Wisconsin didn't quite live up to its 38-point spread in its matchup against San Jose State. The Badgers' day consisted of sloppy play, turnovers, and wide receiver David Gilreath being taken off the field in an ambulance.
Luckily for the Badgers, a win's a win.
With the way Wisconsin began the game, you wouldn't have even known a sloppy game was coming. The Badgers drove down the field on a 10-play, 77-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by running back John Clay. Clay finished the day with 23 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Wisconsin carried over its groove from the first drive as the defense forced San Jose State's offense to a quick three-and-out. The Badgers regained possession and began driving down the field on offense once again. Unfortunately, one quick mistake would turn the Badgers' momentum in an opposite direction.
Freshman running back James White was in prime position to record his first touchdown as a Badger, but as he extended the ball to score, he fumbled the ball on the goal line and watched it roll out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback.
"James White wants that touchdown as bad as anybody, but here at Wisconsin we run the ball in the end zone, we don't reach it in," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "It's something that he'll take forward and I know be good, hopefully, in the future."
James White wasn't the only one struggling to hang on to the football.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien fumbled the ball three times and threw one interception. Tolzien would recover all three of his fumbles, but one of them proved costly as it came on a 4th-and-goal which then led to a turnover on downs for Wisconsin.
After coming off a sloppy performance in the season opener against UNLV, Tolzien expressed his disappointment with Wisconsin posting another sloppy performance, saying: "It's getting to the point where it's, we can't keep talking about it, we got to do it, myself included."
Two series after the White fumble, Badgers linebacker Blake Sorenson intercepted a Matt Faulkner pass and returned the ball 16 yards to the San Jose State 38-yard line. A few plays later, Scott Tolzien would find a wide open Lance Kendricks who then walked in for the score. With the score, Kendricks earned the honors of recording Wisconsin's first touchdown catch of the season.
In the closing minutes of the first half, San Jose State appeared determined and on its way to points as the Spartans marched 70 yards on seven plays. Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt would have none of that idea, as Watt did a great job of elevating and blocking the Spartans' 43-yard field goal attempt.
J.J. Watt made sure his cardinal n' white No. 99 was known in all aspects of the game, making big plays on defense, blocking the field goal and even going back to his Central Michigan days, playing tight end on a John Clay goal line touchdown.
"Now [Watt] thinks he's a specialist cause he gets to come in," Bielema said of J.J.'s universal contributions. "What he brings to the table, [Watt] inspires other guys to play harder."
The game would come to a halt in the third quarter on a scary punt return by Wisconsin wide receiver David Gilreath. Gilreath fielded the punt around the Badgers 25-yard line, but didn't anticipate the hit coming as he forewent his opportunity to fair-catch the punt and was instantly hit by SJSU's Peyton Thompson.
The worst of the collision came as he was falling back and Dominique Hunsucker came from his left, ramming Gilreath with a helmet-to-helmet blow. Gilreath was down for about 13 minutes, and was eventually loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher.
Bielema addressed Gilreath's injury after the game, saying he was concussed, but actually began talking and trying to get up after about a minute and a half. To remain cautious, trainers kept Gilreath down and brought him in for testing at a nearby hospital. All tests came back negative and Gilreath was released from the hospital late Saturday afternoon.
A 37-yard field goal from Phillip Welch would boost the Badgers lead to 20 with 8:11 left in the third quarter. Wisconsin lead 20-0.
San Jose State would finally get itself on the board on a 37-yard touchdown as Spartans' quarterback Jordan La Secla connected with receiver Chandler Jones. The play showcased a sequence of awful tackling from the Badgers' secondary as Jones broke four tackles from Culmer St. Jean, Aaron Henry, Niles Brinkley, and Devin Smith. The play cut the Badgers lead to 20-7.
The fourth quarter became about padding stats, as Clay came in to record his second touchdown of the game which would put UW up 27-7. La Secla and the Spartans would answer, however, scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Noel Grigsby which brought the Spartans back within 14.
Wisconsin would let it go no further as the Badgers ran out the remaining minutes of the game.
- Wisconsin would end the game recording 403 yards of total offense to San Jose State's 307. Two hundred twelve of the Badgers total yards came through the running game.
- Time of possession for the game was just about even as San Jose State controlled 28:06 of the clock while Wisconsin chewed up 31:54.
- Three of Wisconsin's four fumbles came in the redzone.