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Wisconsin Sports Briefs: Randall Cobb will return kicks in key situations…

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River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Green Bay Packers did not get much of a chance to test the changes they made in their kick return game last weekend.

So they'll try again on Sunday, and follow the same lineup for punt and kickoff returns when the Packers play the Ravens in Baltimore.

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Special teams' coach Shawn Slocum will use receiver Randall Cobb in key situations to return both punts and kickoffs. Rookie Micah Hyde will also return punts -- and Johnathan Franklin will be in the mix for the kickoffs.

Last week, the Packers only had 14 return yards in their home win over Detroit. Cobb and Hyde both had two returns for seven yards, and Franklin did not get a chance to return a kickoff.

Slocum says it's not uncommon for teams to use more than one returner. He says the Ravens have had four or five players return kickoffs.

Green Bay is tied for 17th in the NFL with average punt returns of just over seven yards. The Packers rank last in the league with kickoff returns of about 12 yards, forcing the offense to go further to make a score.

Bears win Thursday night

The Packers need to win on Sunday if they want to be within a half-game of the NFC North Division lead. The Chicago Bears took sole possession of first place at 4-2 with a 27-21 home victory over the New York Giants Thursday night, Oct 10.

Detroit can grab a share of the division lead with a win at Cleveland on Sunday. The Packers are 2-2. A loss to the Ravens in Baltimore would put them one and a half games back with nine contests left.

The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a bye week at 1-3. The Vikes host Carolina on Sunday.

The Bears ended a two-game losing streak with their victory on Thursday Night Football. Brandon Marshall caught nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns as Chicago handed the Giants their first 0-6 start since 1976.

WIAC has three nationally ranked teams

All three nationally ranked football teams in the WIAC will try to stay undefeated in their conference games this weekend.

Eighth-ranked UW-Platteville, No. 9 UW-Oshkosh, and 10th-ranked UW-Whitewater are all 1-0 in conference play and 4-0 overall.

Platteville travels to River Falls Saturday. Oshkosh hosts La Crosse. Whitewater entertains UW-Stout. And Stevens Point plays at Eau Claire.

The Pointers are also 1-0 in league play.

In the Midwest Conference, St. Norbert will try to hold onto its share of first place when it hosts Cornell. The Green Knights and Lake Forest are both 4-0.

Lake Forest is at Illinois College Saturday. Beloit hosts Knox. Lawrence plays at Carroll. And Monmouth hosts Grinnell.

In the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, Concordia-Mequon is 1-0 in league play along with Concordia-Chicago and Lakeland. The Mequon team is at Maranatha Baptist of Watertown Saturday. Concordia-Chicago plays at Wisconsin Lutheran. And Lakeland is at Rockford. In the CCIW, Carthage hosts 13th-ranked Wheaton.

Wisconsin men’s hockey team opens regular season

The Wisconsin men's hockey team will open its regular season by hosting Northern Michigan Friday and Saturday nights.

The Badgers are ranked third in a pair of national polls. A Big Ten pre-season poll has Wisconsin winning the league's inaugural championship.

Coach Mike Eaves has six players who scored 21 points or more last season.

Michael Mersch leads that group. The senior forward led Wisconsin in goals with 23 a year ago. He had 36 total points.

The Badgers are an experienced group with five players having 100 or more games under their belts. Nine seniors and seven juniors make up the heart of the lineup.

Wisconsin also has two strong goaltenders -- Josh Rumpel and Landon Peterson. Eaves is starting his 12th year as the Badgers' head coach.

Women’s hockey team at Minnesota

The Wisconsin women's hockey team will try to end Minnesota's 51-game winning streak in Minneapolis Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Both teams are coming off two-game sweeps last weekend.

Wisconsin took a pair from Minnesota State in WCHA conference play, while the Gophers won two at Colgate.

The Badgers are ranked fourth by U.S. College Hockey Online. Coach Mark Johnson calls the Gopher series an early season challenge that he enjoys.

Minnesota plans to unveil its national championship banner from last season before Friday night’s contest.

Badgers goal-tender Alex Rigsby enters the weekend with a .981 save percentage from last week. The senior saved 53 of 54 shots in the sweep of Minnesota State.

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