Found September 16, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
Whew. Wisconsin escaped with a 16-14 victory against Utah State at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday night. The Badgers fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to win their 17th straight home game and improve to 2-1 this season, but plenty of alarming issues emerged along the way. Handing out grades for the Badgers' third game of the season: Passing offense: D Consider this grade comparable to a student who doesn't quite fail but instead does the bare minimum to skate by. That's essentially what Wisconsin's quarterbacks did Saturday night. Danny O'Brien was so mediocre in the first half that Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema opted to bench him for redshirt freshman Joel Stave, who hadn't taken a snap in a college game. O'Brien completed 5 of 10 passes for 63 yards and no touchdowns. He had an interception nullified because of a roughing-the-passer call, and he fumbled the ball away in Utah State territory. O'Brien wasn't absolutely awful, but Bielema clearly wanted to send a message about the importance of better ball security. The play-calling was so vanilla when Stave entered the game that fans couldn't be blamed for falling asleep. Wisconsin passed six times and ran the ball 20 times with Stave under center. Stave completed 2 of 6 passes for 15 yards and no touchdowns. Stave didn't do enough to warrant a quarterback controversy, but the decision to split reps Saturday night does not demonstrate much confidence in the passing game. Rushing offense: B- The old adage goes: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Nobody can say Wisconsin didn't try running the ball on Saturday, even if it wasn't always effective. For the game, the Badgers rushed 45 times for 156 yards. That's an average of just 3.5 yards per carry. Running back Montee Ball carried 37 times for 139 yards and scored his second touchdown of the season. Without the run game, Wisconsin had no chance to win because of how ineffective the passing game was against Utah State. But there is still plenty that needs to be cleaned up. Three times in the first half, Ball was stuffed on third-and-one situations. He also failed to score on a third-and-goal from the two-yard-line. Those moments used to be automatic for Wisconsin's run game behind a powerful offensive line. Now, it's becoming more of a surprise when the Badgers convert. Passing defense: B- After letting quarterbacks from Northern Iowa and Oregon State sling the ball all over the field, Wisconsin's defense did a solid job of containing Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Still, there were significant breakdowns. Keeton completed 18 of 34 passes for 181 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also connected with running back Kerwy Williams on a wheel route for a 39-yard touchdown pass. The wheel route absolutely killed Wisconsin against UNI, when the Panthers twice scored touchdowns on the wheel route. The Badgers also surrendered a big play in the final minutes that nearly cost them the game. Keeton found receiver Cameron Webb for a 36-yard pass down to Wisconsin's 15-yard-line. Wisconsin was fortunate that Utah State's kicker ultimately missed a 37-yard field goal with six seconds remaining. Otherwise, the play would have stood out even more. Rushing defense: B Yet again, Wisconsin's run defense was a strength during a game in which the Badgers' offense struggled. Utah State ran the ball 35 times for 127 yards with no touchdowns. The Aggies averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. Those are significant achievements considering the running ability of Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Wisconsin held him in check for much of the game, only allowing him to break contain on a few occasions. Wisconsin ranks 17th in the country thus far, allowing 82.0 yards rushing per game. The Badgers are surrendering 2.89 yards per rush overall. Special teams: B Bad news first: Kicker Kyle French struggled. French missed a 36-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and had an extra point try blocked in the third quarter. The extra point miss nearly cost Wisconsin the game. On the whole, however, Wisconsin's special teams play was excellent. Punter Drew Meyer is quickly developing into one of the Badgers' most important players. He punted nine times for an average of 41.4 yards. For the season, he is averaging 41.0 yards per punt. He entered Saturday's game ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in punting average. And finally, the special teams play stands out because of the punt return from Kenzel Doe, who brought a kick back 82 yards for a touchdown. The score changed the momentum of the game and brought Wisconsin to within 14-10 in the third quarter. It was only Doe's second career punt return, and he possesses plenty of promise. Overall: B- Wisconsin obviously has several areas to correct, but at least the Badgers can attempt to make changes following a victory. The quarterback situation needs to be rectified, and Wisconsin needs to generate more holes for Ball at the line of scrimmage. But once again, the defense held strong. Wisconsin is allowing 15.0 points per game, which ranks 27th in the country. It's the only reason the Badgers don't have a losing record at this point because the Badgers are only averaging 16.3 points per game. That ranks tied for 113th out of 120 FBS programs. Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.

