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MADISON - If Wisconsin is going to get its first road victory of the season, the Badgers are going to accomplish that feat at full strength.
After getting Shelton Johnson back last week in Wisconsin’s 31-14 victory over Illinois, Wisconsin is expected to see redshirt sophomores Peniel Jean and Kyle Costigan return to the field.
“Costigan is back,” said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema Thursday. “He has worked the past few days and he looks really good on that front. He’s an incredibly tough individual. The doctors thought he would make it back, just knowing Costi and how he came through the first time. We are getting back to full strength, and that’s a good thing.”
Costigan injured his knee against Nebraska, but finished the game. He did not play against Illinois.
Jean has been sidelined since breaking his foot the last week of camp and undergoing surgery. Now healed and ready to go, Bielema says there is a chance he might make an appearance in the game Saturday.
“Right now he’s there, just like a reserve,” said Bielema. “It’s been one of those things where he came back a little bit last week, we brought him out, and he wasn’t quite where he needed to be. We did put him on special teams so there is a good chance he will get into the game.”
Bielema also said Tyler Dippel (left arm) will travel with the team and be a game-time decision. Guard Dallas Lewallen will also travel with the team, but only be used in an ‘emergency situation.’
Doe to Start
Replacing Jared Abbrederis while the junior recovered from a concussion, sophomore Kenzel Doe went 82 yards for a touchdown on his second career punt return that changed the momentum against Utah State.
Doe didn’t perform well last weekend, muffing two punts and being replaced by Abbrederis in the second half. This week, Doe is back in the plan.
“Kenzel will start as long as everything looks good.” Bielema said. “I want Kenzel to have that role. I think Abbrederis sees that, too, and can appreciate his first experiences back there. He can bring us a little something; if Abbrederis has a six or seven play series and is a little bit gassed - he can go out there on punt return. I’d rather give (Abbrederis) a rest.”
The numbers don’t lie
If there’s one thing Bielema has learned the past two years at Wisconsin is that it’s vital to perform well on the road to win a championship. When the Badgers won their first conference title in 11 seasons two years ago, the Badgers went 3-1 in conference play on the road, including a win at No.13 Iowa.
Last season, Wisconsin survived back-to-back road losses to win three straight road/neutral games, including a victory over Michigan State in Indianapolis, to successfully defend its title.
“For us, this opportunity again to go on the road to Purdue, a team that I think is a very, very good football team,” said Bielema. “It’s an opportunity I think our guys are excited to jump into.”
The other learning lesson is winning in September and October. The Badgers went 13-3 (.813 percent) in the first two months of the season over the last two years, setting the tone for Wisconsin to go 8-0 the last two Novembers.
“What we have really done in our two championship seasons, is we tried to take care of business in September and October to get to November,” said Bielema. “November is when championships are won. I don’t think this should be any different.
“You have to take care of the meat of your schedule and put yourself in the position to win one. I think there is a misconception out there that it’s your overall Big Ten record that matters most. You have to win Big Ten games - and this is one of them.”
While Wisconsin has been flagged for only 24 penalties (second fewest among teams who have played six games) and ranked fourth nationally at just 4.0 penalties per game, Bielema acknowledged that the average 34 penalty yards being called against his team a game are coming at inopportune times.
In the first half against Illinois, Wisconsin’s offense was flagged for three penalties on first and second down, essentially putting the Badgers well behind the chains early in downs.
We can’t play behind a change offensively and defensively.” Bielema said. “The play on Saturday was a killer. It was a second down play but again makes you play behind the change. The way we are built; that just isn’t in our bag of tricks. When we do get penalized we try to get half of it back and work that at least on offense.”
On playing close road games
“Going back a couple years, we won some close road games. We did it in Illinois, at Fresno State … We weren’t playing very well in that Oregon State game. There were a lot of things that could have made it a win but obviously didn’t. Nebraska we lost our momentum in the late third quarter and early fourth quarter, so I think the emphasis is to play a complete game in order for us to win the game on Saturday.”
UW to have home-and-home with BYU
Badgers fans already knew that Wisconsin and BYU would play each other at Camp Randall Stadium on Nov. 9, 2013. On Thursday, the two schools announced a home-and-home series for 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, UW will make its first visit to Provo, Utah, as the Badgers and Cougars square off in LaVell Edwards Stadium. In 2018, BYU will return to Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin and BYU have been two of the most successful programs in recent history. Since 2006, Bielema’s first season at UW, the Badgers are 64-21 while the Cougars are 64-19. BYU’s winning percentage over that span is 10th-best in the country while Wisconsin’s is 11th. UW has been to a bowl game 10 straight seasons, while BYU’s current streak is seven.
The home-and-home series with BYU is in addition to future home-and-home series Wisconsin has already scheduled with BCS teams Washington State (2014 in Pullman and 2015 in Madison), Virginia Tech (2016 in Blacksburg and 2017 in Madison) and Washington (2018 in Seattle and 2019 in Madison).