That will have to be the thing that carries Stave into the spring. Driven hard into the ground by Spartans defensive William Gholston, Stave suffered a broken collarbone – his third such injury of his career – and will miss the rest of the season, according to sources.
"I can't remember the exact semantics of the play he got hurt on but I know they had him covered up," said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. "He just wished he could have gotten rid of the football quicker.
"He definitely threw the ball. We've been on him to try and get rid of the football when he's feeling pressure.
With Stave sidelined until at least spring practices in March, Wisconsin will most likely turn to Danny O'Brien for his second stint as Wisconsin's starting quarterback. With O'Brien quarterbacking the team against the nation's fifth-best defense after getting only 30 percent of the repetitions during the week, the Badgers failed to get into any rhythm offensively on any of their six second-half drives.
"It was tough," O'Brien said. "That's a good defense. You've got to give some of the credit to them, but at the same time, we're a good offense. We know that we left some plays out there, be it on the line, the receiver or myself. We've just got to make some plays."
The Badgers had good starting field position in the second half but went more than 35 yards once. UW's best starting field position came in the second half when it started at the Spartans 18-yard line following a forced fumble, but two mental mistakes erased a James White touchdown run and relegated Wisconsin to a field goal.
"It's tough," O'Brien said. "I think there are two things you can do. You can point to ‘I didn't get reps all week, I didn't do this, I didn't do that.' At the same time, that's the life of a quarterback. You're a play away at all times, and today showed that. I felt like I was ready in terms of what they were doing, and we had a good gameplan. Again, we just didn't execute, and we've got to score touchdowns in the red zone instead of field goals."
With the running game struggling to get anything going it didn't help that O'Brien couldn't get into a rhythm. O'Brien went 5-11 for 44 yards in the game. But with Stave getting injured, the game plan, according to O'Brien, didn't change in the second half.
"I think as the game went on, they did pressure us more," O'Brien said. "A lot of different blitz looks with some tricky coverage's behind it. But we kind of knew that. As the game was winding down I believed they were going to blitz us more, try to get a turnover. It was kind of a field position game all day. We didn't turn it over, but at the same time we've got to make some plays."
Eventful day for Drew Meyer
The one punt Wisconsin's redshirt freshman punter will remember from Saturday will be his muffed punt in the first half that almost cost Wisconsin some critical points.
"It was a low snap but I have to grab it the next time," Meyer said. "I kind of fumbled around with it when it was on the ground. I was trying to be able to get it off. First thought was maybe have a chance to run and get the first down but there was a guy right there so I tried to cut it back and create some space to try and get it off, but they were able to block it."
Despite the block, Meyer punted seven times, averaging 41.3 yards and put six kicks into the 20-yard line, setting up Wisconsin's defense with consistently good field position.
"We've been great all season with punting and our operations in punting," Meyer said. "Our defense was phenomenal they bailed us out completely on that, they played out of their minds. They forced negative yards on that drive and they had to end up punting, they took them out of field goal range, which was great."
Barge Doesn't Move
It was evident that after Wisconsin debuted the ‘barge' formation against Minnesota that the Spartans' defense was expecting prepared to stop the unique formation. Michigan State's defense was able to load up the box and didn't allow any big plays come from White.
After the Spartans fumbled the football in their territory in the fourth quarter, the Badgers went to the barge and appeared to score a touchdown on the first play, only to have it erased due to an offensive holding on tight end Sam Arneson.
"I didn't see (the flag) until I turned around," White said. "It was just unfortunate, but we still had opportunities and we still could have put the ball in, but we didn't."
The barge also backfired at the end of the third quarter when center Travis Frederick snapped the ball over White's head, resulting in a 15-yard loss on second down.
"It certainly was my fault," said Frederick. "In practice this week, they tended to be a little low, so I was working on getting them up a little bit. Game flow, things happen, and it's certainly on me."
Extra Points: Junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis finished with four receptions for 48 yards, moving past College Football Hall of Famer Pat Richter (1960-62) for ninth on UW's all-time receiving yards list with 1,897 ... Junior tight end Jacob Pedersen caught his 13th career touchdown pass on a 31-yard reception in the second quarter. It was the longest reception of the season for Pedersen … The Badgers played in their eighth overtime game all-time, and their first since a 34-31 double-overtime win over Fresno State in 2009. UW is now 5-3 in overtime games … Mike Taylor surpassed Reggie Holt (1990-93) for 11th on the Badgers' career tackles list with 346.