Three Strong Quarters Enough for UM, not OSU

Scott Tolzien, who finished the game with 223 yards on 17-of-23 passing, was inaccurate for most of the second quarter as Minnesota cut the Badgers lead to five points heading into half time.

MADISON — For three quarters, the Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) football team looked like it could hang with any team in the country en route to a 41-23 victory over Minnesota Saturday.

During the second quarter, however, Minnesota and its 1-5 record were giving the Badgers fits.

With No. 2 Ohio State on the horizon for next Saturday the three quarters of stellar football are an optimistic sign. But if the Badgers have a repeat of the second quarter against the Buckeyes, it will mark the fifth straight time head coach Bret Bielema has fallen to Ohio State.

"To beat Ohio State you have to play 60 great minutes of football," UW defensive end J.J. Watt said.

In the first quarter UW looked quite worthy of their No. 20 ranking. On their first drive of the game the Badgers marched methodically up the field over nine plays before quarterback Scott Tolzien found Abbrederis for a three-yard touchdown pass.

On the next possession, it took Wisconsin's offense 10 plays to pace 45 yards culminating in a 1-yard touchdown plunge from running back John Clay.

About at this point the Austin Peay - Minnesota comparisons started being thrown around in the press box.

Minnesota proved it shouldn't quite yet be reallocated from the Big Ten conference, putting up nine points of their own in the second quarter — it would have been ten if not for a hilarious squibbed extra point attempt — and holding the ball for 12:17 of game clock.

"Obviously we need to stop them a little bit there," Watt said. "They had the ball for a little bit, got a bit of a drive going and gained a little momentum. We came into half time, made some adjustments and obviously came out in the second half a lot better."

Both offense and defense were sloppy in the second quarter.

The defense gave up 74 rushing yards and 31 passing yards from Gopher quarterback Adam Weber in the second frame.

On offense, UW went three-and-out on their only two attempts with time left on the clock in the second quarter, with Tolzien missing open receivers on both occasions. Going away from the run a little bit, the Badger offense attempted four passes to two runs in the second period, a tad unusual after piling up 71 rush yards on 13 attempts through the first two drives.

Wisconsin ended the second quarter with just 47 total yards, 36 of which came from a penultimate heave to David Gilreath as the half was winding to a close.

"I think that is evident just from the second quarter," Moffitt responded when asked if the Badgers had yet to hit their ceiling. "I think things were a little off, a couple three-and-outs. I don't know exactly what happened, but it seems we got up 14, and then we took a little dip. In the second half I thought we responded well."

Against clearly inferior competition, the sloppiness could be attributed to the comfort of a 14-point lead.

Center Peter Konz doesn't think so.

"I never want to say we got complacent, because I can't speak for other people," Konz said. "But for us, we just needed to do what we do … it wasn't so much complacency, it is just everyone needs to do their job every play."

If the dip in performance occurs for an entire quarter against Ohio State, Wisconsin won't finish with 41 points and an 18 point margin of victory.

So what does UW need to improve upon?

"Sustaining drives, not going three-and-out which I think we did twice in the second quarter," Moffitt said. "We only had four possession in the first half, so we have to make the most of them."

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