Badgers Go To The Air In First Half

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wisconsin came away with a 17-14 win over Arkansas on Monday, but the Badgers hardly resembled themselves in the process.

Much like the Razorbacks, the No. 6 Badgers (12-1) entered the Capital One Bowl at Citrus Bowl stadium a team whose offensive identity was based on a run-first, pass-second philosophy.

Running back P.J. Hill led the way coming into the game with 1,533 yards and 15 touchdowns, racking up the seventh-best rushing total for a freshman in NCAA history.

In the first half on Monday, however, Wisconsin was unable to get its running attack going against an Arkansas (10-4) defense that had primed to stop the Badgers running attack.

Hill had just 10 yards on six carries, and Wisconsin totaled minus three yards rushing on 10 carries in the half.

Enter John Stocco, Wisconsin's senior quarterback who had been battling an injured shoulder in recent weeks. Stocco, who had thrown for 1,979 yards and 15 touchdowns this season against just four interceptions, filled the void left by the absence of the Badgers' rushing attack.

Stocco attempted 23 passes in the first half, near the Wisconsin average for a full game, completing 12 passes to four different receivers for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He completed just two more passes in the second half, but by then the damage had already been done.

"I didn't think they could throw and catch like that against us," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said.

Stocco did his work against Arkansas' defense by utilizing a variety of crossing and corner routes, often times scrambling to avoid a Razorbacks defense that sacked him six times.

His first touchdown pass, a 22-yard strike to Paul Hubbard, put the Badgers up 10-7 late in the first quarter.

"Coming into the game, we knew they were going to play man (coverage)," Stocco said. "That's pretty much all they do is play man coverage, and so that's what we prepared for.

"The great thing about that is it's one-on-one, and our guys got to beat their guys."

Stocco, the game's Most Valuable Player, followed that with another touchdown pass in the second quarter, a 13-yard strike to Travis Beckum, who finished with a game-high five catches for 82 yards.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said he planned to run the ball more, but that after seeing the success Arkansas was having in stopping the run, the Badgers made adjustments to take advantage of the pass.

"We've preached all along that it's not so much what happens in the course of the game as how you react to it," Bielema said. "When we weren't running the ball with much success, our coaches went into their bag of tricks and went to a couple of different options."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories