8 p.m., Oct. 29 TV: ABC (Channel 6), ESPN or ESPN2 Ohio Stadium (102,329)

Coach: Bret Bielema, sixth season (49-16 at school and overall)

Last year: 11-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten (tie, first); lost to TCU 21-19 in Rose Bowl

Returning stars

James White and Montee Ball backed up John Clay last season and still finished among the Big Ten's top 10 rushers and averaged more than 6 yards per carry, more than any other Big Ten running backs. Injuries cost receiver Nick Toon four games and had him less than full speed the rest of the season, but he has 90 catches for 1,264 yards the past two years. Kamikaze linebacker Chris Borland was Big Ten freshman of the year in 2009 before missing all but the first five quarters of last season and having surgery on both shoulders.

Newcomer to watch

The conference's most-watched newcomer will be quarterback Russell Wilson, runner-up for Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year who was released from his scholarship by North Carolina State after he chose to play minor-league baseball rather than participate in spring practice. Having graduated, Wilson was eligible to transfer and play immediately at another Football Bowl Subdivision school. He passed for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns in three seasons with the Wolfpack.

Keys to the offense

With the addition of Wilson, Wisconsin's trademark running game could be even better than a year ago, when it averaged nearly 250 yards per game. Wilson will threaten defenses more than any other Badgers quarterback in recent memory. The line will be massively good, as usual, with three starters returning. The only position that seems vulnerable is receiver, where there is not much proven depth behind Toon.

Keys to the defense

Former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who left for the head coaching job at Northern Illinois. His replacement, secondary coach Chris Ash, plans a simpler, more aggressive and faster defense. Most regulars return, including nine of 10 defensive lineman that could rotate to stay fresh. The secondary returns three starters, including Antonio Fenelus, who had four interceptions in 2010. Borland's return to health is critical as he moves to the middle.

Special teams standouts

Kicker Philip Welch and punter Brad Nortman enter their fourth year as starters. Welch scored 118 points last season and Nortman has a 42.1-yard career average. Any number of speedy replacements are available to succeed return ace David Gilreath, including freshman running back Melvin Gordon.

Question marks

Although the Badgers did not have to replace many players, they did lose five All-Americans. There also is new chemistry to be forged among the coaches, three of whom are new after Bielema lost not only Doeren, but also two others to the NFL.


"Wisconsin is what it is. We're not real sexy. I always say we're not the first girl taken to the prom, but we're not the last," Bielema said. The Badgers are looking like a first pick this season, especially after adding Wilson to a team that claimed its first Big Ten title and BCS bowl appearance in 11 years last season.