MADISON- The Wisconsin Badgers may have not got what they wanted, but they did get what they needed- a win. Bucky made sure to take it to the edge once again at Camp Randall before ultimately pulling it out late.
Utah State’s Josh Thompson missed a 37-yard field goal wide right with seconds remaining in the game as Wisconsin escaped with a 16-14 win Saturday night.
The Aggies got the scoring started when Chuckie Keeton connected with Kerwynn Williams on a 39-yard pass to make it 7-0 in favor of the Aggies.
Though it has happened several times throughout the season, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema refused to blame linebacker Mike Taylor for the breakdown in coverage.
“You know what, he can’t cover that,” Bielema said. “I don’t have to stress that enough. If we put him in that position again, we have problems.”
Early in the second quarter, Wisconsin broke through with a 19-yard field goal from Kyle French to cut the deficit to four.
A costly fumble from Danny O’Brien deep in the Badgers’ own territory late in the first half setup a touchdown strike from Keeton to Matt Austin from 11-yards out to make it 14-3 Aggies.
Though the scoreboard didn’t reflect it, the Badgers dominated the time of possession battle by over 10 minutes in the first half and out-gained Utah State 137-129 in total offense.
Wisconsin’s performance on third down was the telling tale as the Badgers went just 1-6 in the first 30 minutes.
Redshirt freshman Joel Stave was in at quarterback for the Badgers to begin the second half, but a similar result ensued as Wisconsin went three and out.
Bielema said that the switch came due to the Badgers’ inability to take care of the football.
“Number one reason I made the transition at the quarterback was just to protect the ball,” Bielema said. “For us to win at Wisconsin, we can’t turn the ball over.”
Kenzel Doe breathed life into the Badgers with an 82-yard punt return for a score midway through the third quarter to bring Wisconsin back within four.
According to Doe, the Badgers weren’t looking for the big play, in fact, they were in a “safe” punt return formation.
Doe saw an opening and took it.
“Right when he kicked it, I looked to see if anybody was on the sideline, and I said, ok, there isn’t anybody on the side, so I’m just going to catch it and take off,” Doe said. “The defense just turned around and started blocking for me.”
Montee Ball punched it in from 17-yards out to give Wisconsin the lead with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The extra point was blocked, so the score remained 16-14 in favor of the Badgers.
Ball had all six carries on the scoring drive. He finished the game with 139 yards rushing on 37 carries with a touchdown.
The Aggies had one last shot with 1:38 and the ball on their own 32 and no time outs remaining.
Keeton connected with Cameron Webb on 3rd and 10 on a 36 yard pass down to the Wisconsin 15. An offensive pass interference penalty moved Utah State back to its 30.
A 10-yard rush from Keeton coupled by a 1-yard run from Williams set up the 37-yard kick with six seconds remaining in the contest.
But, Thompson pushed the kick right, setting off a celebration both on the sidelines and in the stands.
“I think that’s a very good football team that obviously beat and has hung tight with all these other people, all the things we kept hearing about,” Bielema said. “So we were able to get a win. I think it should feel good.”
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