Just ask Falcons' head coach Gregg Brandon. What did Wisconsin's running game do to Bowling Green's defense?
"Beat the living crap out of us," Brandon said. "Our worst fear was realized. Couldn't stop them."
What Bowling Green boasted in offensive production — between Heisman candidate quarterback Omar Jacobs and tailback P. J. Pope — it lacked in run defense, giving up 388 rushing yards.
In short, Bowling Green's run defense simply could not stop Calhoun. That was evident in the final score of the game: Wisconsin 56, Bowling Green 42. Five of those eight touchdowns belonged to Calhoun, who racked up 258 rushing yards and 39 receiving yards. Calhoun's speed, and the gargantuan running lanes the Badgers' offensive line opened, became an enormous problem for Bowling Green that it could not overcome.
"Coaches say you can't prepare for anything like that because we don't have a back like that," defensive tackle Mike Thaler said on Calhoun. "You try to watch them on film, see how physical they are. … You don't go to watch film without hearing ‘he's fast, he's fast.' But you don't realize it until you get into a game. Man, he was fast."
Thaler finished with three tackles, including two on Calhoun. Free safety Deaudre Perry led the team with 12 tackles, stopping Calhoun nine times.
Jacobs orchestrated two nearly flawless drives in the first quarter and put Bowling Green up 13-0 heading into the second quarter. But Calhoun put Bowling Green's defense on thin ice in the second quarter, rushing for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Wisconsin's run game dominated in the second quarter, putting up four of the team's five touchdowns that quarter and accumulating 127 ground yards.
"We just weren't playing good defense," Thaler said. "We weren't tackling. … You didn't see Bowling Green defense today."
Wisconsin's run game continued to pound Bowling Green in the second half, accounting for three touchdowns and 206 yards.
"It's a Big Ten football team," Brandon said. "They just reload. … I thought we'd hold up a little better. I didn't expect to get trucked for 400 yards."
Bowling Green's defense, which allowed 132.4 ground yards per game last year, just could not handle backs as fast as Calhoun or as powerful as backup Booker Stanley, who had 103 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
"We tackled poorly but when you've got a guy like that that can make you miss (Calhoun) and then you've got a guy like [Stanley] or whatever, that he just can run you over, it's tough," Brandon said.
The silver lining for Bowling Green is that the Falcons likely will not see another version of Wisconsin's smash mouth football the rest of the season.
"We won't see backs like that the rest of the way, probably," Brandon said. "I would not anticipate seeing an offensive line like that the rest of the way."
"They just wore us down repeatedly," Brandon said.