DALLAS (FWAA) – Center Tanor Bortolini paced a Wisconsin offensive line that helped create 312 yards on the ground and two 100-yard rushers as the Badgers opened the season with a 38-17 win over Buffalo. For his play blocking for the current top two running backs in the Big Ten, Bortolini earned the Outland Trophy National Player of the Week honor for games during the extended weekend of Sept. 2, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
For the first time, the FWAA is selecting an Outland Trophy National Player of the Week as part of the NCFAA’s weekly national honors from 12 awards. The finalists for the award will be announced on Tues., Nov. 28, and the recipient of the 2023 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN on Dec. 7 or 8. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 11, 2024. Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the season, and Bortolini will now be a part of the Outland Trophy watch list going forward.
Behind Bortolini, a 6-4, 310-pound junior from Kewaunee, Wis., the Badgers’ push up front led to 312 rushing yards, Wisconsin’s highest total on the ground in 21 games since a 391-yard effort at Illinois on Oct. 9, 2021. Wisconsin running backs Chez Mellusi (157 yards) and Braelon Allen (141) became the only Power 5 teammates to both rush for 100 yards in games over the weekend and now stand 1-2 in rushing in the Big Ten after Week 1.
Mellusi broke an 89-yard TD scamper to give Wisconsin a 20-10 lead in the third quarter, marking the longest run in the FBS during Week 1 that is also tied for the fifth longest rush in Badger history. The Badgers’ allowed only one sack for minus-three yards.
This is the inaugural week of the Outland Trophy National Player of the Week. But Wisconsin is well represented in the 78-year annals of the Outland Trophy. The Badgers have two Outland Trophy winners in offensive tackles Gabe Carimi (2010) and Joe Thomas (2006). Most recently, center Tyler Biadasz was a finalist in 2019 and guard Michael Deiter was a semifinalist in 2018. Offensive tackles Chris McIntosh (1999) and Aaron Gibson (1998) are also former finalists.
Wisconsin, ranked 19th this week in both major polls, plays in prime time on Saturday traveling to Washington State for a 7:30 p.m. ET game televised on ABC.
The Outland Trophy, celebrating 78 years since its founding, is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.
The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA includes college football’s most prestigious awards and its 24 awards have honored more than 900 recipients dating back to 1935. This season, 12 NCFAA awards will honor national players of the week each Tuesday. For more information about the NCFAA and its award programs, visit the redesigned NCFAA.org or follow on X at @NCFAA.
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The Greater Omaha Sports Committee, founded in 1977, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, consisting of more than 1,300 men and women from the City of Omaha, the State of Nebraska, and others. The Committee serves to communicate, develop, initiate and promote sports activities in the Greater Omaha sports area. In addition to the Outland Trophy Award Events and Dinner, the Greater Omaha Sports Committee promotes high school, college, and professional sports in the Greater Omaha area and the Midwest. For more information contact Bob Mancuso Jr., Chairman at email@example.com or see showofficeonline.com.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team.