Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema is trying a high school motivational tool with tailback Zach Brown, who turned the ball over for the third time in three games at Minnesota last week.
With his team up 24-13 with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter, Brown was stripped and Minnesota's Marcus Sherels scooped up the ball, returning it 88 yards for a touchdown. The Gophers went for two and converted, quickening pulses throughout Badgerland until Wisconsin scored a touchdown a few minutes later.
Bielema told the media Monday he has given Brown a ball to carry with him at all times on campus this week. He also told the junior, "as coaches, you've made us look for other options." That could mean changes this weekend when the Badgers play at ninth-ranked Ohio State.
Brown started against Minnesota, but John Clay's strong performance (184 yards on 32 carries, three touchdowns, no fumbles) in that game may have earned him the number-one spot. The other options Bielema refers to are redshirt freshman Erik Smith and true freshman Montee Ball.
Smith was a high school standout in suburban Chicago, but Ball's high school career in suburban St. Louis was legendary. He rang up over 8,000 career rushing yards and 107 touchdowns. That résumé - combined with his solid 5'11", 230-pound frame - makes him the most highly anticipated freshman to show up in Madison since Ron Dayne.
Wisconsin remains the only undefeated team in the country to be excluded from the AP Top 25. Whether they can break in after this weekend's game may depend on whether they can hang onto the ball.