What a win.
The Wisconsin Badgers won their first game ever in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday afternoon -- and in grand fashion on the leg sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglianone and his 46-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game. The Badgers prevailed 23-21 at Memorial Stadium, coming home with the Freedom Trophy for the second consecutive year, and more importantly, staying in the race for the Big Ten West division race so early in the conference season.
For Gaglianone, the field goal at the end of the game was a redeeming one, as he missed the go-ahead attempt just about 90 seconds early. As the Wisconsin State Journal's Jason Galloway wrote from Saturday:
"As a kicker you only have so many chances," said Gaglianone, who also missed a 43-yard attempt on UW’s first possession. "A game-winning field goal’s as good as it gets, especially in situations like that where you get a second chance. I don’t know how much more exciting that can be."
For redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave, it was a solid comeback performance from his four turnover output in a 10-6 loss to Iowa last Saturday. He threw 50 times for 322 yards with a touchdown pass. Yes, the former walk-on only completed 24 of those throws, but he wasn't helped by at least a handful of drops by his receiving targets. Regardless, Stave made the throws to out the Badgers in position to win. From ESPN Wisconsin's Zach Heilprin:
The first UW drive started at their own 9-yard line and Stave quickly got them moving, hitting Alex Erickson for 31 yards, followed two plays later by a 16-yard completion to Rob Wheelwright. UW got conservative, running the ball three times before the field goal miss, necessitating the second 2-minute drill for Wisconsin.That one started at UW’s 30-yard line with 1:03 left and no timeouts but Stave wasn’t fazed. He hit tight end Troy Fumagalli for 7 yards, wide receiver Jazz Peavy for 12 yards and a first down. And then threaded the needle over the middle to Fumagalli for 23 yards. Two incomplete passes were followed by Gaglianone’s hit from 46 yards to win the game."The way he practices, it’s no surprise. The way he carries himself, the way he plays. I don’t think it’s any surprise," Fumagalli said of Stave leading UW down the field."Joel didn’t flinch and made it happen."
The Badgers are now 1-1 in conference play with Purdue coming up next week. Read more recaps from the other great Wisconsin Badgers insiders: