Madison, Wis. — No. 9 Wisconsin is turning up the pressure. After swarming Northwestern for eight sacks, the Badgers have their sights set on Nebraska this weekend.
The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) are averaging four sacks per game, tied for fourth nationally and second in the conference. They're also fourth in total defense (247.0 yards a game) and eighth in scoring defense (13.5 points).
Defensive end Alec James said more speed in the secondary has helped the defense across the aboard. Outside linebacker Garret Dooley led the way last week with three sacks.
"The front seven and secondary are complementary. Without them covering the back end, we wouldn't get sacks," he said Monday. "Without us applying pressure, they wouldn't have had picks."
Safety Natrell Jamerson earned Big Ten defensive player of the week honors after recording the first two interceptions of his career against Northwestern, returning one 36 yards for a touchdown, and adding six tackles and a half of a sack.
A year after matching the single-season program record with 22 interceptions, Wisconsin has already picked off seven passes in four games.
"We have guys who are playing confident ball. I think we can line up man against a lot of teams and they're confident in themselves that they can guard this guy," linebacker T.J. Edwards said.
Dating back to last season, Wisconsin has forced 22 turnovers over its last nine games. The Badgers have scored 41 points off their eight forced turnovers this season.
Dooley said the raucous atmosphere expected in Lincoln on Saturday night will add to the challenge facing the Badgers' defense.
"We have the utmost confidence in our defense to get a three-and-out or get a turnover and get the ball back to our offense as quickly as possible," he said.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is out “for a while” because of a fractured collarbone, coach Willie Taggart said.
Taggart also said at his weekly news conference junior linebacker Kaulana Apelu is out for the season with an ankle fracture.
... Jeff George Jr. has been named the starting quarterback at Illinois. Chayce Crouch started in the Illini’s first four games.
... Florida’s coach Jim McElwain expects to be without leading receiver Tyrie Cleveland against LSU on Saturday.
McElwain said Monday Cleveland is wearing a walking boot on his right foot after badly spraining his ankle against Vanderbilt two days earlier.
Cleveland was blocking on the perimeter during a running play in the fourth quarter when a Commodores defender fell on his foot.
McElwain said Cleveland “will be out, expect him to be out anyways.”
... Tennessee offensive lineman Venzell Boulware says he’s leaving the school and will transfer.
Boulware, a sophomore from Union City, Georgia, played three games this season.