Wisconsin Football: A Roller Coaster Season For The Badgers
Well, the regular season is finally over for Bret Bielema and his Wisconsin Badgers, and what an exciting roller coaster ride it was. Let's quickly look at how the Badgers got to be where they ended up being.
The ride began on a very high note.
Wisconsin won its first three games in two different Badger fashions. They easily beat Akron and Marshall at home, pounding the ball down the opposition's throat via the run. Then they hung at Fresno State to go 3-0 and started to get people talking.
There seemed to be malfunctions of some sort on the ride in the following weeks.
Wisconsin opened Big Ten play with four straight losses. The people were no longer talking, and Badger fans were drinking (just more than usual).
It began with a complete meltdown in Ann Arbor, and carried over against the Buckeyes at home. The Badgers were then handed their worst loss at home in quite awhile by Penn State. Iowa used a steady dose of Shonn Greene to beat Wisconsin in Iowa City.
0-4 in the conference and 3-4 overall now had fans wondering if a "bowl season" was even possible for these Badgers.
Wisconsin finally won its first Big Ten game against Illinois at home and the conference goose egg was no more.
The Badgers were then unable to hold off a late surge by Michigan State in East Lansing and lost 25-24 to "Sparty."
Then out of nowhere, the ride started to become exciting again, as the Badgers won their last three games.
Indiana was the unlucky victim of the Badgers' pay back from the horrible performance against MSU, as they got crushed by Bucky 55-20. Wisconsin reeled off over 600 yards of total offense on the Hoosiers.
The next week, and last conference game was huge (understatement) for Wisconsin. Not only did they retain Paul Bunyan's Axe yet again, but by using a fourth quarter comeback against the Gophers, Wisconsin became bowl eligible.
Granted, a 3-5 conference record and being 6-5 overall usually isn't something to celebrate, but after the previous 10 weeks of Badgers football, just 'going bowling' is reason to be happy.
The Badgers closed out their season with a 36-35 overtime win over Cal Poly, thanks to the Mustangs kicker missing three PAT's (including his costly error in OT).
Everybody can now catch their breaths for a moment, as the ride will not continue until December is some obscure bowl I'm sure.
Badgers' key offensive stats through 12 games this year:
Allan Evridge - 71-132 for 949 yards, 5 TD and 5 INT
Dustin Sherer - 95-175 for 1257 yards, 5 TD and 5 INT
P.J. Hill - 211 carries for 1049 yards and 13 TD; (5 yards/carry)
John Clay - 144 carries for 852 yards and 9 TD; (5.9 yards/carry)
Garrett Graham - 37 catches for 458 yards and 5 TD
David Gilreath - 30 catches for 515 yards and 3 TD; two rushing touchdowns
Wisconsin averaged 28 points per game, and usually when you can score four touchdowns a game, your record is better than 7-5. The Badgers gained over 200 yards rushing per game and allowed 133 per game.
The offense scored points on 85 percent of its red-zone appearances, with 60 percent of them going for six.
Philip Welsh was 18-for-22 on field goals and missed just one of his 35 PATs. Freshman Brad Nortman had 60 punts and only averaged around 41 yards a kick; the weakest part of Wisconsin's game, outside the defense.
Niles Brinkley led the defense with four interceptions, but that Badger "D" definitely had its share of problems throughout the entire season.
Wisconsin, with the 7-5 record, will now wait and see which bowl calls its number.
But wait, doesn't a roller coaster ride usually end with someone throwing up?
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