The game plan was simple: play tough physical football, control the clock and leave the Champs Sports Bowl with a win and a 10-3 season.
That’s exactly what the Wisconsin Badgers did Tuesday night, dominating the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes 20-14 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Considering it was essentially home game for Miami, the result was especially impressive on a cold night in Orlando.
“What you have to understand a little bit with Wisconsin is we kind of take a boxer’s mentality offensively,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “Wear you out, wear you out, throw the body punches. Eventually that cumulative effect will be a ‘W,’ and that was what was able to happen.”
After just 23 seconds, however, the game appeared to be headed in a different direction.
On the game’s opening kickoff, Miami’s Graig Cooper took the ball back 84 yards to the Wisconsin 6-yard line. Following a 10-yard penalty for an illegal block in the back, Cooper took the ball outside for 16 yards and the score, putting the Hurricanes up 7-0 early.
The game’s final 59:37 was all Wisconsin, though.
Behind quarterback Scott Tolzien and running back John Clay, the Badgers did exactly what Bielema wanted them to do: they wore Miami down until they were unable to stop the UW rushing attack.
Clay, who was named the game’s MVP by the media, finished with 121 yards rushing on 22 carries and a pair of touchdowns despite missing significant portions of the second half due to injury.
Tolzien, a junior who surprised many people when he earned the starting role in fall camp, was poised and effective, passing for 260 yards while completing 19 of 26 attempts. He did have one turnover, an interception in the second quarter, but the Wisconsin defense backed him up as Miami lost 19 yards on the drive and punted after going three-and-out.
After the game, Tolzien credited his strong performance to his development throughout the 2009 season.
It was great to see the Badgers get a 10 win season, not only for the existing players but also for recruiting. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!