PROVO, Utah — Just as the University of Wisconsin football team kicked into gear with a 40-6 blowout of BYU on Saturday, the Badgers are now set to take a week off before beginning Big Ten play against Northwestern on Sept. 30.
Despite UW’s momentum-building victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium, though, the placement of this bye week may serve the Badgers well as an opportunity to get some key players healthier and assess where the team stands just before the conference season begins.
“I think it comes at a good time, right before Big Ten play,” UW inside linebacker Chris Orr said. "It’s going to be physical from here on out throughout the rest of the season. No more breaks after this, so I think it’s time that you get your body right as much as you can before we start Big Ten play."
Starting left guard Jon Dietzen missed Saturday’s game against BYU with a right leg injury. Right guard Beau Benzschawel and running back Bradrick Shaw both played after entering the weekend questionable, but those two still may benefit from an extra week of rest. Shaw only carried the ball four times for 19 yards against the Cougars.
UW defensive end Chikwe Obasih, a key piece up front defensively who has started 31 games in his career, continues recovering from a left leg injury. Wide receiver George Rushing and running back Taiwan Deal are also nursing multiple-week injuries suffered during fall camp.
Even if Obasih, Rushing and Deal aren’t able to return for the Northwestern game at month’s end, a week off early in the season buys them some time without missing an extra game.
"We’ve got to take advantage of the bye week,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. "We’ve got a few guys that are banged up and (can) get them hopefully healthier. … We’ve got to do a good job of being smart about how we approach next week."
The timing of this year’s bye week for UW falls at a natural point between non-conference and conference play.
One of the Badgers’ major goals this season — and really every season — is winning the Big Ten West division, and they’ll be able to spend an extra week cleaning up their mistakes from the first three weeks prior to beginning the games that will count towards that objective.
“It’s tough. (The bye week) changes every year,” UW inside linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "But it’s going to be nice, going into Big Ten play, to really get a head start and then get your legs back. It’s going to be good for us."
Some coaches may prefer a bye week located closer to the midway point of the schedule, while getting a rest later in the season certainly has its benefits as well.
Chryst said he doesn’t waste his day pondering which week’s better than another. The placement of the bye week is a variable the Badgers can’t control, so they’ll try to optimize their time off regardless of where it falls on the calendar.
“It’s good for us this year,” Chryst said. "Really didn’t spend any time or will I trying to analyze if it’s good timing. It’s our timing and we’ll make it good."