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UW wants to avoid replay of 2008 collapse

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
November 1, 2011
— No one can blame Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema if he is experiencing some nasty flashbacks to the 2008 season.

No, the leadership and quarterback play this season aren’t issues as they were in 2008.


However, that team won its first three games then suffered a stunning loss at Michigan. That loss turned into a four-game losing streak that UW


finally broke with a 27-17 home victory over Illinois.


After that victory, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez told his successor he had earned his stripes by stopping the losing streak.


Wisconsin (6-2, 2-2) hosts Purdue (4-4, 2-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.


“When you’re winning, it is kind of easy to keep winning,” Bielema said. “But when you get a couple losses, it is difficult to right the ship.


“Obviously it is going to be on my shoulders as the head coach to give the lead for where we go from here.”


Boom goes Herron


Dan Herron’s solid play last season against Wisconsin—91 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries—was forgotten because the Badgers handed the Buckeyes a 31-18 loss.


Herron’s play Saturday night won’t soon be forgotten.


In his second game back from a six-game NCAA suspension, Herron rushed 33 times for 160 yards.


He killed UW with runs of 57 and 18 yards on the Buckeyes’ first offensive possession of the second half.


The 57-yarder came on the first play of the drive and put the ball at the UW 18. After quarterback Braxton Miller lost a yard on first down, Herron bounced a run to the outside for 18 yards to the 1.


That led to a 1-yard run by Miller and a 10-7 lead.


“We played OK,” UW linebacker Mike Taylor said. “Just two or three plays they kind of gashed us open and gave them momentum.”


The UW staff knew Herron, who rushed 23 times for 114 yards in his season debut Oct. 15 against Illinois, could pose problems.


“Herron is a good running back,” Bielema said. “You could see when he (played) against Illinois he changed the dynamic of what they could do offensively.


“He broke free on two big runs (tonight). You could see his ability to have power but also the ability to burst out of there and make big plays.”


Ground attack stymied


When the teams met last season, UW gashed Ohio State for 184 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 13 rushing first downs.


The numbers Saturday: 89 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and three rushing first downs. That marked UW’s lowest rushing total since gaining 87 yards in a 20-10 home loss to Iowa on Oct. 18, 2009.


Montee Ball had a 22-yard touchdown reception in the first half and broke free for a 40-yard run in the second half but finished with 85 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.


James White, who rushed 17 times for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Buckeyes last season, was limited to 16 yards on five carries Saturday.


“Ohio State is pretty good,” Bielema said of the defense that entered the game allowing opponents an average of 3.5 yards per carry and 116.6 yards per game. “They were defeating some blocks. It was tough to get the edge on them all day.


“We tried to get some plays going inside and outside, and they are a solid team defensively.”


Ball pushed his point total this season to 128, second in program history. The record is 144 points, set in 2005 by tailback Brian Calhoun.


Ball has 21 touchdowns (18 rushing, three receiving), which is tied with Ron Dayne for second most in program history. Calhoun set the record of 24 in 2005.


Extra points

-- UW has lost two consecutive games for the first time since 2009. UW lost at Ohio State, 31-13, on Oct. 10, and then lost at home to Iowa, 20-10, the next week.


-- Ohio State rushed 58 times for 268 yards. That is the highest rushing total UW has allowed since Cal Poly rushed for 276 yards in a 36-35 overtime loss to UW Nov. 22, 2008.


-- Taylor finished with a college-high 22 tackles, including 2½ for loss. The 22 tackles is the most by a UW player since linebacker Bob Adamov had 23 tackles in a 31-24 victory over Purdue on Oct. 10, 1998.


-- UW wide receiver Jared Abbrederis tied a college-high for receptions (six), and set college highs for receiving yards (113) and receiving touchdowns (two).


-- With Taylor (22 tackles), Chris Borland (13) and Kevin Claxton (10), UW had three players with double-figure tackles for the first time since 2006. Mark Zalewski (14), Joe Stellmacher (12) and Jonathan Casillas (12) combined for 38 tackles in a 35-14 victory over Bowling Green. The game, played in Cleveland, was the season opener and Bielema’s first game as head coach.



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