Sept. 10, 2011
BY KARL ANDERSON
UW Athletic Communications
MADISON, Wis. -- After going three-and-out on its first drive, Wisconsin’s offense enjoyed favorable field position to start its second possession, thanks to a punt from Oregon State that went negative-4 yards.
Starting at the OSU 14-yard line, the Badgers ran twice but ended up losing three yards. At that point in the game, UW had run five plays and gained just four yards.
Enter Jacob Pedersen.
Facing a third-and-13, Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson found an open Pedersen streaking down the middle for a 17-yard touchdown -- his second TD catch of the year. By the end of Wisconsin’s 35-0 win over the Beavers, Pedersen would set career highs in receptions with six, receiving yards with 80 and receiving touchdowns with two.
The numbers Pedersen posted on Saturday dwarfed his previous career highs of two catches (done three times), 38 receiving yards and one touchdown (also done three times). Four of Pedersen’s catches on Saturday went for either a touchdown or a first down. In addition, Pedersen now has 16 receptions for his career. Five of those have gone for scores.
Facing a second-and-7 in the second quarter, the Menominee, Mich., native hauled in an 11-yard pass to keep the chains moving. Three plays later, Nick Toon caught a touchdown to push the UW lead to 14-0.
On the Badgers’ next possession, the offense moved the ball all the way down to the Oregon State 3-yard line, but found the drive stalling on third down. Lining up on the left side of the formation, Pedersen ran a crossing route to his right and Wilson hit him for his second score of the game.
“We’re working in practice and taking a lot of reps, but with Russell just coming in here, we had to work on that chemistry and that timing,” Pedersen said of his relationship with Wilson. “It’s just a lot of work during the week and we’re running every route as many times as we can so we can make sure that we really get that down.”
In the fourth quarter, Pedersen put the finishing touches on his fine day by hauling in a career-long 34-yard reception on third-and-9. That bested his previous best of 33 yards set against Ohio State last season.
Badgers clutch early on third downs
The final box score shows that Wisconsin was 8-of-15 in converting third-down situations. While the 53-percent success rate overall may not stand out, the Badgers were 8-of-10 in the first half, including conversions on all five tries in the second quarter.
After going three-and-out on its first drive, Wisconsin converted on its next drive when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for a 17-yard score on third-and-13.
The Badgers were forced to punt on their next drive after failing to convert on third-and-9, but the team had kept the possession going with two earlier conversions, both coming on pass plays.
In the second quarter, Wilson again took to the air to hit Nick Toon for 17 yards on third-and-5. Later in the same drive, it was again third-and-5 and -- again -- Wilson found Toon. This time it went for 10 yards and a touchdown to put Wisconsin up 14-0.
To close out the half, the Badgers embarked on a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive over 5:06. On the drive, the team was faced with three third-down situations but passed the test each time.
On third-and-5 at the UW 33, Wilson ran for 14 yards but a block in the back penalty forced the Badgers into a third-and-1. Again Wisconsin met the challenge as Montee Ball gained 3 yards. Three plays later, on third-and-3, Wilson went to Toon for six yards to keep the sticks moving.
After moving the ball down to the six-yard line, UW had a third-and-3, but Wilson hit Pedersen for a 6-yard scoring strike and a 21-0 halftime lead.
The lead would be more than enough in Wisconsin’s 35-0 shutout win, but the third-down conversions were key in getting to that point.