What went through your mind on the final play?
Everything was going through my mind. I was just thinking that we needed to make a stop. I thought they were going to come at me, so I was going to try to make a big play. They threw a swing pass to my side, and Bob and me ended up making the tackle. I tried laying on him as long as I could. But they got up, ran another play, and we stopped them. So, it's all good.
It has to be the biggest win of the year.
It is one of the biggest games that we ever played and one of the biggest games that we won this year. What else could you ask for? Our defense being on the field the last couple of seconds of the game to make plays to win the game. Those are the types of games that you want to play in as a defense. You know, win with a thrill.
That's about as nerve wracking as it can get, isn't it?
Yeah. Everything was going through my head at the time. It was just crazy. The atmosphere was lovely. It was energetic. It was lovely.
How big was that interception that you had? It seemed to start you guys going.
When I made the interception and I ran it back as far as I could, the team just got into it more. We fed off of each other. When the defense makes plays, the offense steps up. When the offense steps up, the defense makes plays.
What was the plan against Evans today?
We knew that he was their main guy and they were going to try to go to him big. We just tried to stay on top of him as much as possible and limit his catches. We did a pretty good job of covering an NFL type receiver in Evans.
Can you talk about getting the win today instead of losing it there at the end?
Getting that win today really excites us for where we're going to be playing in the bowl game. It really gives us the motivation that we can play against anybody. It doesn't matter who we play against in the bowl game. We're going to come ready to play. Getting that win today really gives us momentum going into the bowl game.
Is there a lot of difficulty in watching the last 35 seconds?
It's tough. There are so many things going through your head. They got the ball with five minutes left, I think (3:38 to go in the game on Wisconsin's final drive). You're thinking, ‘Hopefully, we can stop them. But if they get a field goal, get ready for the onsides and we're going to be running the clock out.' If they get a touchdown, then we can do the two-minute drill and get a field goal. You're thinking all of those things, and the clock runs down under a minute. You start to think, ‘Hopefully, we stop them.' Our defense played great. They got all the way down, but they held down there at the goal line for us.
There was a while there Nathan where you were kind of struggling there in the game and it wasn't looking real pretty for you, but you just kept in. Describe how you work through something like that when it's looking pretty ugly?
Yeah. It's a team game. No matter what goes wrong, and today, for me, a lot of things went wrong at the beginning of the game; you know you've got teammates that are playing hard. And if you just keep playing hard, things will get turned around. We didn't put up gaudy numbers today. But our team played great. I couldn't be more proud of our defense and our special teams, especially, for just hanging in there and coming out with the victory.
Did the Big Ten road win mean a lot to you?
It was huge for us. We all have to go home for Thanksgiving right now. It's a lot better to go home with a ‘W' in your pocket. As far as the bowl is concerned, it's great momentum for us. We have a chance to have 10 wins. With this win, we have 20 wins in the last two seasons. We were 5-3 in the Big Ten. It was a great regular season for us. We're really focused on performing well in a bowl game this year.
How did Sorgi's exit change your defensive plan?
We didn't change our plan a whole lot. The things that we worked on all week just kind of came back into play. We were just ready for it because we practiced it all week. There were tendencies to their offensive, and they didn't give up the whole game.
How much of a difference does it make to this season to stop them at the end as opposed to them scoring?
If we lose that way, we're going to be heartbroken for a while. Our bowl picture is not as good as it could have been. We would have been just really down and out. It was really big for not only now, but also for in the future.
Explain the last series and what you saw?
The catch by Charles on the sideline was obviously a big play for them. It had us reeling a little bit because we thought we had the play. It was just a great catch. Then it got down to the 10 and we knew we had to hold them off. That was all there was to it. It was first and 10 on the nine and a half, and we got it accomplished.
What happened on your interception?
Basically, we just had the quarterback confused. They had a guy running right down the middle of the field, but we were in a certain coverage where I think he thought I was going to be in a different spot than what I was. He tried to force it in there. My gloves were soaking wet the whole game. I couldn't keep the water off of them. I wanted to make sure I caught that ball. I pretty much caught it with my chest because it went through my hands.
Would you talk about the defense sparking the whole team today?
That's kind of what we talked about. We put the game on the defense's shoulders in the second half. We thought the offense gave us a little momentum with Kaeding kicking the 50-yard field goal right before half. Coming out, we just wanted to make sure we came out and played the type of defense that we think we can play every game. We did a good job of creating turnovers, something that we really haven't done too much lately.
Did that pick by Jovon kind of get you guys going?
Oh yeah. Jovon is a little spark plug for a team. He's a little energetic guy. Every time he does something great like that, the rest of us feed off of it. It was definitely a big play.
Can you talk about the difference between winning and going 9-3 or losing at the end of that game?
Nine and three sounds so much better than 8-4; it's not even funny. If we would have lost today, that's 4-4 in the Big Ten. I don't think a .500 season was what this team was looking for at the beginning of the year. To come out of this game and get the "W" the way we did, it showed what type of character this team has. We had some adversity in the game, some turnovers, some things that characteristically we try not to do. We came out on top and prevailed through all of that. That's a sign of a good team.