One of my regular features on Bucky’s 5th Quarter this year will be to provide a pregame game tracker, where I tell y’all what is going to happen, big play by big play, quarter by quarter, before the game even starts.
I start my season with the Wisconsin Badgers looking to rebound from a rough night in Pullman, facing the Sun Belt’s Georgia Southern Eagles (2-0), who are coached by former USC head honcho Clay Helton: a man who knows a thing or two about losing to Wisconsin, which is a trait that I can appreciate in an opponent.
I love to talk, but let’s get started. On Wisconsin!
PREGAME: It’s a pleasant, slightly humid 68 degrees at kickoff, or as I like to call it, that awkward time when thousands of Wisconsin students are inexplicably standing in a long, plodding, single-file line trying to get seated row by row.
The Badgers are giving almost 20 points today, and let’s face it, this will be a tricky cover.
You stayed away from that, right?
Q1 10:21: A 75-yard, 4+ minute Georgia Southern drive is capped by a 19-yard TD strike from Davis Brin to Derwin Burgess to make it 7-0 Eagles. An early sense of unease is draped over Camp Randall and it’s now almost 60% full student section like Bret Bielema at a Golden Corral buffet.
Q1 7:33: After a 37-yard Chimere Dike kick return, Wisconsin brings a nice run/pass mixture to their first drive, with Braelon Allen chugging with purpose for a hard 24 yards on the drive, which stalls at the Georgia Southern 13. Nathanial Vakos bangs a 30-yard FG through, continuing his heavy usage from last week, and the Badgers trail 7-3.
Q1 2:29: After both teams exchanged fruitless drives, Georgia Southern is back in business at the Wisconsin 22 after Jalen White got loose for a 33-yard run, with Hunter Wohler saving a TD with a jarring hit that has White laying down on his sideline wishing he’d played tennis instead.
Q1 0:45: Touchdown, Georgia Southern, on a Brin QB sneak from the four-yard line. It’s now 14-3 Eagles after the extra point. Plenty of grumbling around Camp Randall right now, with some funny guy yelling “BRING BACK CHRYST” to a combination of jeers and nervous laughter.
END OF Q1: Georgia Southern 14, Wisconsin 3.
Q2 6:44: Luke Fickell must have put together one hell of a between-quarters speech, because the Badgers just capped off their best drive of the young season with a nine-yard Tanner Mordecai strike to Bryson Green.
Wisconsin went 75 yards on 10 plays taking over 5:00 off the clock to tighten things up. Georgia Southern 14 Wisconsin 10.
Q2 4:31: Mike Tressel’s unit creates a huge play, as James Thompson, Jr. will not be denied by Pac-12 refs this time. His strip sack, recovered by Jake Chaney, puts the Badgers in business at the Eagles’ 48.
Q2 1:19: After Chez Mellusi scarred the Eagles’ defense with 4 runs for 35 yards, looking like a man possessed, Mordecai converts a 3rd and long for a pretty little TD toss to Dike for a Badger lead just before halftime. Wisconsin 17 Georgia Southern 14.
HALFTIME: Wisconsin 17, Georgia Southern 14. The beer lines would have been too long if Wisconsin sold beer at football games, so you had to settle for your Coke and Fried Cheese line being too long.
Q3 7:09: After both teams’ defenses clamped down early in the 2 nd half, including a nice, diving interception by Alexander Smith, the Badgers are driving near midfield.
A dude tried to go streaking a few minutes ago, but tripped himself up on the turf and will have some quality time in lockup to wonder where it all went wrong, especially since he can’t use it being cold out as an excuse for what people saw.
Wisconsin 17, Georgia Southern 14.
Q3 4:49: A gorgeous play action sold to perfection by Mordecai results in CJ Williams walking in with career TD #1. The extra point is good, and Wisconsin is starting to take control of the game. 24-14.
END OF Q3: Wisconsin 24, Georgia Southern 14.
Q4 9:10: A solid, but not spectacular Jump Around launched the Badgers’ next drive, which leaned heavily on Braelon Allen’s legs and a key third down reception by TE Hayden Rucci, before Allen punched it in from the 3.
It’s now Wisconsin 31, Georgia Southern 14, and a too-hefty segment of the student section starts to head out, no doubt off to the library to get a jump on their homework.
Q4 7:34: Faster than you can say, “Damn, I wanted to get reps for the 2nd team,” Brin hits Khaleb Hood for a 55-yard TD strike and the Eagles pull to within 10 at 31-21.
Q4 4:01: In the boldest statement yet that this isn’t your father’s Wisconsin offense, nursing a 10-point 4th Quarter lead, the Badgers come out with tempo, and a 22-yard dart from Mordecai to Green has Wisconsin knocking at the Georgia Southern door.
Q4 3:04: Likely breaking the Eagles’ spirit, Allen plunges in from the 5-yard line to extend the Badgers’ lead. It’s all over now but the cover as Wisconsin’s up 38-21.
Q4 1:33: Out of timeouts and luck, Georgia Southern turns it over on downs. Almost everyone in Camp Randall is happy, except the gamblers.
FINAL: We have a workmanlike 38-21 win for the Badgers, who played a solid game on both sides of the ball against a talented, upset-minded opponent.
The game ball goes to Mordecai, who passed for 288 yards and 3 TD with no turnovers, moving Wisconsin to 2-1 on the season and shutting up his message board haters who peaked playing JV football—at least for a week.
See y’all next Saturday night in West Lafayette where the Boilers will try and end an almost two-decade-long Badger win streak.