Shutout Notebook

Find out why Coach Bielema does not regret his fourth-down decisions and how the Badgers reacted to a big Michigan victory with the Big House on the docket for next weekend.

If one thing became clear on Saturday, it was that UW first-year head coach Bret Bielema is not afraid to take a chance on fourth down.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, while Bielema gave his team three attempts to convert on fourth down, it did not get the job done on any of them.

The first attempt could have been a real morale booster. The Badgers had gone 75 yards on eight plays, marching all the way inside the Aztec's 10-yard line when they came upon a fourth-and-three situation.

After calling a timeout to talk it over, redshirt freshman P.J. Hill took the handoff, but could muster just one yard, stalling out a drive that kept the game scoreless.

"It would have been a chip-shot field goal for [kicker Taylor Mehlhaff], but I wanted to set an attitude and a precedence with our offense," Bielema said. "We weren't able to execute … We're going to need that in Big Ten play. We need to score a touchdown right there."

Early in the fourth quarter, a similar situation arose with the Badgers near midfield. The initial spot after a third-down catch by Hill gave UW a first down, but a review of the play reversed the call and left Wisconsin with a fourth-and-one.

Bielema and the offensive staff opted to go for it again, this time relying on a diving sneak by senior quarterback John Stocco. The signal caller dove ahead, but the ball was spotted short of the first down.

It looked like Bielema was about to use his challenge, but he called a timeout instead as the ball was turned over on downs.

"We made a decision to go with the quarterback sneak, which usually you can count on that for half a yard, at a minimum, to a yard," Bielema said. "I wanted to call a timeout and have a nice discussion with the person involved. That's why I called it and didn't use a challenge."

Bielema said that the third and final shot on fourth down was not necessarily about getting the first down, but more about running more time off of the clock. Nonetheless, a three-yard scamper by Stocco was not enough to convert a fourth-and-six situation.

After Saturday, the Badgers are now 0-for-4 on fourth-down conversions through three games this season, but Bielema said he does not regret any of his fourth-down decisions against SDSU.

"Would I take [the decisions] back? No … we won the game," Bielema said.

He also said that those decisions were not necessarily a foreshadowing of what he would do if faced with the same situations against Big Ten foes.

"It's probably a little bit of an indication, but I don't [say] we'd always do that," Bielema said.

One if by land, two if by air

The one case where Bielema chose not to go for a first down on a fourth-and-short situation came late in the third quarter.

The Badgers needed just one yard, but instead UW opted to give junior kicker Taylor Mehlhaff a shot at a 55-yard field goal. However, that scoring opportunity went by the wayside when the attempt sailed wide right.

"I turned to him and asked if he felt like he could hit it," Bielema said. "The first thing, coming off the field, Kenny [DeBauche] said to me ‘He pulled through it,' and that's what he did."

Mehlhaff had looked comfortable kicking towards that end in warm-ups, converting from the 55-yard mark.

"I really felt like I should've made that kick," Mehlhaff said. "I was acting like I was hitting a 55-yard kick with no wind at my back … I should've just swung nice and easy.

"I'd do anything to have that one back, but I guess I just have to take it and learn from it."

Mehlhaff is now 0-for-4 during his UW career in field goal attempts of 50 or more yards, but he is 16-of-19 on kicks from less than that mark.

Still searching for a go-to wideout

While Paul Hubbard recorded his first-career touchdown with a six-yard reception in the fourth quarter, the Wisconsin offense still failed to find a primary wide receiver through three games this season.

Stocco finished with just 85 yards passing on the game and a long of 21 yards which came on tight end Travis Beckum's only reception of the day.

Hubbard and Hill led the way with three catches apiece. Hubbard leads the team on the season with eight catches for 124 yards.

Another sellout

The announced attendance for Saturday's game was 81,090, the 20th straight sellout at Camp Randall.

Reactions to a Michigan victory With a trip to Michigan on the agenda for next weekend, much of the post-game talk centered on the reaction to the Wolverines' 47-21 victory over No. 2-ranked Notre Dame Saturday.

Here's a sampling of the Badgers' initial reactions.

Kraig Urbik: "It'll be my first trip to a huge place like that so it'll be great. We've just got to come out, get a good game plan … and come play our game."

Jack Ikegwuonu: "As soon as we got in the locker room we were already talking about it. We know we've got big fish to fry on Saturday and that's the way we're looking at it. I think you've got to come into this week of practice with the mindset that what we did this week isn't going to get it done next week."

Jason Chapman: "It really doesn't matter [if they won or not]. We play whoever, whenever."

Bielema: "Nothing's going to change. We're not going to falter from [that preparation] as coaches. Our players will take the same approach."

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