- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A split of close games to open Big Ten play has Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst feeling good about his team headed into homecoming weekend for the Badgers.

They’re still in the West Division race in spite of a rash of injuries and a sputtering offense.

“We’ve got to learn how to play in close games and know that the margin of error as you get into Big Ten play is less and less, and there are just so many lessons you can learn from each game,” Chryst said Monday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Top running back Corey Clement is still out following sports hernia surgery. An injury-plagued offensive line has fielded four different lineups in six games for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1).

Chryst said the team’s identity, particularly on offense, remains a work in progress going into this weekend’s game against Purdue.

“The season is a book and each game is a chapter,” he said. “At the end of the season, we’ll know how the book ends, but right now our two Big Ten games have been close.”

Wisconsin’s offense stalled in a 10-6 loss to Iowa in the Big Ten opener before rallying for a last-minute, 23-21 victory at Nebraska on Saturday.

“You’ve got to be resilient. You’ve got to be able to fight through adversity,” senior wide receiver Alex Erickson said. “What’s more important is how we build off it and continue to grow from it.”

Despite its struggles on offense, the Badgers defense remains among the nation’s stingiest. Wisconsin ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense (11.5 points per game) and 12th in total defense (285.8 yards per game).

“I wouldn’t say scrappy but as a defense we like to be a stout type of defense,” safety Michael Caputo said. “We want to be stout and get the ball back to the offense and let the offense get going and get in a rhythm.”

The defense came up big with a three-and-out stand that enabled its offense one last chance at redemption. Rafael Gaglianone atoned for missing a 39-yard field goal with 1:26 left by hitting the game-winner from 46 with 4 seconds to go against the Cornhuskers.

“The offense came through and Rafael (Gaglianone) came through. You’ve got to like a little redemption kick so that was cool,” Caputo said.

NOTES: Chryst said he expects center Dan Voltz, who suffered an arm injury against Nebraska, to be ready to play this week. “We will find out more through practice and all that, but we were told (Monday) it was a sprain, which is good news,” Chryst said. “So it’s a matter of just getting him back, and I think he will have a brace with it but just getting him comfortable with that.” … Chryst was uncertain about the status of running back Taiwan Deal, who was sidelined most of the Nebraska game with an ankle injury.

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Online:

AP College Football site: https://collegefootball.ap.org/


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