Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what we have, and as Wisconsin football fans, there is plenty to be thankful for this year.
The season may not have started out as well as we would have liked, but things have turned around drastically for the Badgers, and we have a number of Wisconsin football players to thank for that.
1. Braelon Allen
Where would this team be this year without Braelon Allen? Running the football has been the identity for the Wisconsin football program for as long as I’ve been alive.
That identity was alive and well all throughout the past decade with players like James White, Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, and Jonathan Taylor. Last year, the rushing attack was not up to the Wisconsin football standard.
The Badgers brought Chez Mellusi in from the transfer portal to be the starting back. He looked good early but eventually went down with a lower leg injury, sidelining him for the season. Mellusi joined Isaac Guerendo on the injury list. Plus, three other running back were either dismissed from the team or entered the transfer portal after a suspension.
Things were very thin at running back, but Paul Chryst had a secret weapon. the 17-year old true freshman busted onto the season this season and has rushed for over 100+ yards in seven straight games, including 228 in their last game against Nebraska.
Allen is a big reason the Badgers have won seven games in a row. Without Allen, this Wisconsin football team could be dead in the water.
Wisconsin football fans everywhere should be very thankful for Braelon Allen.
2. Leo Chenal
It’s always nice to have a play like Leo Chenal on the defense, a luxury even. He has been a menace this season. After missing the first two games, he’s been one of the most productive linebackers in the country. Chenal has even been named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
Finalists for Butkus Award, nation’s best linebacker
Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati
Leo Chenal, Wisconsin
Damone Clark, LSU
Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Devin Lloyd, Utah
Chad Muma, Wyoming
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 22, 2021
Even though he missed those two games, he still leads the Badgers in solo tackles (50), total tackles (92), tackles for a loss (15.5), and forced fumbles (2). He’s also second on the team in sacks (6.5), just half a sack behind Nick Herbig.
Without Chenal, I’m not sure this defense is a top two (not two) defense in the NCAA. He single-handedly thwarted Amry’s offense on multiple occasions.
We are very thankful for Leo Chenal and we should all enjoy watching him while we can because he will be suiting up on Sundays very soon.
3. Keeanu Benton
Defensive lineman Keeanu Benton doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Benton is a huge reason why the Badgers are the top defense in the country against the run. He consistently blows up offensive lines and takes double teams, allowing Chenal and Sanborn to fly in and stop the run.
Despite all he does, he is constantly overlooked. He would be eligible for the NFL Draft this year and I think should with the year he is having, but when there isn’t more hype about him in the upcoming draft is beyond me.
But one, and probably the most important person right now, who notices the work he does is defensive coordination, Jim Leonhard.
“He deserves a lot of credit for what we do.”
— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) November 8, 2021
So even though Benton doesn’t get a ton of national hype, I want Keeanu to know that Badger fans see what he is doing and we are all very appreciative and thankful for what he brings to the Wisconsin football team.
There are more than three Wisconsin football players that we are thankful for but these are the three that stand out to me right now in the middle of Axe Week. The Badgers are in a great position to win the Big Ten West, and these three are a big reason why.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Eat lots of turkey, relax, spend time with family and friends, and get ready to watch the Badgers take on Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.