Both clubs wanted to prove they belong on the national stage, but only the Badgers made a point. The Badgers, who did not look good against Northern Illinois a week ago, dominated the game and head into Big-10 play next week.
"We still have a ways to go," John Mackovic commented after the game. "We were never able to mount anything offensively." Clarence Farmer was one of the few bright spots for the Wildcats. The junior runner got on track with 131 yards on 20 carries. His 70-yard run accounted for the lone touchdown for the Wildcats.
The first quarter was typical Big-10 football with each team fighting for field position. Each team was able to pick up a first down or two, but neither could put together a sustained drive.
Wisconsin, the nation's best in take aways, had the first big play of the game when they intercepted a Jason Johnson pass on third and long. The Cats appeared to be on the move when Johnson found Steve Flemming for an apparent first down inside Badger territory. The Cats were flagged for pass interference and Wisconsin had the big take away on the next play.
The home team Badgers took advantage of the pick and methodically marched down the field mixing run and pass. Brooks Bollinger, the fleet footed quarterback kept the Wildcats honest by moving around in the pocket and using the draw play to pick up key yardage. A long pass to Darrin Charles put the Badgers at the two-yard line. After a procedure penalty, Wisconsin had the ball at the seven.
On the first play of the second quarter Anthony Davis spun off a pair of Wildcat tacklers and fell into the end zone to give the Badgers an early 7-0 lead.
It didn't take long for the Badgers to get on the board again. After Wildcat receiver Andre Thurman dropped a pass that would have kept a drive alive, the Wildcats were forced to punt. The Badgers blocked the Danny Baugher kick attempt and Davis had his second touchdown of the day on the next play from scrimmage.
Wisconsin continued to roll over the Cats. Arizona picked up two first downs, but came up short on third and long and punted from midfield.
Baugher's punt put the Badgers inside their own five, but it didn't matter. The Badgers broke tackles and cruised down the field. Bollinger found Jonathan Orr in the end zone to cap a 96-yard drive that saw the Badger line dominate the Wildcats.
"They're very big," said Mackovic. "You have to beat them by moving around and being active and there were plays where it looked like we were stuck on Velcro."
Even when the Wildcats made plays on defense, bad things seemed to happen. Arizona made a great stop on third and seven, but gave up a fourth down pass that kept the Wisconsin drive alive. Later in the drive a Wildcat blitz caused Bollinger to lose his grip on the ball and the only player in the area was a Darrell Brooks. Brooks misplayed the ball and instead of grabbing the interception, the ball sailed over his head. Wisconsin connected on a 32-yard field goal on the next play and had a huge 24-0 lead.
The Cats came out in the second half and finaly got on the scoreboard. After allowing Bollinger to slip tackles and skate into Arizona territory, the defense showed up and forced a Badger punt. Arizona took over at the four and worked their way out to the 30. Then it was Farmer's turn. For the first time all season Farmer took a quick pitch, got into a team's secondary and raced 70 yards to the house.
But Arizona couldn't hold the momentum. Despite putting the Badgers into several holes, the Wildcat defensive line just couldn't withstand the push of the Badgers offensive line. The Badgers answered the Farmer touchdown with a long, grueling drive. The Wildcats helped the Badgers by committing three crucial penalties that kept the 15 play, eight and a half minute drive alive.