Strickland's Blocked Punt A Surprise

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ben Strickland wasn't expecting to get the second blocked punt of his career -- and Wisconsin's first ever in a bowl game -- but that's what happened against Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl on Monday.

With three minutes left in the second quarter, Strickland stormed up the middle and practically took the football off Hogs punter Jacob Skinner's foot. For good measure, Strickland fell on the ball at the Arkansas 38-yard line.

"It was designed to be blocked by someone else, but if I was free I could go for it," said Strickland, a 5-foot-9 junior defensive back. "The right guard was supposed to block me, but he didn't. I probably should have picked the ball up and run with it -- there were a lot of red (Wisconsin) shirts around me."

Keith Jackson Jr. soon answered with an interception for Arkansas, but No. 6 Wisconsin retained its 17-7 lead into halftime, en route to a 17-14 win.


Arkansas sophomore running back Felix Jones rushed 14 times for a career-high 150 yards, including the longest run from scrimmage in UA bowl history -- a 76-yarder for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.

Previously, Bruce Maxwell and Gary Anderson shared the record for longest UA run in a bowl game, with each having a 46-yarder.

Jones' run was the second longest in Capital One Bowl history. In 1976, Terry Miller of Oklahoma State had a 78-yard run against Brigham Young. OSU won that game 49-21.


Wisconsin left-footed kicker Taylor Mehlhaff accomplished quite a bit with his 52-yard field goal with the wind that gave the Badgers an early 3-0 lead.

Mehlhaff's career-long kick was a Capital One Bowl record, a Wisconsin bowl-game record and the fourth-longest in Badgers history. His previous best was a 51-yarder against Purdue this season.

Badgers coach Bret Bielema said, "Before the game, Taylor told me he was good from 60 yards. (Wisconsin punter) Ken DeBauche changed that to 55. So we felt he could kick it."

Arkansas' Jeremy Davis had earlier narrowly missed a 30-yarder into the wind wide right, after Wisconsin cornerback Jack Ikegwuono had hauled Darren McFadden down from behind to stop a 45-yard run to the Badgers 9-yard line.

"That one play by Ike may have changed the whole landscape of the game," Bielema said. "It shows the importance of every play, and we'll talk about that all spring."


Wisconsin is 10-8 in bowl games, including 2-5 against the SEC. Arkansas is 11-21-3 in bowls, 0-3 against the Big 10.

Bielema joins Larry Coker of Miami (12-0 in 2001) and Chris Peterson of Boise State as the only coaches to win 12 games in their first season. Coker coached his final game for Miami on Sunday night after he was fired as the Hurricane's coach in December.

Wisconsin's 91-yard drive in the second quarter was the longest in its bowl history.


Arkansas true freshman tight end Ben Cleveland was sidelined early by a dislocated toe and injured foot.

McFadden had to go to the dressing room to have his sprained shoulder treated during the game, and he also was hindered by a high ankle sprain and strained Achilles tendon.

Hogs left tackle Tony Ugoh suffered a stinger to his neck and shoulder, while starting guards Stephen Parker and Robert Felton were slowed by sprained knees.

Wideout Marcus Monk had a stomach bug, but still managed to extend to 36 consecutive games his streak of catching at least one pass in a game. He caught one pass for 13 yards.

Wisconsin free safety Roderick Rogers missed the second half with a knee injury.

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