There is bad, there is worse and then there are the games that can only be called nightmares. For the Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) things went from bad to worse at rain soaked Camp Randall Saturday and in the end they suffered a horrible 23-5 defeat at the hands of UNLV (2-1).
After trading early possessions, a 37-yard punt return by Trema Kirkland gave the Rebels the ball at the Wisconsin 26. The Rebels moved the ball to the six before settling for the early 3-0 lead on a field goal by Dillon Pieffer.
Then, things really started to come apart for the Badgers. With a first and five on their own 36, junior running back Anthony Davis made a 10-yard gain and was run out of bounds. Davis came up limping and was taken to the hospital for X-rays of his ankle. The star running back never returned.
Five plays later the Badgers' Dwayne Smith appeared to have a touchdown in his sights before tripping over his own blocker (right guard Jonathan Clinkscale) and going down on the UNLV six-yard line. The best drive of the half came to an end when Smith fumbled on the UNLV five-yard line.
The Rebels went three and out and the Badgers got the ball on their own 49. Then things got really horrible for Wisconsin. With 4:26 on the first quarter clock, Rebel defensive back Jamaal Brimmer picked up another Dwayne Smith fumble and ran 55 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 first quarter lead.
In a game lacking in Wisconsin bright spots, one of the few came on the first play of the second quarter when Badger linebacker Alex Lewis got his second punt block of the season. His block put the ball through the back of the end zone for the Wisconsin safety and the first Badger points.
The ensuing free kick by the Rebels Gary Cook went out of bounds, giving the Badgers the ball at the 50. Five plays later, the Badgers Scott Campbell put up a 27-yard field goal and the nationally ranked Badgers were done scoring for the day.
Brimmer, the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year last season, picked up his second turnover of the game at the 9:09 mark of the second quarter when he intercepted a Jim Sorgi pass and returned it 36 yards to the Wisconsin 14. Three plays later, Rebel quarterback Kurt Nantkes found wide receiver Earvin Johnson in the end zone for a 16-5 lead.
Brimmer's final interception of the day came in the early going of the third quarter when he returned another Sorgi pass to the Wisconsin 24. An interference call on the Badgers put the Rebels on the eight-yard line and on second and goal Nantkes again found Earvin Johnson for his second TD pass of the day and the winning score, 23-5.
In the fourth quarter, the Badgers got a turnover of their own when Chris Catalano recovered a Dominique Dorsey fumble on the UNLV 19-yard line. The closest the Badgers could come was second-and-goal from the three. A false start penalty pushed Wisconsin back to the eight and a UNLV sack of Sorgi, one of eight on the day, gave the Badgers third and goal on the 17. A Dwayne Smith run pulled the Badgers back to the six-yard line, but with 4:18 to go in the game a pass from Sorgi intended for Darrin Charles fell incomplete, effectively ending the game.
Turnovers were the difference as the Badgers had two passes intercepted while the Rebels lost none. The Badgers fumbled four times losing three and the Rebels had two fumbles losing one.
In addition to picking up the fumble and two interceptions, Brimmer led all players with 11 tackles including two for 18 yards lost.