The Badgers (3-0) host Michigan (2-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24., in the Big Ten opener for each team.
According to Sports Illustrated.com, Southern California, the top-ranked team in each poll, has been ranked No. 1 on the media list for a record-setting 22 weeks.
Badgers weather delay
For the second consecutive season, the Badgers' first road game of the year was delayed due to weather. Saturday night's game here was scheduled to kick off at 7:06 p.m. local time, but the threat of inclement weather from a storm cell to the east resulted in a delay. At 7:15, officials made the decision to kick off at 7:25. The threat of rain never materialized — not a drop fell on the Kenan Stadium field.
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez said the important thing was to keep the players appraised of the situation in order to maintain focus. The team stretched again about 10 minutes before the game began, having already completed its normal pregame routine.
"That's the important thing. Don't lose focus," Alvarez said. "Don't get lulled to sleep and then go out there and fall behind in a game."
Last season, the Badgers' first road game, at Arizona, was interrupted in the second quarter by an 88-minute delay due to heavy rain and lightning. UW's locker room partially flooded during that incident, and in order to speed up the contest halftime was cancelled. The Badgers won 9-7.
This time around the delay was not nearly as dramatic, but UW still came away with a win, topping the Tar Heels 14-5.
"It wasn't even raining so we were all like, ‘What the heck is going on?'" junior strong safety Joe Stellmacher said. "But I guess there were storms in the area. We were prepared for the worst. We've been through it so we weren't too concerned about it. We were ready to go."
Fourth-and-a-spot to go
On its first drive of the third quarter, Wisconsin elected to go for it on fourth down, needing less than a yard from the North Carolina 12.
On television replays Brian Calhoun appeared to pick up the first down on his inside run, but the official spot left the Badgers inches shy, and UNC took over on downs.
Said Alvarez: "I saw it on the replay, I thought it was a poor spot….
"I watched the replay board (in the stadium). I thought where the ball was was just short of the line. They spotted the ball a full yard behind the line."
Initially UW had lined up for a field goal, but when junior left tackle Joe Thomas was late to line up on the wing for the attempt, the Badgers had to call timeout. During the timeout they reversed course and elected to go for it.
"I thought it was a good gamble," Alvarez said. "We scored on fourth-and-one, the first touchdown."
Alvarez said players were asking to go for it during the timeout.
"If it's fourth-and-one you've got to have a chip on your shoulder thinking you are going to make every fourth-and-short, third-and-short," Thomas said. "It's got to be built into your make up. And it's unfortunate we didn't make it, and obviously something happened there."
The Tar Heels, who blitzed relentlessly on sure passing downs Saturday, came up with three more sacks by the time the night was over.
Last season, the Badgers only allowed four or more sacks in a game twice — the last two games of the season, against Iowa (4) and Georgia (7).
UW's defense also came up with four sacks Saturday. The Badgers have had four sacks in each of their first three games this season. Saturday, defensive tackle Nick Hayden had 1.5 sacks, end Jamal Cooper had one before injuring his knee in the second quarter, and end Matt Shaughnessy, tackle Jason Chapman and end Joe Monty each recorded half a sack.
DeBauche gives it a boot
Wisconsin faced fourth-and-22 from its three-yard line late in the third quarter, a disconcerting position for a punter. But sophomore Ken DeBauche let loose with a 54-yard punt that drove returner Brandon Tate back to the UNC 43. Tate only picked up four yards on the return.
Earlier in the third quarter, DeBauche booted a punt 53 yards that was downed at the UNC 2.
In the fourth quarter, DeBauche had a net punt of 51 yards, when Zach Hampton drilled Tate for a loss of three yards following a 48-yard punt. UNC took possession at its 10. DeBauche stuck the Tar Heels at the 10 again late in the fourth quarter, this time with a 34-yarder.
All told, DeBauche averaged 46.7 yards per seven punts, and placed four inside the 20.
"We did some good things in the kicking game," Alvarez said. "Kenny really kicked well."
Field position favorites
Wisconsin held a slight edge in field position Saturday. The Badgers average starting position was their 26, while UNC's was its 24.
The Badgers were dominant in this department in their first two games. UW's average starting field position in its season-opening 56-42 win over Bowling Green was its 43. In their 65-0 thumping of Temple, the Badgers' average starting field position was the UW 48.
The Falcons and Owls, by contrast, started their average drive at the their own 21.