Nick Toon knew what he was getting into when he signed on with Wisconsin.
The senior receiver, the son of former Badgers and NFL receiver Al Toon, recognized he would play for a run-first program.
“That’s something you kind of have to have in the back of your head when you get involved with Wisconsin,” Nick Toon said.
Still, Toon caught 54 passes and scored four touchdowns as a sophomore two years ago.
Last season, a toe injury sidelined the 6-foot-3 Toon for three games, his production dropping to 36 catches and three touchdowns.
The arrival of transfer quarterback Russell Wilson helped fuel the Badgers’ passing game this season, but so did Toon’s ability to remain without injury. He has caught a team-best 55 passes, nine for touchdowns, going into Monday’s Rose Bowl against Oregon.
The Badgers still rely on the running game — running back Montee Ball rushed for 32 of his 38 touchdowns and was a Heisman finalist — and that’s fine with Toon, who caught three passes for 46 yards in last year’s Rose Bowl loss to Texas Christian.
“As a receiver I would hope that we throw the ball every down,” he said, laughing. “But that’s not a realistic request. I’m happy here and wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Ready if needed
Alejandro Maldonado’s last field-goal attempt for Oregon was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
On Nov. 19 at Autzen Stadium, the sophomore from Colton missed a 37-yard attempt on the final play, enabling USC to escape with a 38-35 victory that knocked the Ducks out of contention for a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
“I’m sure I’ll be excited for next year to play against USC,” said Maldonado, who has made six of 11 field-goal attempts. “I’ll be really hungry for that, but you’ve got to move forward.”
Maldonado said he was prepared for a 42-yard attempt against the Trojans when USC’s Matt Kalil jumped offside. The penalty moved the attempt five yards closer.
But Maldonado said his contact with the ball and his follow-through were off.
“It happens,” he said. “You have to move on.”
Now, Maldonado said, he is ready for the Rose Bowl.
“It’s a big game,” he said, “but you just have to look at it as another game.”
Oregon defensive lineman Terrell Turner, who played at Crenshaw High, is looking forward to finishing his career in front of family and friends.
“It’s like a backyard game for me,” said Turner, who has 51/2 sacks. “I’m going to try and go out and give my family and all the Oregon fans a show and convert some L.A. natives to be Ducks fans.”
No players from California are on Wisconsin’s roster.
“I know there’s a lot of really good football players out here,” Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said. “But…we’ve kind of gone with a game plan that keeps us close to the Midwest.”
Most of the Badgers roster is made up of players from Wisconsin. It also features several from Florida and a few from Texas and other states.
“If there’s a Cali kid that wants to raise his hand and say he wants to be a Badger,” Bielema said, “I’m not going to turn him down if he fits what we do.”