Big Ten Battle
With its defense already struggling, Wisconsin now must overcome the loss of one of its biggest offensive weapons.
Missing injured receiver Luke Swan, the No. 19 Badgers look to bounce back from their first loss in more than a year when they visit Big Ten foe Penn State on Saturday.
Swan will miss the rest of the season after suffering a possible career-ending hamstring injury during Wisconsin's 31-26 loss to Illinois last Saturday. Coach Bret Bielema said early indications were there was some separation between the muscle and bone and the only solution is surgery.
"Luke is a great kid," Bielema said. "It was a hard day yesterday. It is tough for everybody."
Swan, a walk-on in 2003 who had no catches in 2004 or 2005, had 595 receiving yards and five touchdowns last season. The senior was the team's second-leading receiver this year with 25 catches and 451 yards, though he had no touchdowns since scoring two in the season opener.
The loss of Swan coincides with the Badgers (5-1, 2-1) falling 14 spots in the rankings following the end of their 14-game winning streak, which had been the nation's longest. Wisconsin also had won nine consecutive Big Ten games.
The Badgers' last loss had been Sept. 23, 2006 at Michigan.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Penn State -7 point spread (View College Football odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 44 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Wisconsin +7 (View College Football bet percentages).
"After the game I was standing on the sidelines and couldn't move for awhile because I'm not used to this," cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said.
Wisconsin had a season-high 519 total yards of offense, but gave up a season-high 289 yards rushing and struggled against Illinois' spread offense. The Badgers have allowed a combined 65 points and 974 yards of total offense over the last two games.
"Until we know how to be disciplined and come together as a team, until we can have some accountability and dependability that we're going to do our job every single play and not go outside what we're supposed to do, we're going to get beat," cornerback Allen Langford said.
Wisconsin ranks 63rd against the run and 50th against the pass after having the nation's fifth-best defense last season.
Badgers quarterback Tyler Donovan threw for 392 yards and two touchdowns last week, but completed only 27 of 49 passes and had two interceptions for the second straight game.
"It's going to hurt him," Bielema said of his quarterback, who didn't speak with reporters after the game. "He's got to be a guy who takes the good with the bad."
Wisconsin has won five of its last seven matchups with the Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2), including a 13-3 victory last season in Madison. The Badgers had won two straight trips to Happy Valley before a 35-14 defeat in 2005, and now they hope to slow down a Penn State offense coming off a solid performance.
The Nittany Lions had 489 yards of total offense last Saturday and got their first conference win, 27-7 over Iowa. Anthony Morelli threw for 233 yards and a touchdown, and Rodney Kinlaw ran for a career-high 168 yards and two scores.
Penn State ran for a season-high 256 yards despite being without first-string tailback Austin Scott, who has been suspended indefinitely for violating an unspecified team rule.
"We've been reading the paper that we can't run the ball, and we were sick of hearing that," fullback Matt Hahn said. "We wanted to challenge ourselves that we can push guys off the ball and run and open holes up and I think we proved that today."
Penn State has won eight straight and 18 of 19 at home, with the only defeat being a 17-10 loss to Michigan on Oct. 14 of last season. In the 18 wins, the Nittany Lions have outscored opponents 610-195.
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
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