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Ineffective Badger defense displeases Bielema

MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema wants to be clear about how he feels about the defense that gave up 564 yards against Michigan State on Saturday.

MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema wants to be clear about how he feels about the defense that gave up 564 yards against Michigan State on Saturday.

He's not frustrated, he's just displeased.

''Frustration means you're dealing with something you don't know how to handle,'' Bielema said Monday at his weekly news conference. ''I think displeasure is the word that as coaches we'd probably use. It's frustrating from the standpoint when you see someone make repeated mistakes.''

The defense gave up single plays of 53, 70 and 80 yards in the No. 5 Badgers' win over the Spartans (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten).

''For 70 plays we played good defense, but the five plays that we didn't, it's easy to see how quickly a game can change,'' Bielema said. ''There aren't many balls going over our head. That's not the issue. It's the perimeter and tackling.''

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Despite the mistakes, the Badgers held the Spartans on a fourth-and-2 play on their final drive with just over a minute to play to secure the 37-34 win.

The victory allowed Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0) to extend a nation-leading 14-game winning streak. Both of its conference wins -- against Michigan State and Iowa -- came by a field goal each.

The defense has been inconsistent, despite preseason expectations it would be the team's strength. It was among the nation's best last year, and many key starters returned.

''It's how you finish. Fortunately for us, we've been able to finish in the correct column with a win every time,'' Bielema said. ''But also our defensive players need to understand they need to increase their level of productivity as players overall for us to have success.''

The next test for Wisconsin comes against surprising Illinois (4-1, 2-0) which is coming off an upset 27-20 win over Penn State (3-2, 0-2). Despite its top 10 ranking, and Illinois' being unranked, the Badgers are early underdogs.

Bielema said he wasn't concerned with Illinois being favored. He also said he didn't think it showed a lack of respect for Wisconsin.

The Badgers will be without No. 2 running back Lance Smith, who has been barred from playing in the team's five road games this season as punishment for a July incident in which he allegedly pushed his girlfriend.

Bielema, who recently met with the Dean of Students in an attempt to get the penalty reduced, said Smith would not travel with the team.

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Given starter P.J. Hill's production, averaging 133.4 yards a game and making him sixth best in the nation, it's been hard to get playing time for any of his backups, Bielema said.

When Smith is out, Hill will be backed up by freshmen Zach Brown and Quincy Landingham, Bielema said.

Wisconsin's 14-game winning streak is the second best in team history, behind a 17-0 streak more than a century ago from 1900-1902.

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