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Wisconsin’s connections to Friday night’s two big top-10 upsets

Catching up with some former Badgers assistants.

Washington State v California Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

A crazy Friday night in college football with two key upsets has some Wisconsin connections from a former player and assistant coach.

Syracuse defeated No. 2 Clemson 27–24 at home, overwhelming the Tigers in first downs and yards in the process. The Orange racked up 440 yards of offense (278 passing, 162 rushing) on 83 snaps compared to Clemson’s 317 on 57 plays.

Credit Dino Babers and his coaching staff for taming the Tigers. His assistants include co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sean Lewis, who played at Wisconsin from 2004-07 as a quarterback and tight end.

Lewis followed Babers to Syracuse from Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois previously, and has helped engineer some high-octane, yard-accumulating offenses in recent years. B5Q actually spoke with the former Wisconsin tight end back in September 2014 before the Badgers’ match-up with Bowling Green.

"I think when playing under coach Alvarez, he always preached toughness -- and it's a big thing that we preach throughout our program, is toughness," Lewis said.

"And we take pride in getting that play talent up, and because of that, we're able to play to our strengths and get into a position in games where teams usually aren't comfortable going with the number of plays, so it's common place for our guys and not so commonplace for our opponents most of the time."

Later on Friday night, Cal decimated No. 8 Washington State 37–3, holding the Cougars to 337 yards. Head coach Justin Wilcox is currently 4–3 in his first season in Berkeley, but his win over Mike Leach’s crew broke a three-game losing streak to start Pac-12 play.

In his only year as defensive coordinator for the Badgers, Wilcox’s unit was dominant, holding high rankings nationally in rushing defense (98.7 yards per game, good for No. 3), scoring defense (15.6 points per game, No. 4), and total defense (301.4 yards per game, No. 7). Wisconsin’s defense also ranked fourth in the nation in third-down conversions allowed (27.9 percent) and 10th in passing efficiency defense.