Hubbard's Hard Work Pays Off

Wide receiver Paul Hubbard paved the way for the Badgers with the game's lone touchdown. While his five catches and game-high 77 yards were impressive, what was more noteworthy was the number zero ... as in the number of passes dropped by the junior.

If you had one guess as to who would score the Wisconsin Badgers' lone touchdown Saturday in a win over Penn State, who would you have picked?

If you didn't answer P.J. Hill to that question, you are probably lying. Either that, or you went on a limb to say Travis Beckum, Andy Crooks, Luke Swan, Dywon Rowan or Lance Smith.

Very few, if any, would have guessed wide receiver Paul Hubbard.

The junior got some love from a few of his teammates during a weekly "Ask the Badgers" segment on Camp Randall's video board. His name was the first mentioned when the players were asked which of their teammates would most likely be on the cover of GQ Magazine.

But it was Hubbard's touchdown catch with just 0:23 remaining in the first half that may have been worthy of the cover of Sports Illustrated.

"It felt really good, we were in need of a big play and needed to score," Hubbard said. "The game was going back and forth and I felt we needed to score to separate ourselves from them."

Indeed with time winding down in the second quarter, it looked like another Badger drive was about to stall. After a completion for no gain and an incomplete pass, UW faced a third-and-10 inside the Nittany Lion red zone.

It was a simple play and a route that Hubbard has probably run dozens of times. He simply ran an out about eight yards and then slanted upfield into the endzone.

He jumped up with a Penn State defender on his back, but stuck with the ball and hauled it in.

"They've seen that play so many times. We've ran it against them, (Jonathan Orr) has scored so many times on the play," Hubbard said. "I kind of cheated the play a little bit because they were playing outside leverage so I cut it in early and Stocco saw it."

The Colorado Springs, Colo., native said he knew that may have been the ballgame.

"This is a game that we knew was going to go back and forth," he said. "We knew it was going to be a fistfight and we knew one touchdown could be the winner, deciding the game."

The receiver had arguably the biggest play of the game in what may have been his finest outing of the season to date.

When all was said and done, he finished with five receptions, a game-high 77 receiving yards and his third touchdown of the season. And all of that came just one week after he went without a catch in a victory over Illinois.

"I feel like in this week's preparation … I put myself in a position to go out there and make plays," Hubbard said. "We went out there today and they came to me and they just kept coming and it boosted my confidence level up there some more."

Aside from the touchdown snag and a few longer receptions, fans probably did not notice him all that much. While that does not sound very glamorous for the potential GQ cover boy, it may actually be the best news of all.

It meant that he did not have any dropped passes, something that has plagued him all season long.

"No drops," he said after the game with a smile. "I feel like I've come a long ways. I have had a lot of trials and tribulations … I've come a long ways and I've overcome (them)."

First-year head coach Bret Bielema took some heat this past week over a quote in which he said Hill needed to take some "toughen-up pills." After assuring everyone that there was no malice in that comment, he was able to make light of the situation Saturday.

"Well, we're giving (Hubbard) some ‘catching pills,'" Bielema joked. "I really feel that as the season's come along, (he) has really grown as a football player. He's got tremendous ability … and he's a young guy that continues to make plays."

"I don't know about that," Hubbard said when asked if "catching pills" were the answer. "(It) was just a little more extra work in there after practice and before."

All joking aside, his extra work showed on Saturday. And who knows, if he keeps it up, maybe he will find himself on the cover of a magazine before his career at UW is over.

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