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Top Five Performances by Russell Wilson During 2011 Season

With no football for now, let's dive into the past by looking at one of the most impressive seasons ever for a Wisconsin quarterback.

Isn't it weird to say it has been nine years since Russell Wilson suited up for Wisconsin?

In 2011, the N.C. State transfer came to Madison and scorched opposing defenses on way to Wisconsin's 11-3 record. He completed 72.8% of his passes for 3,175 yards with 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

Looking at UW's football fact book, he still holds single-season records in yards, touchdown passes, completions (225, tied with Joel Stave) and pass efficiency (191.8).

So which were his top five performances from that electrifying season? set out to try to sort through and rank them.

Looking behind the curtain, this was a hard task to break down for a number of reasons. Here's why:

  • Please see stats above
  • In 11 of 14 games, Wilson completed at least 70% of his passes. 
  • In seven contests, he connected on at least 75% of his throws.
  • The lowest single-game completion percentage that year was the October conference clash at Ohio State where he completed just -- gasp -- 62.5% of his passes (20 of 32). He still threw for three touchdowns that contest.
  • Wilson not only threw at least one touchdown pass each game, but in 12 of the 14 contests, he threw for at least two scores. In six of the 14, he recorded at least three touchdown passes.
  • Wilson scored six rushing touchdowns overall that season, and also put together a solid 10-carry, 76-yard performance against Purdue.
  • Wilson also caught three passes on the year, including a 25-yard reception for a touchdown against Indiana and a 32-yard reception against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game.
  • In regards to interceptions, Wilson did not throw one in 11 of the 14 games. His only multi-pick contest came on the road at East Lansing against Michigan State during the regular season.

Factor in the actual opponent, home or away games, and the importance of each contest, there was a lot to weigh and consider. All that being said, here is's attempt at the top five performances by Wilson during that 2011 season.

5. Oct. 29, 2011, at Ohio State: 20 of 32 for 253 yards with three touchdowns, zero interceptions

Box score here.

This eventually became a last-minute loss for Wisconsin, but Wilson nearly pulled off a comeback win in "The Horseshoe."

Down 26-14 with 4:39 remaining in the game, Wilson helped register back-to-back touchdown drives that both went four plays and at least 66 yards. The last one, a 49-yard touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis with 1:18 left in regulation, gave Wisconsin a 29-26 lead.

Overall, he hit seven different players for competitions.

4. Oct. 1, 2011, vs. Nebraska: 14 of 20 for 255 yards with two touchdowns, zero interceptions

Box score here

Welcome to the Big Ten, Huskers!

As Nebraska entered its first conference game in the new league, Wisconsin sent a rude welcome inside Camp Randall Stadium with a 48-17 win. Down by a touchdown early in the second quarter, UW went on to score 34 unanswered points until the 13:35 mark of the fourth.

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The Badgers showcased a balanced offense -- throwing for 255 while also rushing for 231 -- against Bo Pelini and the Huskers' defense.

Wilson accounted for three touchdowns on the evening. The two through the air were second-quarter passes to Jared Abbrederis and Nick Toon for 36 and 46 yards on back-to-back drives, respectively. 

Then in the third quarter after an Antonio Fenelus interception of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, Wilson capped off a seven-play, 42-yard series with a 10-yard touchdown run.

3. Dec. 3, 2011 vs. Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game: 17 of 24 for 187 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions 

Box score here

Jeff Duckworth's 36-yard, fourth-quarter catch (and Gus Johnson's subsequent call) will forever be engrained in Wisconsin football lore. From Wilson's standpoint, he completed nearly 71% of this throws on the day in another stellar outing (177.53 efficiency). He also caught a 32-yard pass from running back Montee Ball that set up UW's second touchdown of the game two plays later.

Wisconsin's offense did not explode necessarily, as it gained just 345 yards on the day, but the team pulled off a win that sent them to Pasadena. 

2. Jan. 1, 2012 vs. Oregon in Rose Bowl: 19 of 25 for 296 yards with two touchdowns, one interception

Box score here

In an offensive slugfest that totaled 1,129 yards, Wisconsin fell just short in a one-possession, 45-38 loss to Oregon.

However, Wilson aired it out for nearly 300 yards -- completing six passes of at least 23 yards or greater that included touchdown throws of 38 and 17 yards. He averaged nearly 15.6 yards per completion and 11.8 per attempt. He also ran for a 10-yard score.

Down seven on UW's own 13-yard line and 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Wilson helped drive the offense down to the Oregon 25 on two big passes to Abbrederis and Toon of 29 and 33 yards, respectively. What happens if Wilson would have gotten the spike off in time to have a second left on the clock? Who knows.

1. Nov. 12, 2011 at Minnesota: 16 of 17 for 178 yards with four touchdowns, zero interceptions

Box score here

Wilson showcased the pinnacle of efficiency against a program rival in a 42-13 win inside TCF Bank Stadium.

The signal caller had just one incompletion on the day, and that 94.1% completion percentage still ranks third all-time for a single-game mark. He tossed two touchdown passes to Toon, along with one each to Ball and tight end Jacob Pedersen. He finished the day with the second-highest passer efficiency of the season (259.72).

Honorable Mention

  • Badger debut vs. UNLV: Wilson completed 10-of-13 passes for 255 yards with two touchdowns to finish the contest with a pass efficiency of 292.46. He also added a 46-yard touchdown run in the 51-17 win.

Did miss one? Should they be arranged differently? Let us know in the comments below!