Two long-time rivals. An extremely important game for both teams. Championship aspirations. Rose Bowl dreams. A hostile environment. What a win for the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Wisconsin Badgers (7-1, 3-1) defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1) 31-30 on Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium in a game neither team deserved to lose. For the Badgers, the meaning of a “team win” has never been so true. Nick Toon was out, Lance Kendricks and James White both went down, but the Badgers still managed to score three second-half touchdowns in their come-from-behind victory.
So many players stepped up for UW, it’s hard to even give kudos to all that deserve. I’ll start with reserve tailback Montee Ball. Once a forgotten man due to the emergence of freshman James White, Ball picked up the slack in a big time way in the second half in Iowa City. His 8-yard touchdown with 1:06 remaining proved to be the difference in a game that went back and forth all game long. Ball admitted after the game to being frustrated with the running back situation but he proved to his teammates and coaches he will be there when called upon to step up and make big plays. And like a true teammate, he lauded the play of White.
How about J.J. Watt? Every game he seems to amaze me a little more than the previous week. Watt blocked an early extra point that proved costly for the Hawkeyes. Watt also came up with the defensive play of the game when he brought down Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi for a big loss with 26 seconds left to play. The Hawkeyes were still in decent shape to at least get a long field goal attempt but terrible clock management cost them in the end.
The Badger coaching staff should be applauded for how this game turned out. Bret Bielema backed up his word when he said he would have his team ready. He allowed them to celebrate for one night after knocking off the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and then it was back to the grind. Winning on the road in the Big Ten is never easy, especially at Kinnick Stadium against a ranked Hawkeyes squad. On the go-ahead scoring drive late in the fourth, the Badgers pulled off two fourth-down conversions, none bigger than the fake punt. The Badgers almost NEVER line up in the spread formation when punting or kicking a field goal. When the Hawkeyes followed, the Badgers upback was fully aware and made the call to his teammates and off went punter Brad Nortman for a game-changing first down. They repeatedly were shuffling in fresh players due to injury and exhaustion and each one of them stepped up and made plays. Kudos to Bret Bielema and his staff.
What a great time for an off week. Despite having all sorts of momentum coming off these two back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, the Badgers need to get healthy. Toon, Kendricks, White and Jordan Kohout are all nursing injuries. John Clay continues to both deliver and take a beating and he needs rest. UW CAN NOT look forward to the end of the season to the BCS picture. I know it’s cliche but they need to focus on one opponent at a time. They have some tough games left and if they look past any of them, they’re gonna get hit right in the mouth. But for now, lets celebrate these wins. Because Badger fans haven’t felt like this in a long time.
***Due to the off week, I won’t have a game preview for you this week. At some point this week I will have a recruiting update however. And you’ll notice that the wins are paying off on the recruiting trail as well.
About the Author
Written by Chad Seely
Hey sports fans! Welcome to my Wisconsin Badgers football blog. For any Badger scores, news or questions you may have, come check out this blog! For those who don't know me, I'm a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I graduated in May 2009 with a Broadcast Journalism degree and returned in Fall 2009 to get a Minor in Multimedia which I completed in May 2010. In the summer, you can catch me on AM1230 WSBB, splitting time as the play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the Daytona Cubs, the Advanced-A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.