When the new top 25 polls come out this week, don’t be surprised if the Wisconsin Badgers climb into the top ten.
The Badgers have been told all summer that the schedule they face is too difficult. The first chance to show people that they can play with the best teams in college football came on Saturday at Lambeau Field and it was Wisconsin that prevailed, 16-14 over 5th ranked LSU.
The Badgers jumped out to a 13-0 lead, despite squandering several scoring opportunities as they dominated the Tigers on both sides of the ball.
But the Tigers came charging back, taking a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Badgers had what appeared to be one final chance, although they would have plenty of time on the clock. They drove beyond mid-field but seemed to be playing for a go-ahead field goal try, instead of pushing the envelope and trying to score a touchdown.
The Badgers worked the ball on a third down run closer to the center of the field, and Rafael Gaglianone put the Badgers in front with a 47-yard field goal that split the uprights with 3:47 left to play. It was Gaglianone’s third field goal of the day (3 for 3) as he wore number 27 on his back, honoring former Nebraska punter Sam Foltz, who died in a car accident in Waukesha County in July.
Moments later, Badger linebacker Vince Biegel came charging through the middle of the line, trying to sack LSU quarterback Brandon Harris. Biegel missed, but Harris stepped up and tossed an interception to Wisconsin defensive back D’Cota Dixon to seal the win for the Badgers with :57 seconds left to play.
A personal foul on LSU lineman Josh Boutte moved the ball to the Wisconsin 47. LSU had just one timeout left and couldn’t stop the Badgers from running out the clock.
The Tigers (0-1) saw their streak of consecutive regular-season, nonconference victories end at 52. Their last non-conference loss came against Virginia Tech in the 2002 opener.
Wisconsin’s defense deserves much of the credit. They held LSU to 64 total yards in the first half and allowed the Badgers offense to overcome three turnovers and still win.
LSU coming from behind to take the lead 14-13 reminded Badger fans of the 2014 28-24 loss to the Tigers in Houston. But this time, the Badgers would settle down and make enough plays to pull out the win.
In his first start for the Badgers, quarterback Bart Houston completed 19 of 31 for 205 yards and two interceptions.
The last time Wisconsin knocked off an AP top-five team in a nonconference game was in 1974, when the Badgers upset No. 4 Nebraska, 21-20.
Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette finished with 138 yards on 23 carries, but failed to score a touchdown. The Badgers defense held Fournette to 35 yards on 11 carries in the first half.
Wisconsin tailback Corey Clement finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
The Badgers still have a very difficult schedule ahead of them, but they now have some momentum, as well as the belief that they can win a big game, away from Camp Randall Stadium.