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Wisconsin powers through to stretch run

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - One of the top linebackers in the country is sidelined. The best running back in the Big Ten is having a subpar day. The leading receiver leaves with an injury.

No. 21 Wisconsin powers through the problems to keep winning.

For all the big tackles made by linebacker Chris Borland and highlight-reel runs by Melvin Gordon, the Badgers' most impressive trait might be their resilience.

''Whatever comes our way, just keep on fighting and deal with adversity,'' said even-keeled coach Gary Andersen.

Borland hopes to return this week when Wisconsin (6-2) hosts a rare November nonconference game against BYU. Andersen hoped to know more this week about the prognosis for No. 1 wideout Jared Abbrederis, who injured his chest on a touchdown catch in the 28-9 win last week over Iowa.

Wisconsin is also without defensive end Tyler Dippel, who had left the team to deal with an unspecified family situation. The senior is a key member of the team's defensive line rotation.

Andersen said Dippel's situation was uncertain, and that the focus for Dippel was on his family ''and making sure he finishes up school to get his degree and then we'll worry about football.''

The rest of the team has Dippel's back. At the same time, the Badgers have done a commendable job of working through personnel concerns, or not letting tough losses weigh them down for the long haul.

One of Andersen's favorites phrases is ''Nothing ever fazes this team.''

''I think that just comes from the way we prepare. Everything doesn't go perfectly correct,'' quarterback Joel Stave said. ''It's the same mentality in a game, not everything is going to be perfect in a game.''

Like against the Hawkeyes, when Wisconsin overcame a slow start to pull away to a 28-9 victory. Gordon was limited to 62 yards on 17 carries, but James White picked up the slack with 132 yards and two second-half touchdowns on 19 carries.

''Our team has been through all that experience,'' tight end Jacob Pedersen said. ''To really take that and be in a game against a team like Iowa, when our defense is playing really well but offense is struggling, we kind of said, `Hey, we can pick it up.'''

The Badgers have won three straight since the 31-24 loss to Ohio State on Sept. 28. But that defeat especially stings because Wisconsin will need the undefeated Buckeyes to lose twice over the final weeks of the season to have another shot at a Leaders Division title and a trip to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.

Andersen isn't paying attention to the BCS standings. He just wants his team to block out the noise and focus on the next four weeks, starting with BYU on Saturday.

''Those next four games will tell us if we're going to be a good team or a great team. That's what we talk about all the time with the kids,'' Andersen said. ''You've got to grind it out and dig in right now.''


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The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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