Blog Entry

Wisconsin does just enough to pull out 31-30 win

Posted on: October 23, 2010 9:15 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This was more than a football game; this was a 12-round heavyweight slugfight, one befitting a spot in the Rocky series. Wisconsin won this fight, 31-30, and the one-point margin only underscores how closely matched Iowa and the Badgers were. But in the end, this was about Wisconsin going that extra inch to get its win -- and the Heartland Trophy.

Just ask J.J. Watt , the Badgers' standout DE, and defensive hero for the second straight week. In the first quarter, Watt swung the momentum of the game by blocking an Iowa extra point and keeping the game at 6-3. After 52 more points scored in the rest of the game, that one single point would prove to be the margin of victory.

"I've always told my defense that to me, the truest test of what a defense is all about is how they play PAT, because any time you're on the field and it's a PAT situation, it means that you were just scored upon, and how are you going to react?" Bret Bielema said. "The reaction was unbelievable and ends up being the difference in the game."

That blocked PAT wouldn't have been of much significance if Montee Ball hadn't stretched across the goal line by three inches with about a minute left, and Ball probably wouldn't have been able to score that touchdown without a crucial fake punt call on fourth and 4 from Wisconsin's own 26. With everyone on Iowa's punt return team playing for the return, Badgers punter Brad Nortman streaked up the middle of the field for 17 yards. Afterwards, Nortman and Bielema confirmed that it was the coaches' call to fake it from the start.

"It was all the coaches, all the coaches," Nortman said. "When I got the snap, I saw the wide-open field, a couple blockers in front of me, and I just ran. Once I got down the field, I knew it was a great call."

Watt also came through in the fourth quarter. With Iowa holding a first down near midfield with 35 seconds left, Watt finally broke through for the Badgers' first sack of the game, dropping quarterback Ricky Stanzi for a loss of 11 yards, running nine seconds off, and forcing the Hawkeyes to burn a timeout. And sure enough, Iowa's drive ended on the Badgers' 35-yard line, running out of time just outside of field-goal range because the Hawkeyes had burned their last timeout.

After the game, Watt wore his battle scars proudly, the bridge of his nose still freshly bleeding, as he reflected happily on what he considers the high point of Wisconsin's season so far.

"I really think it tops last week," Watt told reporters. "We had so many guys banged up, we're here in a tough environment against a tough team; to come here and do what we did is so unbelievable and a testament to our team."

Watt admitted that with a bye week coming up next, he's going to savor this Badger win that puts them in a dominant second-place position behind the still-unbeaten Michigan State Spartans.

"I'm going to take this one in, and I'm going to take [last week's win against] Ohio State  in, because we didn't really have much time to take Ohio State in," Watt said. "I'm going to take a day or two here, watch the game films, and just let it sink in, but then after that we're going to come right back and start focusing on the last four games of the season."

Of course, with such a close final margin, the losing team usually has plenty to rue afterwards, and for the Hawkeyes, today will be no exception. Aside from the blocked extra point and fake punt given up, Iowa placeholder Ryan Donahue  fumbled the snap on a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, costing his team a shot at three points.

Further, and perhaps worse, the Iowa endgame clock management will be under close scrutiny from fans and coaches alike. With the Hawkeyes facing a fourth and 1 at Wisconsin's 42-yard line, Stanzi ran a keeper for the first down, then let three seconds run off the clock while signaling a spike before calling Iowa's last timeout with 13 seconds remaining -- a call that, minus the few wasted seconds, Ferentz later said was their plan all along. Alas, the next play was a pass to tailback Adam Robinson in the flat, and when Robinson was tackled inbounds without Iowa being able to stop the clock, well, that was that.

Perhaps it would have been preferable for Iowa and its fans if the Hawkeyes had lost by 10, and if they'd never been so close to attempting a game-winning field goal. But such is the emotional cruelty of college football. If it's any consolation to the Hawkeyes -- and probably scant, at that -- it's that Iowa isn't the first team to lose by the skin of its teeth to the Badgers. Recall that back in September, Wisconsin dispatched Arizona State 20-19 by blocking a tying PAT, and also stopped a potential kick return for a touchdown at the Wisconsin 1-yard line to end the first half in that game.

Again, yes, it's scant consolation for Iowa, but anything would be after such a devastating loss -- one where the Hawkeyes seemed just inches away from victory.


Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 12:29 pm

Wisconsin does just enough to pull out 31-30 win

Its not inconceivable that Wisconsin loses one more game and the Hawks can still win the conference if and only if they run the table and Wisconsin loses.  For Wisconsin they don't have much of a chance to win the conference unless Michigan State loses twice which at this point I don't see happening.  I will cheer for Wisconsin in every game (if they lose) but until then Iowa fans should cheer for Purdue next weekend to win in an upset to help out our own squad.

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:00 am

Wisconsin does just enough to pull out 31-30 win

This was one of the best Iowa "loss" games I've ever seen.  It was a slugfest and both teams proved they can contend.  Almost mirror images of eachother. It's just too bad Iowa's special teams did them in again.  I knew that PAT would come back and bite them, the way the game was going. Nobody could stop eachother on offense.  And Iowa had a crucial turnover that turned only into 3 points, a 3 point FG they could of have earlier when Donahue messed up the snap.  Iowa beat themselves, and don't get me wrong.  I credit Wisconsin for playing how they did and for a marvelous game.  They deserved it.  If Iowa had won with all those mistakes, everyone would be making excuses and saying how "they got lucky," but this was more of a loss that I can take, because Iowa beat Iowa.  And all the glory goes to Watts for the PAT block, which was the difference. 

I wish the Badgers the best throughout the season, and kick butt in the bowl games.  And Iowa fans just keep your heads up high, because we've still got some more football to be played, and can still make some noise in the Big Ten.  Great game and good luck the rest of the way to both teams!

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 8:44 am

Wisconsin does just enough to pull out 31-30 win

It was a good win for the Badgers but poor clock management at the end of the game cost the Hawks,that was terrible coaching,I'm with you and hope any Big Ten tram beats a SEC team in a bowl,I'm tired of their hillbilly blow hard mouths.Good Luck to you and your Badgers.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:14 am

Wisconsin does just enough to pull out 31-30 win

I don't believe its any stretch of the imaginaton to agree that Ohio State did not play well last week and the Badgers were at home. So this weeks win, considering they had the #3 tailback playing wide receiver on some plays who ended up as their leading receiver and on the road at a place where Wiskey doesn't win very often, yeah, this was a bigger win than last week. Your leading receiver is out, you #2 tailback is out, a few others. What really makes this game special is from the coaching standpoint. BB hasn't had the strongest support from the fan base (not from Barry Alvarez) and his gut check fake punt and going for it on 4th down instead of taking the easy fg (was anything easy in this game for either team? Maybe the 4th down run WAS the safe play), BB sent a message to his team, "I'm here to win, are you?" (he didn't say that but his actions did)
The team responded and clutch play with solid coaching should dispel even the toughest critics of BB, he's the right guy for this program.
Iowa? I said it in another thread, this game is one where you wish the teams just could keep playing and playing and never mind the score. These two teams left it all out there on the field. Take the clock away and these two teams would still be playing within 3 points of each other, going back and forth, back and forth. I wish no one had to lose. What I do know? iowa could beat Ohio State, can beat Michigan State and should have a great end to their season. I sincerely hope they're playing New Years Day somewhere, and winning (go knock off some loudmouthed SEC team). It was an amazing 2 weeks for BB and the Badger program. Things are sailing smoothly along Wiskey River.

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