UW seniors step up
Well, believe it: it was the seniors who played their hearts out and gave the University of Wisconsin a win for the ages, a 37-21 triumph over No. 12 Michigan.
With the victory—their 39th—these seniors became the winningest class in UW history.
“Everybody stepped up,” kicker Taylor Mehlhaff said. “When you know it’s your last game, you know it’s your last time out there, you want to do something special.”
Where to start? A good place is quarterback Tyler Donovan, who played an extremely gutty game. Donovan went 14-of-27 for 245 yards, ran six times for 49 yards, had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown—all while being knocked around all day by the Michigan defense.
“It’s Big Ten football, you’re going to take your hits,” Donovan said. “You just have to find a way to get up and persevere, find a way to get the job done.”
Remarkably, as much time as Donovan spent on the Camp Randall turf, he was not sacked once. Donovan was able to slip out of several tackles for a loss, either running for positive yardage or even finding a way to find receivers downfield for first downs.
“That was the name of the game today, make some plays, and keep them on their toes,” Donovan said. “There were some situations where they had some things covered up downfield, and we were able to keep the chains moving with guys making plays.”
Perhaps the only damper on Donovan’s game was the fact he couldn’t even finish it. When Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh sent Donovan to the ground in the fourth quarter, Donovan left with an injured wrist.
But Donovan, as tough as he is, said he’s convinced he’ll be good to go next week against Minnesota.
“It just got banged up,” Donovan said of his wrist, which was wrapped up in ice after the game. “I’ll be ready to go on Monday.”
Donovan couldn’t have excelled without his security blanket, tight end Travis Beckum, and fellow senior receiver Paul Hubbard. That duo had 13 of UW’s 14 receptions.
“Travis and I were in a competitive spirit,” Hubbard said. “We knew this was a big game, we needed to go out there and make things happen. That’s just something we carried through practices and into the game.”
Beckum made several acrobatic catches, finishing with six receptions and 106 yards and a score.
But catching-wise, the day belonged to Hubbard, who in his final game at the Camp set career highs with seven catches for 134 yards.
Hubbard was elated that his parents were in attendance for Senior Day, saying that haven’t made the trip from Colorado Springs for too many games.
“There’s too many (feelings) racing through my mind right now at this moment,” Hubbard said. “I just know that my family is here, and I was just happy to have a good game like this in front of them.”
Nick Hayden, the only senior defensive starter, made his presence felt too. He ended two Michigan drives on third downs, one with a sack and another with a pass knockdown.
“I was just looking to make plays all day,” Hayden said. “It was fun, playing here for my last time. I’m going to miss it.”
Mehlhaff had a nice day as well, tying a season-high with four touchbacks and connecting on all three field-goal tries, from 27, 40 and 19 yards to move into second-place on the UW all-time scoring list.
“I remember standing out there for my last kickoff, and couldn’t believe it was the last time I was going to do it (at home),” Mehlhaff said. “It was emotional, for sure.”
And punter Ken DeBauche punted seven times, four of which landed inside the 20; one of which was downed at the Michigan 2-yard-line.
“To beat Michigan, in the seniors’ last game here at Camp Randall,” DeBauche said, “that definitely puts a little cherry on top.”
WISCONSIN 37, (13) MICHIGAN 21
First downs 17 24
Rushes-yards 25-47 52-232
Yards passing 273 245
Passes 14-41-3 14-28-0
Return yards 33 9
Punts-avg. 7-37.3 7-45.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-45 7-74
Time of poss. 21:45 38:15
Michigan 0 7 0 14 — 21
Wisconsin 7 13 3 14 — 37
Wis—Beckum, 10 pass from Donovan (Mehlhaff kick), 3:49.
Wis—FG, Mehlhaff 27, 12:46.
Wis—Donovan, 2 run (Mehlhaff kick), 7:46.
Mich—Manningham, 12 pass from Mallett (Lopata kick), 4:30.
Wis—FG, Mehlhaff 40, :15.
Wis—FG, Mehlhaff 19, 4:46.
Mich—Manningham, 97 pass from Mallett (Lopata kick), 13:17.
Mich—Arrington, 26 pass from Mallett (Lopata kick), 7:31.
Wis—Brown, 6 run (Mehlhaff kick), 3:11.
Wis—Brown, 2 run (Mehlhaff kick), 2:15.
RUSHING—Michigan: C.Brown 9-38, Minor 9-26, Butler 1-16, Team 1/-1, Mallett 5/-32. Wisconsin: Brown 27-108, Smith-Williams 10-52, Donovan 6-49, Hill 5-14, Jefferson 1-10, Rentmeester 1-2, Team 1/-1, Beckum 1/-2.
PASSING—Michigan: Mallett 11-36-2-245, Henne 3-5-1-28. Wisconsin: Donovan 14-27-0-245, Evridge 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Michigan: Arrington 7-101, Manningham 3-113, Mathews 3-46, Butler 1-13. Wisconsin: Hubbard 7-134, Beckum 6-106, Graham 1-5.