Every Badger football fan can rattle off the heartaches the Wolverines have handed them. Hayden Epstein's game-winning field goal after a muffed punt in UM's 20-17 win in 2001. David Terrell's catch of a desperation heave in 2000 that made Michigan a 13-10 winner. And the two passes that were so very close to Badger touchdowns in 2002, when the Wolverines prevailed 21-14.
Saturday evening was Wisconsin's turn to have the plays break its way in this series.
None, of course, was more important than the Badgers' last play from scrimmage. Two straight incomplete passes gave UW third-and-goal at the Wolverine 4 with 29 seconds left to play and the Badgers trailing 20-16. With three receivers and a tight end in the formation, UW was screaming pass.
Quarterback John Stocco made as if to drop back, but then planted and sprinted up field on a designed draw play. Tailback Brian Calhoun and center Donovan Raiola made the clinching blocks and Stocco sprinted exultingly through the end zone with Raiola, tight end Owen Daniels and receiver Brandon White forming a security detail by his side as Badgers swarmed in around him in giddy celebration.
Wisconsin 23. Michigan 20.
"I thought our guys were determined," UW coach Barry Alvarez said. "I heard John say, ‘This is what we're all about. It is down to this drive. Put it on us.' They didn't flinch."
Goal line strong
Joe Stellmacher may still be sore from the stinger he suffered tackling UM tailback Kevin Grady, but Stocco's heroics might never have occurred if not for Stellmacher's valiant play on the goal line on UM's first drive of the game.
Stellmacher, a junior strong safety who started his third straight game, initially went down with 7:49 in the first quarter after Grady bulled him over on a two-yard run to convert a third-and-one.
Stellmacher remained out of the lineup until Michigan lined up fourth-and-goal from just outside the UW 1. Again, the short yardage call went to Grady running to the left side. This time Stellmacher filled the hole and stood up Grady, stoning him shy of the end zone. Linebacker Mark Zalewski assisted on the stop, which kept the game tied 0-0.
However, with less than six minutes left in the half, Stellmacher re-aggravated the injury as he assisted on a tackle of Grady at the end of an 11-yard run to the UW 24.
Junior Johnny White, who started the season opener, replaced Stellmacher. All White did was force a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to UW's first touchdown. He also had an interception on UM's next possession.