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Wisconsin Football Must Resurrect Its Run Game to Reclaim the Axe

Wisconsin football needs to run the damn ball to reclaim the Axe.

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Wisconsin Badgers football running back Braelon Allen
Nov 18, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during overtime against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In their quest to regain the coveted Paul Bunyan’s Axe and break free from a two-year losing streak to the Minnesota Gophers, the Wisconsin Badgers Football team faces a pivotal challenge: resurrecting their running game.

For two consecutive years, the Badgers have felt the sting of defeat against their archrivals from the North, and a significant factor contributing to these losses has been the lack of a formidable ground offense. 

Last season, injuries hampered star running back Braelon Allen, impeding the team’s ability to play complimentary football despite valiant efforts from Chez Mellusi and now Louisville Cardinal Isaac Guerendo.

In 2021, although Allen played during the Axe game with the Big Ten West on the line, he struggled under the weight of that injury, managing a mere 47 yards with a dismal 2.8 yards-per-carry average. Clearly, he wasn’t healthy enough to make a meaningful impact in the run game. 

Wisconsin Football Needs to Run the Damn Ball vs Minnesota 

Last week, while Wisconsin football accrued a total of 156 rushing yards, the yards-per-carry barely hovered below four. 

Tanner Mordecai’s mobility contributed 51 yards, but it was Braelon Allen’s two crucial touchdowns that propelled the Badgers to a come-from-behind victory against Nebraska in overtime. 

However, a looming concern arises as Allen, for the third consecutive year — he might not be at full strength for the clash against the Gophers.

Despite his 22 carries against the Cornhuskers, his 62-yard output hints at his potential incapacity — despite the grit he showed in meaningful moments. 

Although his participation in the regular season finale appears likely, doubts linger about his ability to bolster the team’s ground performance in a meaningful way. 

Wisconsin’s offense, touted as an “air raid,” hasn’t secured victories in games where the running aspect struggled.

As the showdown against Minnesota nears, the Badgers’ aspirations for the Axe hinge profoundly on reestablishing their running game. To reclaim the Axe, Wisconsin Football must rediscover its ground dominance and execute a robust rushing strategy against the formidable Gophers.

In the face of this upcoming challenge, the Badgers recognize that revitalizing their running game isn’t just about the Axe; it’s about reclaiming their competitive edge and signaling a resurgence in their football dominance.



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Trevor Lovec is a freelance sports writer, BadgerNotes.com correspondent, and a diehard Northern Iowa fan. He covers Wisconsin football & basketball, plus a little Badgers recruiting for Badgernotes.com.

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