There is always a lot at stake when battling for the Axe, but bragging rights are even more important for Badgers that hail from the Gopher state. So sophomore Isaac Anderson, a native of Minneapolis, could not have picked a better game to be Wisconsins top receiver and put up career-high numbers.
Going into Saturdays game, Anderson had nine catches for 99 yards on the season. Against the Gophers, he recorded six receptions for 114 total yards, more than teammates David Gilreath and Nick Toon combined. The numbers Anderson put up Saturday in both receptions and yardage are career highs. The last Wisconsin wide receiver to have more than 100 yards receiving in a game was Paul Hubbard against Michigan on Nov. 10, 2007.
But it was not all smooth sailing for Anderson on Saturday, as he missed a chance for a long catch early in the second quarter that could have given the Badgers some momentum going into the half. Between playing against former teammates and having parents that are both graduates of Minnesota Andersons father was a wide receiver for the Gophers from 1983-86 the pressure was on.
That missed catch was a great route I ran, I just didnt finish the play. I relaxed on the ball instead of going out there, so I was definitely responsible for not catching it, Anderson said. Coming into halftime, I give a lot of thanks to my teammates and coaches. They said, `forget about that play, just keep your head up, and make another play when the opportunity comes.
And that is exactly what Anderson did. Quarterback Dustin Sherer connected with Anderson for some big gains in the second half that were crucial to the third and fourth-quarter touchdowns. Overall, the Badgers had 242 receiving yards on 18 completions. After having such a breakthrough career game and with the Wisconsin win, its safe to say Andersons missed second-quarter catch was forgiven.
I think I made up for that catch, Anderson laughed.
Anderson said the talk in the locker room after the first half was not a pep talk, but it was about small things like ball security. Attention to the little things, even in a game with huge expectations and excitement like Minnesota, is part of what helped Anderson earn co-offensive MVP Nov. 8 in the game against Indiana.
[Anderson] has done a good job just sticking with it and staying with it, Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema said in his post-game press conference. One of my favorite sayings is, `Its not what happens, its how you react to what happens. He had a positive reaction and made some nice plays.
The Badgers are now bowl eligible with six wins, but on the offensive side, Wisconsin will keep working going into next Saturdays 2:30 game against Cal poly. According to Anderson, the team will do what they have done since the beginning to prepare.
Same thing weve been doing all year, Anderson said. Just the little things.