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Lucas' Last Word: Missed opportunities lead to tough loss

<b>QB Joel Stave was excellent for the Badgers before being injured in the second half, going 9-for-11 for 127 yards and a touchdown.</b>

QB Joel Stave was excellent for the Badgers before being injured in the second half, going 9-for-11 for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Oct. 27, 2012

After turning off the microphone as the analyst for the Badger Radio Network, UWBadgers.com Insider Mike Lucas offers some final thoughts on Wisconsin's 16-13 loss to Michigan State at Camp Randall Stadium.


MADISON, Wis. -- Arguably the biggest play of the first half was turned in by Michigan State offensive lineman Chris McDonald after David Gilbert sacked MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell, knocking the ball free on the first series of the game Saturday.

McDonald recovered for the Spartans on their own 19-yard line. Michigan State was forced to punt, but had the Badgers recovered and scored, who knows how that would've changed the momentum in the first half in what was billed as a low-scoring game and turned out to be that in a 16-13 overtime win for the Spartans.

Arguably the biggest play in the second half was William Gholston's sack of Joel Stave, which changed the whole personality of the Wisconsin offense and really gave momentum to the Spartans' defense. In a limited possession game, you cannot afford to squander good field position, and that was also a storyline, with or without Stave.

In the second half, Wisconsin started drives from its own 47, 42 and 40 and came away with zero points.

Mike Lucas
UWBadgers.com Insider

Conversely, Michigan State was bottled up for the most part, starting series on their own 11, 19, 12 and 15. In fact, in the second half, Michigan State did nothing with the ball -- punting four times and losing a fumble -- before the final series of regulation when they were able to drive 75 yards.

I thought one of the biggest plays on that drive was the third-and-3, where they hit Deion Sims, their tight end, on a short out. From my perspective it looked like Aaron Burbridge, the split receiver, interfered or picked Mike Taylor, the linebacker. No foul, no harm. Maybe that's the way they saw it?

But Taylor was a little late getting on Sims and that kept the drive alive. The other big play on that series was a second-and-17 that Michigan State was able to convert and enabled them to score the game-tying touchdown.

It's amazing that a defense can play so well, and yet, feel so empty at the end of a game, because of a couple of plays that Maxwell and his receivers made. But, that was the case and that's football. Michigan State has been on the short end of that a couple times this year.

A bye could not have come at a better time for this football team. Not only with the injury to Stave, but a lot of players are nicked up, and the week off will give them a chance to regroup and get ready for the final stretch of the season.

Nothing surprised me as far as how good the Michigan State defense was. The two defensive ends, Gholston and Marcus Rush, controlled tempo and controlled the game in the second half. They made it virtually impossible to do anything consistently well on offense for the Badgers. The negative yardage plays continue to haunt any team, but especially Wisconsin.

What could've been a rallying point and something we'd be talking about right now instead of the loss, was an excellent play by Taylor and Marcus Cromartie, with Taylor holding up receiver Lawrence Thomas and Cromartie knocking the ball loose for a fumble recovery.

Wisconsin then apparently scored on its "Barge" formation with James White. Unfortunately, it was erased by a penalty -- UW's first of the game. For all intents and purposes, that would've ended the game. But, the Badgers can't do anything about it now.

It was one of the few opportunities to be taken advantage of, and you were kind of waiting for someone to flinch. Michigan State flinched, but the Badgers couldn't get enough there to seal the win. As a result, it allowed the Spartans to stay alive, and they more than proved their mettle by coming back on the final series of regulation and then scoring again in overtime.

It's too bad, too, because Kyle French made a couple of clutch kicks, but it wasn't enough. You probably knew that it wasn't going to be enough in this kind of a game. Michigan State has shown its resiliency in the past, and the Badgers didn't want to put them in a position to make plays at the end.

The Spartans fought for that, and they made the one big play they needed to make in overtime.

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