Oct. 23, 2010
This week's version of Badger Bits examines Scott Tolzien from last year to this year, Wisconsin's final drive and the strong showing by Wisconsin's running game against a tough defense.
Year of growth for Tolzien evident
Entering Saturday’s contest, Scott Tolzien had thrown seven touchdowns to just three interceptions. A year ago at this time, the numbers read nine touchdowns to eight interceptions. Of the eight picks in 2009, three came in the team’s 20-10 loss to Iowa on Oct. 17.
Fast forward to Saturday’s contest and Tolzien showed the maturity needed to win in a hostile environment like Kinnick Stadium. The Rolling Meadows, Ill., native completed 20-of-26 for 205 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
As unfortunate as the interception was, it was Tolzien’s performance before and after the play that propelled the team to victory.
Prior to the interception, Tolzien was 16-of-19 with the three incompletions coming on a dropped pass, a pass thrown away and a pass tipped at the line.
Iowa scored a touchdown to lead 27-24 with 10:16 remaining in the game. On the Badgers’ ensuing play, Tolzien faked a handoff, rolled right and looked for Isaac Anderson on an out route. Unfortunately, the route was jumped by Brett
Greenwood and he intercepted the pass at the Wisconsin 26-yard line.
A strong showing from the Badger defense held the Hawkeyes to just a field goal, setting the stage for a dramatic final drive by Wisconsin.
Final drive caps comeback
Following Michael Meyer’s 40-yard field goal and a touchback on the kickoff, Wisconsin needed to go 80 yards in the final 8:35 to grab the victory. Things did not start out promising though, as the Badgers needed to go to their bag of tricks to keep the drive alive.
After picking up six yards on the first three plays of the drive, UW faced a fourth-and-four from their own 26-yard line. Brad Nortman lined up back at his usual position, but instead of booting the ball down field, he took off up the middle for a 17-yard gain to give Wisconsin new life.
"It was something we had seen on film," head coach Bret Bielema said. "Once I saw them put the punt return unit
there ... we gave them the call."
The Badgers had another tough situation on the next set of downs, facing a third-and-five at the UW 48. Tolzien hit Pedersen for 12 yards to get to the Iowa 40-yard line and keep the chains moving, but it took another key conversion four plays later to keep the drive alive.
Wisconsin faced another fourth-and-four, but sitting at the Iowa 34-yard line, another fake punt wasn’t in the cards. Instead the offense stayed on the field and Tolzien found Montee Ball open over the middle for seven yards to get down to the Iowa 27.
From there, the Badgers stuck to their ground game to finish off the drive.
John Clay took the next handoff and went up the middle for eight yards. He then followed it up with a three-yard run to give Wisconsin a first-and-10 at the Iowa 16.
Sophomore Montee Ball, subbing for James White who was injured in the first half, then rushed for eight years. The next run saw Ball get near the goal-line, but the ball popped loose. He was ruled down at the one-yard line, but the play went upstairs to be reviewed. While many in the crowd likely expected the ruling to come down regarding the fumble, head official Bill LeMonnier actually announced the Ball in fact broke the plane of the end zone to give Wisconsin the go-ahead score.
Badgers ground game comes through again
One of the storylines last week was Wisconsin’s run game against Ohio State’s fourth-ranked rush defense. The Buckeyes hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 29 games, but John Clay came through with 104 yards and the team as a whole rushed for 184 yards.
Jump ahead to Saturday and Wisconsin again faced a stout rush defense as Iowa entered the contest ranked seventh in the country against the run, yielding just 83.8 yards per game. Dating back to the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl, Iowa had gone 24 straight quarters without allowing a rushing score until Michigan ran for two last week.
Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, the Badgers crushed those rushing numbers to the tune of 142 yards and three
touchdowns on 38 carries.
Clay led the attack, rushing for 91 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Freshman back James White was injured in the second quarter and did not return, gaining just 10 yards on six carries. Luckily for UW, the three-headed monster seen early in the season was in full-force again as Montee Ball showcased his skills in a relief role.
Ball did not see the field last week in Wisconsin’s win over No. 1 Ohio State, but he was instrumental in Saturday’s win. While his numbers don’t pop out (three rushes for 18 yards and one touchdown) his runs were timely and clutch. Specifically, it was back-to-back eight-yard runs on the Badgers’ final drive that put him into the end zone and gave UW a 31-30 lead. In addition to his three runs, Ball caught a career-high five passes for 41 yards.