Badgers record first win in Ann Arbor in 16 years, take big step towards BCS
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - As the maize-and-blue-clad fans streamed towards the exits of the largest stadium in America, the smiles on the faces of the thousands wearing red said it all.
Relief permeated the Badger fan base after seventh-ranked Wisconsin's 48-28 win over Michigan Saturday in front of 112,276 at Michigan Stadium.
Relief from a 16-year drought at the Big House and relief that the Wolverines' periodic comeback attempts fell short. Relief that the Badgers exceeded expectations yet again and relief from a history that hadn't seen Wisconsin beat Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan all in one season since 1959.
The Badgers hardly seemed fazed by the crowd, which was relatively subdued most of the game. Instead, they took control early, leading 24-0 at halftime after racking up 379 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes.
For the second straight week, the team was without starting running back John Clay, but Montee Ball and James White combined for 354 yards and six touchdowns. The offensive line had its way with the Big Ten's worst defense.
Mike Golic and other members of the national media who accused head coach Bret Bielema of running up the score against Indiana last week should be satisfied; Wisconsin attempted just one pass in the second half. Quarterback Scott Tolzien completed an astounding 14 of 15 passes, but his lone miss was intercepted by cornerback James Rogers.
Michigan closed the gap to 10 points on two occasions in the second half. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they had to kick off to the Badgers after each score and Wisconsin put together sustained, productive drives against Michigan's overmatched defense. Wolverines head coach Rich Rodriguez called for two onside kicks in the second half, which is an indication of how he felt about his defense's ability to get a stop.
Purdue didn't do Wisconsin any favors, blowing a 28-13 lead over Michigan State to allow the Spartans to keep pace atop the Big Ten.
Nonetheless, a win over Northwestern next week at Camp Randall Stadium should assure the Badgers of an appearance in a BCS bowl.