But when WVU showed it would happily stack the box and stop the run, UW went to the air with early success. That, as they say, bred other success and the rout was on.
Of the 35 times Wisconsin quarterbacks dropped to throw, WVU registered just one sack. Worse, it got no pass rush on three of the biggest passing plays of the game as Brooks Bollinger (twice) and Jim Sorgi (once) had at least seven to eight seconds to throw.
"A lot of it was max protection," defensive end Tim Love said. "They had seven or eight guys, with the running back and tight end. We only have three guys rushing, so all three get double teamed, and there is nothing we can really do except blitz."
The answer begs the question: Is it WVU's defensive set, then, that cannot, logistically or numerically, get a pass rush without extremely talented ends?
"It's certainly something we need to work on," Love said. "But we did hold them to a goose egg in the second half."
That's also when Wisconsin called off the passing attack, the score being 34-3. Consider: UW completed 14 of 19 first half passes, for 248 yards and two of their five scores. The passing game also largely set up the run.
In the second half the Badger signalcallers went four of nine for 43 yards, a major change but still solid numbers. And UW probably could have passed for more.
It's frustrating," tackle David Upchuch said. "We have a three man front, only rushing two at times."
It's especially frustrating when the five-man secondary, a major portion of the defense, runs around burning energy for future plays and the large yardage chunks are still given up.
"It's like street football," corner Lance Frazier said. "But that is something we learn from. I feel like our guys worked as hard as they could to get to QB."
Still, Sorgi, in the fourth quarter, rolled left, right, then back left again before tucking and gaining two yards. That's unacceptable if WVU is to present any manner of a rush this year.
That's not keying on the line and saying it is entirely their fault. The secondary blew coverages, too. But something needs changed, tweaked, adjusted or overhauled to get even a semblance of a pass rush before WVU goes to Cincinnati, a team with a solid signal caller who will pick the Mountaineers apart if given time.
"We wanted to capitalize on their run," Frazier said. "We stacked in the box, and forced them to try and hit us deep, and they did. It is part of our defense. It is something we will go work on, and try to get to the quarterback more."