Joel Stave

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Late interception gives Wisconsin its first win over USC

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Rafael Gaglianone field goal with 2:29 remaining lifted Wisconsin to a 23-21 win over No. 25 USC in the Holiday Bowl Wednesday night in San Diego, giving the Badgers their first win over the Trojans in now seven tries. Wednesday night’s game was the pair’s first meeting since 1966.

The Badgers actually appeared to take the lead one drive earlier, as Tanner McEvoy took a direct snap and ran around the right side. Officials ruled he stepped out of bounds but replays show he did stay in bounds. What would have been a long touchdown run was taken off the board in controversial fashion.

Joel Stave‘s nose was stepped on by a cleat on the play, forcing him to give way to back-up quarterback Bart Houston, who fired two incomplete passes and led to a Badgers punt from the USC 41.

Wisconsin forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, then drove 42 yards to set Rafael Gaglianone up for a go-ahead 29-yard field goal.

Though Gaglianone knocked in the winning score, it was outside linebacker Jack Cichy that was the star of the game for the Badgers. Cichy ended the drive following the go-ahead field goal by forcing Cody Kessler into his first interception since Nov. 13 into the waiting arms of Sojourn Shelton — it was Wisconsin’s first interception by a cornerback since the 2013 season — at the USC 46 with 1:44 left to play. The Badgers managed to kill 65 of the remaining 104 seconds, leaving USC a scant 36 seconds to try a game-winning field goal. Their last-gasp drive moved 40 yards before turning the ball over on downs at midfield with three seconds left on the clock.

Prior to forcing the interception, Cichy single-handedly killed a USC possession by sacking Kessler on three consecutive plays.

The former walk-on, suspended for the first half for a targeting hit in the Badgers’ season finale against Minnesota, entered the Holiday Bowl with two sacks on the entire season.

After a scoreless first quarter, Wisconsin jumped to a 10-0 lead thanks to a 28-yard Gaglianone boot and a six-yard Corey Clement touchdown run. USC answered with a three-and-a-half minute drive that culminated in a one-yard Justin Davis plunge, but Wisconsin closed the first half with another short field goal, then opened the second half with a four-yard scoring strike from Stave to Austin Traylor, giving the Badgers a 20-7 lead at the 7:49 mark of the third quarter.

USC used another Davis run and a seven-yard toss from Kessler to Darreus Rogers to take a 21-20 lead with 10:19 left to play, but the Trojans were unable to protect the lead.

Kessler closed his college career by hitting 18-of-32 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown, an interception and, oddly, a seven-yard out on the decisive 4th-and-10 with the game in its dying moments. Ronald Jones led the Trojans’ ground efforts with eight carries for 47 yards, and JuJu Smith-Schuster caught four passes for 65 yards.

The loss dropped USC to 8-6 on the season, and pushed Clay Helton to 0-2 as the Trojans’ full-time head coach.

Stave led the Badgers by connecting on 18-of-27 throws for 217 yards with a touchdown and no picks, and Clement charged for 66 yards and one score on 19 carries. Alex Erickson grabbed a game-high five passes for 54 yards.

The win allowed Wisconsin to close the year and Paul Chryst‘s first season as the head Badger at 10-3, giving the program double-digit victories in two straight and five of the last seven seasons.

 

Badgers QB Stave clears concussion protocol

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A win against Illinois came with a price for Wisconsin this past weekend. Center Dan Voltz was lost for the season and it is unknown when wide receiver Robert Wheelwright (leg injury) will return. There is some positive injury-related news though. Starting quarterback Joel Stave has been cleared to practice with the Badgers this week and will be expected to retain the starting job. Stave was forced to leave last weekend’s game against Illinois with a concussion.

“I talked to him [Monday],” wide receiver Alex Erickson said, per a report from Journal Sentinel. “It seemed like he was doing good. Obviously he is going through the protocol and taking that step by step. So we’ll see how that progresses. But he is feeling better.”

On Tuesday during a Big Ten conference call, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst announced the latest information regarding Stave. Chryst confirmed the quarterback was allowed to practice after completing the concussion protocols. Stave is fifth in the Big Ten in passing with 1,757 passing yards, although he has thrown just eight touchdowns to five interceptions. Having Stave leading the offense at least provides some level of comfort for Chryst, but having to replace the injured Voltz at center is a concern. Voltz injured his knee in the third quarter against the Illini, which will force Wisconsin to move on with redshirt freshman Michael Deiter handling the snapping duties. Deiter has already started six games for Wisconsin, doing so at left guard and once at center, so he is not completely lacking in starting experience.

