In the victory, the Badgers sustained a comfortable lead throughout the game, in part due to a stout defensive unit that produced seven points and led a first-half shutout against Rutgers.
However, there were a few bumps along the road, including star running back Braelon Allen’s first fumble in ten games, which occurred in the redzone.
Allen, known for staunch ball security despite dealing with a heavy workload, was there for his teammate Chez Mellusi earlier in the season when his counterpart suffered the first fumble of his career in Wisconsin’s 31-22 loss against Washington State.
However, this time, the roles were flipped as Allen was the one committing the mistake in a crucial position.
What was head coach Luke Fickell’s response to the fumble? Getting Allen back in the game as soon as possible.
“Well, I was looking for him. I wanted to make sure we had him right back in there,” Fickell said after the game in reference to the fumble. “He knows we’ll ride with him. And, obviously, he’s not happy. He’s disappointed, I’m sure, he put the ball on the ground. But he’s still the guy we’re going to ride with. And I wanted to get him right back in there as fast as we possibly can. He was over getting taped. We did get him back in.”
While it’s a mistake Wisconsin cannot have, Fickell understood the situation and that these errors will occur from time to time, which is why he looked to evaluate Allen’s confidence rather than harp on the fumble.
“But, you know, those kind of things happen. Again, we’re not condoning it,” Fickell said. “We got to take care of it. But I think the confidence level that he has, he didn’t bat an eye. Kind of like what we talked about with Tanner. It’s easier to see with the quarterback because the spotlight is always on him. But I thought he bounced back really well and it did not linger one bit. Not just in the way he played, but you could tell on his face and emotions.”
Allen wasn't fazed about the fumble, instead viewing it as a challenge to make it up to his teammates.
“It’s really just about putting it behind you, focusing on what’s next,” Allen said after the game. “There’s really no excuse, just a bad play and try to respond as best I can. I told him [QB Tanner Mordecai] I was going to make it up to him.”
Was there any holding back from the running back after a crucial mistake in the redzone?
“No, not holding back at all,” Allen said. “Like I said, it’s just about happened. Whatever defense did a great job getting us the ball back, and Coach [Fickell] put me back out there with no hesitation.”
“And like I said, I told him I was going to make it up to him, so try to respond the best I could.”
Allen finished the game with 21 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, tacking on two receptions for 14 yards in his first 20+ carry game of the season.