Janesville49.1°

UW wants to go bowling

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Aaron Brenner
October 31, 2008
— You could have hosed down University of Wisconsin defensive end O’Brien Schofield for three hours last Saturday, told him his dog was just run over by Bucky’s pregame fire truck, whatever…

And you still couldn’t have wiped that ear-to-ear smile off his face.


“I had a lot of fun today. It was just fun to be back out there. We got back to the basics,” Schofield said Saturday, still beaming an hour after Wisconsin’s 27-17 win over Illinois.


“Football is what we love to do. That’s why we’re here. We had fun today.”


The Badgers snapped a devastating four-game losing streak. Now they’re hoping to go streaking, so they can go bowling later.


It won’t be easy for Wisconsin (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) to create a two-game winning streak this Saturday. The Badgers are headed to East Lansing, Mich., to meet suddenly talented No. 22 Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) and the top running back in the nation, Javon Ringer, with his 1,373 yards and 16 touchdowns.


The Badgers are heavy underdogs, but safety Chris Maragos believes Wisconsin can pull off the upset in the 11 a.m. game that will be televised by ESPN.


“We’re a really resilient group. The last four games (before last Saturday) haven’t really shown that when we come out flat,” Maragos said. “But I’ll tell you what. We’ve got a very, very good, talented football team. When we play our game, we’re on.”


Wisconsin will be at a great disadvantage for the rest of the year, though.


Senior tight end Travis Beckum’s UW career is over after suffering a fractured left fibula when tailback John Clay landed on Beckum finishing a run in the third quarter against Illinois.


Beckum completed his career as the third-leading Badger in career receptions (159) and receiving yards (2,149).


“I feel horrible for Travis,” UW quarterback Dustin Sherer said. “I guess there’s not much you can do about it. He’s a great weapon to throw at.


“He’s fun because you can miss by a couple feet and he’s going to make that great catch for you,” Sherer added, with a smile. “Yeah, it’s disappointing. But guys have to step up. If Travis were here, he’d say the same thing.”


In a season of challenges for this UW team, the Badgers are prepared to combat this setback by plugging in guys and doing their best to make up for the lack of Beckum’s talent and presence.


“He was one of our great playmakers. He’s always been a great weapon for this team,” right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel said. “When you lose a guy like that, everybody’s got to go pick up the slack a little bit.”


Wisconsin still has its leading receiver, tight end Garrett Graham. The Badgers also have Lance Kendricks, Beckum’s direct backup, who caught three passes for 94 yards in Wisconsin’s 51-point effort against Marshall on Sept. 6.


“Lance has kind of been playing angry,” UW coach Bret Bielema said. “I think this is a great opportunity to step up with Travis going down.”


While Big Ten championship goals have been dashed, the Badgers have made the rest of their season interesting by knocking off Illinois and putting themselves in position for a respectable bowl.


“The win definitely breathes a little bit of life into everybody,” Vanden Heuvel said. “You get back that good feeling after a game, once you remember what it is to win and you know how good that feels.”


After struggling through so many lows, an upset in East Lansing would be just the thing UW needs to keep riding that high.


“You fight a lot harder that next week to get that feeling again, because losing that many times in a row, you just get that sick feeling in your stomach,” Vanden Heuvel said. “Just to be able to wipe that away is great. We don’t want that sick feeling in our stomach anymore.”



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