The offenses of BYU and Wisconsin are predicated on running the ball, so linebackers for both teams should be busy Saturday when the teams meet in Madison (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). That's good news for fans that like to see big-time linebackers at work.
There will be two on view Saturday. BYU features senior Kyle Van Noy (6-foot-3, 245 pounds); Wisconsin has senior Chris Borland (5-11, 246).
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Van Noy, ranked 82nd on NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt's list of the nation's top 100 seniors, has 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, an interception, six pass breakups, 11 quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery this season. He has 55.5 tackles for loss in his career, which is eighth-most among active players.
Borland, 84th on Brandt's list, has missed all but one quarter of the past two games with an injured hamstring, but he still leads the Badgers with 57 tackles. He also has two sacks, two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. Borland also has 13 forced fumbles in his career, which is one shy of the NCAA career record held by five players (Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Southern Miss' Cordarro Law, Cincinnati's Antwan Peek, Arizona State's Terrell Suggs and USC's Kenechi Udeze).
This will be the fourth season in a row Van Noy has played against a Gary Andersen-coached team. Andersen is in his first season with the Badgers after leaving Utah State.
"The Van Noy kid is a good linebacker," Andersen said during his weekly news conference. "He's one of the top linebackers in the country. But we all know where the top linebacker in the country plays football -- that is right here in our own backyard. But he is very talented and you have to account for him every snap."
Andersen also said he thought each linebacker would try to out-do the other.
"I wouldn't be surprised if both of those kids will be a little extra motivated," he said. "I know Van Noy good enough to know that he has great respect for Chris Borland and I know Chris Borland has great respect for Van Noy.
"It's a credit to him that he came back to play his senior year at BYU," Andersen said of Van Noy. "He would have been a highly drafted kid last year."