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October 15, 2013

Hot 11: Northwestern

After a year-long hiatus, the BadgerBlitz.com Hot 11 is back for the 2013 season. This has always been a popular feature, so I'm glad to bring it back for Gary Andersen's first season as Wisconsin's head coach.

Just as a reminder, the rankings are based on individual play and a player's season-long momentum. A bad game won't knock a player all the way off the list, but new players will jump on to the list and rise and fall as the season moves along. These are my personal rankings, so be sure to head over to The Badger's Den if you want to submit a list of your own!

BadgerBlitz.com Hot 11
Rank Player The Word Last Game
1 Melvin Gordon, RB Gordon was obviously back to full strength against Northwestern- the sophomore rushed for 176 yards and scored a touchdown after the Wildcats shut down Wisconsin's running game for all of three possessions. Gordon carved up a soft run defense and it was enough to put him back up to the top spot in our Hot 11. 3
2 Chris Borland, ILB Borland led the Badgers with eight tackles against the Wildcats, including one sack for six yards. He also broke up a pass and got another hit on the quarterback, and was generally always near the ball. Borland also gave a pre-game speech to the defense, and whatever he said should probably be bottled up and used again. 2
3 James White, RB White played second-fiddle to Gordon as far as carries go, but the senior got himself involved in the game by rushing for 108 yards and one touchdown. White also had three catches for 29 yards, giving Joel Stave another solid target after Abbrederis left the game. I'm expecting White to get more targets as the season moves along. 5
4 Jared Abbrederis, WR Abbrederis left the game with a head injury before halftime, but not before he caught two passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers moved the ball without Abbrederis, but they expect him to be healthy enough to play this week against Illinois. There's no replacing Abbrederis, though- they need him on the field for the offense to play at its best. 1
5 Joel Stave, QB Stave drops a bit after an up and down day where he threw three touchdowns and two interceptions. Only one of those interceptions was really his fault, but the Badgers need him to cut down on some of those turnovers if they want to keep themselves on track this season. So far this season Stave is completing 61.8 percent of his passes, and has thrown 11 touchdowns to 6 INTs. 4
6 Conor O'Neill, ILB O'Neill started the game for the Badgers instead of Derek Landisch, and it doesn't seem like the senior wants to let go of the starting spot. O'Neill Made just one tackle in the game- a sack for one yard, but he's been a big factor in Wisconsin's defense so far this season and I expect it to stay that way. 6
7 Sojourn Shelton, CB Not bad for a freshman -- Shelton leads the Badgers with three interceptions this season, and played a solid game at quarterback along with the other defensive backs. Shelton has found a way to make plays in almost every game so far this season, and having playmakers at cornerback will be a big help for the Badgers in the future. N/A
8 Vince Biegel, OLB Biegel makes it back in to the Hot 11 after getting another sack and breaking up a pass against the Wildcats. Biegel also made a big special teams tackle to keep the Wildcats behind their 25-yard line on a kickoff return, and coaches have been raving about him in a specialized pass-rushing role. Biegel brings a lot of juice to the defense, and I'm expecting him to see the field a lot moving forward. N/A
9 Pat Muldoon, DE Muldoon had another great game for the Badgers at defensive end- he sacked the quarterback once and force a fumble early on in the game. Muldoon and the defensive line had a great game against the Wildcats as a whole- they collapsed the pocket and made the quarterback uncomfortable- getting sacks and other stats like that are just gravy after that. N/A
10 Michael Caputo, FS Caputo didn't get in on the action in Northwestern's backfield, but I'm interested to see what he can do as a hybrid safety/outside linebacker moving forward. The Badgers are obviously comfortable with McEvoy at safety for now, which means they can afford to be a little more creative with Caputo moving forward. 10
11 Jacob Pedersen, TE Pedersen was Stave's top target after Abbrederis left the game with a head injury, and the senior tight end caught a few key passes and scored a touchdown to help the Badgers extend an early lead. Pedersen needs to be more involved in the passing game, and Saturday's game was a good step after he missed the Ohio State game with an injury. N/A

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.

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