October 12, 2008

Loss at home worst since 1989

MADISON, Wis. - Sometimes, there are certain signs that indicate a football game is not going well. The home crowd booing their team after a dismal offensive performance in the first half. Check. Replacing the starting quarterback in the third quarter. Check. Watching the home crowd filter out of the stadium midway through the fourth quarter. Check. Check. Check. In the end, everything that could go wrong did in UW's 48-7 blowout loss to No. 6 Penn State.

"It was very frustrating; very disappointing to come out and have so much on the line and not be able to perform," senior captain and linebacker DeAndre Levy said following the game. "I think I kind of point this to myself, I don't feel like I contributed enough to this defense.

"I don't think we played, collectively, good enough and the score showed the final result."

But it was Wisconsin's defense that forced Penn State into a slow offensive start holding them to a slim 3-0 lead after Nittany Lions place kicker Kevin Kelly drilled a 50-yard field goal midway through the first frame. With that said, over the course of the final 40 minutes of the contest, (PSU's next score came with 10:46 left in the second quarter) UW was outscored 45-7 as they suffered their worst home loss since 1989.

Already leading 10-0 in the second quarter, PSU wide receiver Derrick Williams found an opening while returning Brad Nortman's punt, busted it toward the Badger sideline, and took it to the house for a commanding 17-0 lead.

"I only saw one replay of it and they got leverage out of our left tackle and our left wing and sealed everybody else back inside," head coach Bret Bielema said. "They started in the middle and it broke out to our left."

It seemed the Badgers had developed an offensive flow following that special teams blunder on the ensuing possession when they answered Penn State's call with a touchdown of their own.

For the first time all season Allan Evridge, who was pulled in the third quarter in favor of Dustin Sherer, used his legs to move the ball and scored on a five-yard sprint to the corner of the end zone. The score cut Penn State's lead to 10 with less than five to play in the half.

Then, UW's defense forced Penn State into a punt, but a block in the back pushed the cardinal and white inside their own 10-yard line. That was when any momentum going in favor of the Badgers was lost.

For the third straight game, Evridge was hit and fumbled the ball at a crucial moment. Of course, Penn State recovered and converted the costly turnover into a touchdown and waltzed into the halftime break with a 24-7 lead.

"Obviously when you get into the coaching profession there will be good days and bad days," Bielema said. "Today, our team did some good things at times, but overall, did not do very many positive things, especially in the first half."

In fact, as UW was running off the field for the half, the 81,524 people in attendance showered the home team with a chorus of boos. Unfortunately for Badger fans, it did not wake up their team and UW came out even more flat for the second half.

Daryll Clark, who finished the game with 244 passing yards and a touchdown, aggressively led his team on a six play, 76-yard touchdown drive to start the third quarter, pushing the dagger into the heart of a deflated Badger squad while widening his teams lead to 31-7.

"You know, I've been in some ball games where it turned around so fast, it'd make your head spin," Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said following the game. I thought when we came out in the third quarter we needed to get on the board a couple times."

From that moment on, the Badgers never got close to the end zone again, and wilted against a much better football team.

As cliché's go, the sun will still rise tomorrow, but for the UW football team, it will not provide any warmth on a terribly cold start to the Big Ten schedule and a season falling apart.

Game notes:

-[db]Kraig Urbik suffered an apparent knee injury in the second half and did not return to the game.

-After Evridge, who finished the game 2-10 for 50 yards and an interception, threw a third quarter interception, Sherer replaced him at quarterback and finished the game with 115 yards on 9-of-17 passing with an interception.

"It was fun," Sherer said in reference to seeing game action. "It's been awhile. I haven't played since 2004, so it was good. It was kind of nice to go out and move the ball a little bit. (But) I still didn't play that well."

-Chris Maragos made his first career start at the free safety position, replacing previous starter Shane Carter.

-Culmer St. Jean fourth quarter interception was the first of his career as a Badger.

-On the bright side, UW limited Penn State to 106 rushing yards, the second lowest opponent total in 2008.

-Quote of the day:

Evridge on being taken out of the game and possibly losing his starting role:

"It's obviously very frustrating to get taken out of a game. It wasn't the way I wanted to play and the run game was getting shut down because we weren't able to find the holes.

"After going down in the game, we weren't able to bounce back."

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