup: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Punt Return

Starter: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Backup: Chimere Dike (JR)

Kick Return

Starter: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)


Wisconsin Football Injury Report vs. Minnesota

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • OLB Aaron Witt – Leg (Right)

 Out for the season:

  • CB Al Ashford – Leg (Left)
  • S Travian Blaylock – Leg (Right)
  • TE Clay Cundiff – Leg (Left)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • TE Cam Large – Leg (Right)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)


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Wisconsin Badgers RB Chez Mellusi reveals plans for 2023 season

Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi reveals his plans for the 2023 season

The Wisconsin Badgers have received some exciting news.

In news reported by Evan Flood, Badgers running back Chez Mellusi announced he will be returning for the 2023 season.

Mellusi’s announcement is big for Wisconsin as they will keep their dynamic duo intact. Braelon Allen has been the highlight in the Badgers rushing attack, but Mellusi has played a vital role.

Mellusi returned to action last Saturday in a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In his first action since week six, the senior back posted 98 yards on the ground. Mellusi led the team in rushing and seemed to get back into his pre-injury form.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound tailback has excelled in his role as a backup in his time with the Badgers. Mellusi has logged 321 yards rushing yards and one touchdown in seven games this season. Additionally, the Clemson transfer has hauled in two catches for 25 yards and a receiving touchdown.

Although injuries have kept him out for extended time in his two years at Wisconsin, he has still managed to carve out his role as a formidable RB2.

Mellusi has been a key contributor to Wisconsin’s rushing attack. With his return in 2023, the storied Wisconsin tradition of talented running backs will continue.

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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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