Two years ago, LSU and Wisconsin met in Houston for the front end of this odd home-and-home. The Badgers built a 24-7 lead and lost 28-24. For most of the second half, it appeared history would repeat itself. The Badgers built a 13-0 lead and watched it slip away in a matter of six plays. But a late field goal and an even later interception allowed Wisconsin to secure a 16-14 upset of No. 5 LSU at Lambeau Field.
Wisconsin owned the first half, and continued that dominance into the second, forcing a three-and-out on LSU’s first possession, then stuffing the ball 58 yards in five snaps to notch the game’s first touchdown — a five-yard Corey Clement jaunt to put Wisconsin up 13-0 at the 10:47 mark of the third quarter.
The Badgers forced another punt on their next defensive possession, the fifth of the day, but Wisconsin quarterback Bart Houston (looking extreeeemly Bart Houston, with his t-shirt sleeves descending below his jersey sleeves) did the one thing he absolutely, positively could not do: a forced interception on 3rd-and-long from deep in his own territory. Tre’Davious White zigged and zagged across the field to put LSU on the board with an 18-yard pick six at the 5:28 mark of the third quarter.
LSU took advantage of the momentum on their next possession as quarterback Brandon Harris finally sprung to life, finding Leonard Fournette for a 31-yard connection and Travin Dural for a 10-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers a 14-13 lead.
The teams traded punts on their next five possessions before Wisconsin took the lead with 3:47 to go on a 47-yard Rafael Gaglianone field goal.
On the ensuing possession, LSU (0-1) moved from its 25 to the Wisconsin 35 with plenty of time for a game-winning field goal, but Harris through an interception to the chest of Wisconsin defensive back D’Cota Dixon with 57 ticks to go. The pick was a fitting end for LSU, as its offense let the defense and special teams down for the previous 59 minutes as well. For the day the Tigers mustered only 14 first downs and 257 total yards. They converted 2-of-10 third downs and snapped the ball just 50 times to Wisconsin’s 71, dooming their defense to spend 37 of the game’s 60 minutes on the field. Fournette managed 138 yards on 23 carries and three receptions for 38 yards, but failed to dominate the game the way his numbers indicated. Harris connected on 12-of-21 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and two picks.
Wisconsin (1-0), meanwhile, managed just enough offense to get out of its own way. The Badgers survived not only Houston’s pick six, but also another Houston interception near the LSU goal line and a turnover on downs at the LSU 23. For the day, Houston hit 19-of-31 passes for 205 yards, while Clement rushed 21 times for 86 yards.
LSU’s loss is a rare moment of September weakness, both for itself and the SEC. Today’s result marks LSU’s first regular season non-conference loss since dropping the 2002 opener to Virginia Tech, and just the SEC’s fourth setback in 18 opening week neutral site games. It’s also the first time an SEC team has lost to a Big Ten foe with College GameDay in town to hype the contest; the SEC was 5-0 before today.