The Badgers closed nonconference play with another unexpected test, scoring two touchdowns in the final four minutes to hang on for a 37-26 victory over UTEP at Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin (3-1) scored 21 of its points in the second quarter from three different sources, and got the biggest boost from junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. After a 60-yard completion set up Wisconsin's second touchdown, Abbrederis hauled in a 47-yard score that put the Badgers up 23-6. Abbrederis finished with six catches for 147 yards and one score.
The offense stalled after that, allowing UTEP (1-3)to slowly creep back into the game by cutting the lead to seven with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. The victory wasn't assured until junior James White scored his second touchdown of the game with 3:20 remaining and Melvin Gordon scored seven seconds later following a Miners' turnover.
Senior Montee Ball scored his 64th career touchdown, but lost the first fumble of his career – a span of 711 touches – and was knocked out of the game in the second half with a concussion. In his absence, White finished with 15 yards on 64 carries and two scores while Gordon registered his first career 100-yard game (112 yards on eight carries and a touchdown).
Wisconsin begins conference play next week with a primetime game at Nebraska.
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1 play, 54 yards, :16 TOP, 2:15 left
Michael Edwards 39-yard pass from Nick Lamaison (Steven Valadez kick blocked, returned by Devin Smith for two-point conversion)
Key Play:With Devin Smith in one-on-one coverage, Edwards put a double move on an inside slant, getting separation from the senior cornerback to make the catch and reach the ball over the goal line for the opening score. Smith did make up for it, picking up Konrad Zagzenski's blocked extra point for the conversion.
7 plays, 67 yards, 2:56 TOP, 14:13 left.
Montee Ball 1-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play:With UTEP ranking 106th in the country against the run, it seemed like only a matter of time before UW's running game started moving. Melvin Gordon's 20-yard carry got the Badgers in to UTEP territory, Montee Ball's 22-yard carry got UW to the 25 and Joel Stave 16-yard scramble got the Badgers to the two-yard line.
4 plays, 86 yards, 1:51 TOP, 10:42 left, James White 3-yard run (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play:With Ball ruled out of the game with a head injury, the passing attack needs to fly. Stave took that burden on his shoulders, completing a 60-yard pass to Jared Abbrederis that got UW down to the 8-yard line.
1 play, 47 yards, :08 TOP, 4:23 left, Jared Abbrederis 47-yard pass from Stave (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play:Abbrederis was matched up in one-on-one coverage and when the cornerback fell on the turf in coverage, the junior simply had to wait for Stave's pass to land his arms.
8 plays, 27 yards, 2:03 TOP, 0:00 left, FG Steven Valadez 47
Key Play:One would think the Badgers know how running into the punter can change the outcome of a game. Forcing UTEP to punt, Michael Caputo was flagged 15 yards for roughing the kicker. Instead of UW getting the ball back, UTEP drove 21 more yards to tack on three points.
13 plays, 75 yards, 5:20 TOP, 4:57 left
Xay Williams 8-yard run (Valadez kick)
Key Play:UTEP QB Nick Lamaison has been under pressure all game, but finally got the needed protection on fourth-and-3 from UW's 31. With his offensive line picking up the blitz, Lamaison completed a seven-yard pass to Jordan Leslie, who caught the pass in the space vacated by the linebacker.
16 plays, 54 yards, 6:57 TOP, 7:59 left
FG Steven Valadez 43
Key Play:Missed tackles killed Wisconsin on a Wisconsin-like 16-play drive, but Dezmen Southward's pass breakup on third-and-18 allowed the Badgers to hold on to the lead for the time being.
9 plays, 75 yards, 4:39 TOP, 3:20 left
James White 2-yard run (Russell kick)
Key Play:After hardly being on the field for the second half, Wisconsin's offense looked well rested, especially the running attack and Melvin Gordon. Gordon broke a handoff outside the tackle, taking the ball 20 yards down to the UTEP 13 to set up the score.
1 play, 26 yards, :07 TOP, 3:13 left
Melvin Gordon 26-yard run (Russell kick)
Key Play:Wisconsin picked a great time to get its first turnover of the season, as Derek Watt forced fumble on Michael Edwards on the ensuing kickoff to give the Badgers great field position.
7 plays, 76 yards, 2:04 TOP, :50 left
Michael Edwards 38-yard pass from Nick Lamaison (Valadez kick)
Key Play:Michael Trotter tried to make a great pass breakup along the sideline, but Lamaison made a perfect throw, hitting Edwards in stride for the score.
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