Notes: Again, Turnovers Make the Difference

In this year's Big Ten season, nobody ball hawked quite like No.15 Wisconsin. Adding to its conference theme, the Badgers turned four turnovers into 24 points, taking advantage of the short field and Penn State's carelessness in a 45-7 blowout.

MADISON - Whenever Wisconsin's defense can force a turnover, it usually means good things for the Badgers offense. Entering the regular season finale, Wisconsin's defense had forced 15 turnovers in Big Ten play and watched as its offense cashed 13 of those into points.

Against Penn State, it was no different for Wisconsin, turning all four of its forced turnovers into 24 points in a 45-7 whipping of the Nittany Lions Saturday.

"I think this week our defense really had a chip on its shoulder," coach Bret Bielema said. "Everybody was talking about Penn State's defense and there very good but I think our defense rises to the challenge there very well coached. They keep the ball in front of them. They try and take every play for what it is."

To start the turnover spree, safety Shelton Johnson was able to pick off Matt McGloin in the first quarter, resulting in a Montee Ball 1-yard touchdown. Conor O'Neill was able to force and recover a fumble on a kickoff, resulting in a Nick Toon 4-yard touchdown catch, and Mike Taylor recovered a fumble on a run play by Penn State, resulting in a 9-yard Ball run to make the score 35-7.

Taylor's fumble recovery occurred on Penn State's opening drive of the second half, and virtually killed any chance of a Nittany Lion comeback.

"We had a pick and a few fumble recoveries," Taylor said. "It helps the offense score and anytime you can get the ball back to the offense and they can score, it's real good."

Senior walk-on Andrew Lukasko also got in on the action by recovering a muffed catch off of a punt return, leading to a 44-yard Philip Welch field goal.

"That's the most important thing our defense did a great job today," said receiver Jared Abbrederis, who led the team in catches (7) and yards (93). "Our defense got the ball back to us and special teams had two turnovers. We were able to capitalize on all four turnovers. It just wasn't our offense it was our defense and special teams. Whenever you get a change of momentum like that it's important to take advantage of it and we did a really good job of doing that today."

Nick Toon Honors Father

Instead of wearing his usual number one jersey Nick Toon honored his father by wearing his dad's old number 87 when he at Wisconsin (1982-84). It wasn't completely Toon's idea to wear his father's college jersey number.

"A little bit of mine and a little bit of Coach Alexander and Coach Bielema thought it was a cool idea so we made it happen," Toon said.

"It shows what kind of kid he is to honor his father the way he did," Bielema added. "Is truly amazing and to go out and play as well as he did."

Not only did Toon wear his father's number, but the elder Toon was also an honorary team captain against Penn State. In a kind gesture, quarterback Russell Wilson gave up his status of team captain to allow the youngest Toon to be a captain so he could walk out with his dad before the coin toss.

"Obviously its very cool thanks to Russell," Toon said. "I don't know how many people can say they have had a similar situation. It's really cool to have my dad here as a guess captain for my last game."

"To give up his seat at the coin toss, for Nick to have an opportunity to go out there with his father locking arms, I think it was very neat thing that not a lot of stadiums get to witness something like that which we did today," Bielema added It was fitting that the first play of the game was a pass to Toon in which he caught for 14 yards. Toon ended up having five catches for 42 yards and a touchdown, tying his dad's 1984 season and Lee Evans (2001) for second place on UW's all-time single-season receiving touchdowns list.

"You know it's tough but we had a good run and we still have a couple of game here left," Toon said. "Let's see if we can go out on a positive note."

Armstrong gets injured

Redshirt sophomore Ethan Armstrong suffered a hip injury that required him to be taken off the field in an ambulance. The injury occurred on the kickoff after Montee Ball's 31st touchdown on the year in the second quarter.

"All the x-rays have been negative so far," Bielema said. "He thought the hip might of came out so they wanted to take him and get x-rays as quick as possible."

Armstrong, a walk-on from Ottawa, Ill., had had trouble with both hips and his shoulder this season and was scheduled to have surgery on all three after the season.

"He's an unbelievable example of what a kid sacrifices to play here, especially as a walk-on," Bielema said."I've got a lot of respect for Ethan and who he is."

Russo gets to play

Iraq veteran Greg Russo was able to fulfill his dream today by walking on to the playing field of Camp Randall. He made his appearance on the Badgers' final defensive series, lining up at defensive end for the Badgers.

"Russo's a guy who sacrificed a lot in his personal life to get where he wants," Bielema said. "He competes every day on the scout team out there. It's not exactly a great job to be out there it's a pretty thankless job to go against those big boys and just the perseverance he's had and a true inspiration."

Russo said he didn't wake up worried about his last chance to play in a game at Camp Randall Stadium and that his only goal this week was to prepare the offensive line for a challenge from Penn State's defensive front. Maybe that's why he talked to reporters still in his uniform after the game and joked that he would be sleeping in his jersey.

"I wasn't thinking about (playing) the whole game," said Russo. "I was just happy that we were winning and we were moving the ball. It was a culmination of years of work and a lot of coaches and players believing in me … I was so excited.

"The excitement from the game, the excitement from being on the team and winning the Leaders Division, that all kind of parlayed into one big excitement. I don't know if it actually changed when I went out on the field. I was excited the whole day."

Badger Nation Top Stories