Wisconsin hosts Rutgers this Saturday. At 6-2, the Badgers are still very much in the hunt for the Big Ten West Division championship, although the Iowa Hawkeyes will have to lose twice in order for that to be a possibility. Iowa defeated Wisconsin, 10-6, back in Week 5 to claim a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Badgers.

Huskers score late touchdown to take halftime lead on Wisconsin

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The circumstances surrounding this afternoon’s clash between Wisconsin and Nebraska in Lincoln may have taken a step back from some preseason expectations, but the importance of a win today is not really all that much different. A win and Wisconsin or Nebraska will stay in a decent spot in the Big Ten West division moving forward. After one half of play, Nebraska leads Wisconsin, 14-7.

Wisconsin’s touchdown drive was made possible thanks to a fourth down conversion from the Nebraska 29-yard line. Joel Stave completed a short pass to Troy Fumagalli to keep the drive going. A big third-down pass for 16 yards on 3rd and 15 a few plays later helped set the Badgers up for a Stave-to-Fumagalli touchdown to cap the 13-play drive.

Nebraska later followed up with a nice drive of its own a few minutes before the half. Tommy Armstrong may not be having a great day throwing the football, but he was effective in leading the Huskers down the field for a score. Armstrong completed five of seven attempts on the scoring drive, then let his feet cap it off by improvising and finding enough room to sneak into the corner of the end zone after his targets through the air were shut down.

Nebraska’s defense then came up with a three-and-out to force Wisconsin to punt, and the offense went right back to work before the end of the half. Armstrong hooked up with Alonzo Moore for a 41-yard touchdown play to give Nebraska its first lead of the game with 21 seconds until halftime.

Neither team may be ranked but the two preseason favorites in the Big Ten West can still figure into the division race with a win. A loss by either would dig a big hole on a day that saw Iowa remain undefeated in the Big Ten West.

Iowa undefeated after No. 19 Wisconsin fumbles away chance to win

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For the first time in five years, Iowa (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) won a game on the road against  ranked opponent, and now the Hawkeyes are ready to make some things happen in the wide-open Big Ten West. Iowa held on for a 10-6 win against No. 19 Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) in Madison.

This one was far from pretty, especially for the Badgers. Wisconsin turned the football over four times, none more crucial than a fourth quarter fumble just yards away from a potential go-ahead touchdown. Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave lost his footing and botched a handoff to the running back as Wisconsin was on the two-yard line. Iowa recovered and used the possession to run some clock.

Iowa managed to win the game despite gaining just 221 yards of offense and giving up nearly 100 more yards on defense. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard completed just nine of his 21 pass attempts for 77 yards, but one of those passes was for a touchdown in the first half. Naturally, that touchdown was made possible in part to a late  Wisconsin turnover before halftime.

Iowa’s recipe for success thrive son the running game. Against Wisconsin, Jordan Canzeri rushed for 125 yards and an average of 4.8 yards per rushing attempt. Wisconsin’s bread and butter for years has also been the running game, but the loss of Corey Clement took a toll. Wisconsin rushed for just 86 yards on 34 rushing attempts.

Wisconsin should now drop out of the polls on Sunday, making room for an undefeated Iowa squad. It seems Kirk Ferentz puts together a solid season every few years. Could 2015 turn out to be a good season for Iowa in the Big Ten West (a division that already sees Northwestern doing some good things too)?

Badgers miscue helps put Iowa on top at halftime

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Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave was picked off by Iowa’s Desmond King in the second quarter, and the Hawkeyes cashed in. C.J. Beathard‘s short touchdown pass to George Kittle gave undefeated Iowa a 10-3 halftime lead on the No. 19 Badgers in Madison.

Wisconsin’s running game is moving forward without Corey Clement, and the struggles on the ground have been evident. Wisconsin has just 14 rushing yards on Iowa’s defense, with Dare Ogunbowale leading the way with 10 yards so far. Iowa has been much more effective on the ground with Jordan Canzeri on his way to a 100-yard afternoon.

Marshall Koehn added a field goal in the final minute of the half to extend Iowa’s lead to seven.

This is the Big Ten opener for both schools, so an early first place standing in the seemingly up-for-grabs Big ten West is on the line on this first Saturday of October.