November 14, 2009

Badgers blitz Michigan in blowout

MADISON - Any lingering effects from last years shocking loss at Michigan are no more. Any pain suffered when losing a game Wisconsin should have won is long gone.

Behind five total touchdowns from Scott Tolzien and 151 rushing yards from John Clay, the Badgers whipped Michigan by 21 points, winning 45-24 in front of 80,540 of UW's closest friends.

"To give our fans this," UW head coach Bret Bielema said after the win. "To beat Michigan on our season finale here at Camp Randall was awesome. Hopefully everybody is able to enjoy the day as most people always do in Wisconsin."

After heading to the locker room with a slim four-point edge, Wisconsin came out in the second half and completely dominated a Wolverine team that slipped below .500 on the season after starting out 4-0.

The same Badger defense that watched freshman quarterback Tate Forcier throw for 139 yards and a touchdown in the first half, held him to only 49 yards passing in the second frame and forced an interception.

Meanwhile, the UW offense was clicking on all cylinders as sophomore wide receiver Nick Toon crushed the middle of the field for five catches, 98 yards and two touchdowns. Thus making it the second straight week that Toon led the way for the Badger receivers.

"Obviously any time you have a big game," Toon said in reference to last week's performance. "You want to follow it up and improve off that. That's what I tried to do this week and hopefully I can continue to play well."

Tolzien, after a rough first quarter, finished with four touchdown passes and one rushing score to give the Badgers a big edge that the Wolverines couldn't overcome. It seemed the Badgers were intent on exposing a weak Michigan secondary early and often throughout the game.

He did have some struggles during the game, including an interception and a fumble that Michigan recovered and took to the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown, but he buckled down in the second half and led his team to victory.

"Scotty had a big grin on his face walking off the field there," Bielema said. "To beat Michigan, that's a big deal. I think that's the second highest point total ever to beat Michigan, which is huge. We set the record last time, a couple years back, and then we just re-broke it again today."

On an emotional day where the Camp Randall revelers wished the seniors a welcome goodbye, it was the play of the underclassmen that set the tone early and often. Clay ran the ball with authority and picked up first down after first down.

Toon led all players with 98 receiving yards and Niles Brinkley reeled in an interception in the second half. Not to mention freshman Chris Borland who tied Michigan's Brandon Graham with a game-high 11 tackles.

But, still, on a day that belonged to the seniors, they certainly didn't go unnoticed.

O'Brien Schofield finished with seven tackles, Jaevery McFadden logged six and Jeff Stehle had back-to-back tackles for loss including a sack early in the contest.

Offensively, Garrett Graham scored a touchdown and Mickey Turner's blocking helped Clay reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.

"I can't say enough about the senior leadership that our guys have provided to get this team to where it is today," Bielema said. "Starting last year in January, to have a bump in the road that we did, and to have these guys respond. They've led the way the whole way. Our senior captains, our seniors, guys like McFadden, Daniel Moore, Stehle, a lot of unsung heroes out there that were just selfless and gave a lot.

"They bought into what we were saying as coaches. I know we haven't won every game this year, but we've won a fair share that I think our guys went out and earned."

With the win, the Badgers improved to 8-2 on the season and 5-2 in Big Ten play. With each win, they come that much closer to a potential January bowl game. But still, with a tilt next week in Evanston against a feisty Northwestern team, UW is remaining focused.

It's what's got them to where they are today.

"We're going to enjoy the win tonight," Schofield said. "Tomorrow, it's all focus on Northwestern. They beat Iowa and we lost to Iowa. The focus is still there. We've got to finish off this Big Ten season strong."

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