MADISON, Wis. (PRESS RELEASE) - For the second time in his career, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has been named a finalist for the Bear Bryant Award, given annually to the nation's top head coach, it was announced on Wednesday.
Bielema, who was also a finalist when he led the Badgers to a 12-1 record in his first season at the helm in 2006, has guided the Badgers to a share of the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl appearance for the first time since the 1999 season.
Wisconsin currently boasts the fourth-highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 43.3 points per game. In their last four contests, the Badgers have outscored their opponents 235-84. Over the course of the eight-game Big Ten season, UW averaged 45.2 points per game, the second-highest per game total in conference history.
With 64 more rushing yards from John Clay and 136 more from Montee Ball, the pair would join James White, who has already gained 1,029 yards, making Wisconsin the first team in FBS history to boast three 1,000-yard running backs in the same season.
With the bowl game still to be played, the Wisconsin offense has already broken school records for rushing touchdowns in a season (46) and points in a season (520). In addition, the team is on pace to break the mark for average yards per carry, total offense, points per game and passing completion percentage.
Bielema, also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, has had a bevy of players take home national and conference honors in 2010.
Senior offensive tackle Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy, was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a consensus All-American, while John Moffitt, Lance Kendricks, JJ Watt and John Clay have all received All-American recognition.
In addition, Watt took home the Lott IMPACT Trophy, while senior quarterback Scott Tolzien was honored with the Unitas Golden Arm Award.
In the Big Ten, 18 UW players received recognition, including five that were first-team honorees. Carimi, Kendricks, Moffitt and Watt were all consensus selections while Antonio Fenelus was a first-team selection by the media and an honorable mention choice by the coaches.
James White was honored as the conference's Freshman of the Year, the second consecutive year that a Badger won the award. With UW linebacker Chris Borland earning the award last season, Wisconsin became the first team in league history to boast consensus Big Ten Freshmen of the Year in consecutive seasons.
The winner of the Bear Bryant Award will be announced live at an awards dinner benefiting the American Heart Association on Jan. 18, 2011 at the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel and Convention Center in downtown Houston. Celebrating 25 years at this year's event, The Marathon Oil Corporation Paul "Bear" Bryant Award is the only college football coaching award voted on after all bowl games are played.
Courtesy: UW Athletics