Wisconsin’s Doe Weaves 82 yard TD Return

Down 14-3 in the third quarter, Wisconsin’s Kenzel Doe returns a Utah State punt 82 yards for a much needed Touchdown. Wisconsin would score again in the 3rd quarter on a 17 yard Touchdown run by Montee Ball. However, the Badgers would miss the extra point leaving Wisconsin with only a two point lead. The Aggies would end the game attempting a 37 yard field goal with 11 seconds...

Ball Sees Improvement Up Front

It may not have always been evident, but Wisconsin running back Montee Ball saw a big change in the play of the offensive line under newly appointed interim coach Bart Miller. “Huge difference, I’m not saying anything against [Mike] Markuson, hopefully he finds a place for himself, but I believe there was a huge difference,” Ball said. “We weren’t expecting...

3 charged in attack on Badgers' Montee Ball

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Three University of Wisconsin students have been charged in attack on Badgers' running back Montee Ball. Wendell Venerable, Robert Wilks and Deonte Wilson appeared in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday where a judge continued their signature bonds. A criminal complaint says Ball was kicked and punched Aug. 1 as he walked in Madison. The complaint says...

Bielema remains silent on starting quarterback

MADISON, Wis. The verdict is in as to which quarterback will start Wisconsin's next football game on Saturday. Problem is, Badgers coach Bret Bielema isn't saying who will take the snaps. "They already know," Bielema said during his weekly Monday press conference. "They know what's going on. You won't talk to them, but they know." Bielema'...

Badgers fans, don't forget your heart meds

Wisconsin is making a habit this season of playing close games and creating high blood pressure for Badgers fans everywhere. None of Wisconsin's first three games have been decided by more than five points. That trend continued on Saturday, when Wisconsin escaped with a 16-14 victory against Utah State. It took a missed field goal by the Aggies with six seconds remaining for...

Wisconsin 16, Utah St. 14

Utah State's Josh Thompson missed a 37-yard field goal with seconds remaining, allowing Wisconsin to hold on for a 16-14 victory Saturday night. Thompson missed the kick wide right, preserving a win for the Badgers (2-1). Trailing 14-3 at halftime, the Badgers got an 82-yard punt return from Kenzel Doe to begin their comeback. Montee Ball shook off a rough night to score the...

Don’t panic yet, the Wisconsin Badgers hold off Utah State

It took a surprising punt return, switch at quarterback and a wide-right missed field goal for the Wisconsin Badgers to hold off the Utah State Aggies by the score of 16-14. Punt returner Kenzel Doe was the hero of the night as his 82-yard punt return for a touchdown changed the momentum and ultimately led to the Badgers (2-1) victory over the Aggies (2-1) in front of 79,332 people...

Three charged in attack on Montee Ball

Three University of Wisconsin students have been charged in attack on Badgers' running back Montee Ball.

Doe Sparks Comeback in 16-14 Win over Utah State

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...

College Fantasy Football: What We Learned, Week 3

So, how did your weekend go?  If you were relying on John White or Charles Sims to help you pull out a big fantasy win, chances are you're about as disgruntled as an Arkansas Razorbacks fan right about now.It was a typical Saturday of college fantasy football ups and downs.  Here's a quick look at 22 things we learned:1.  It's safe to say that the Arkansas football...

List of likely BCS busters dwindles

The list of candidates just keeps getting smaller in the race to crash college football's Bowl Championship Series party, and after a Week 3 that served as something of a reality check for many teams that thought they had a chance, the field of viable candidates hoping to become the next Boise State or TCU has been cut in half. There's still plenty of season left to be played...

Small Step in the Right Direction

Camp Randall Stadium was devoid of energy, especially with Wisconsin's offense again in a funk and trailing by 11 midway through the third quarter. With Kenzel Doe's 82-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Badgers found the needed spark, scoring 13 unanswered to beat Utah State, 16-14.

Back Up for Grabs?

With the offense struggling for the third straight half, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema make the change from Danny O'Brien to Joel Stave in the second half of Wisconsin's 16-14 win over Utah State. Has the quarterback competition reopened at Wisconsin?
Badgers News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.