"I knew it was going to be an unusual day because this morning when I got up, I realized I forgot to pack my socks and was going sock-less through pre-game warm-ups," Bielema said.
But it wasn't the lack of socks that made Saturday unusual for Bielema, it was the way in which No. 9 Wisconsin (5-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) defeated No.23 Michigan State (4-1, 0-1) 37-34.
It wasn't the type of game anyone really expected coming from two defensive-minded coaches. Combined there was over 1,000 total offensive yards in the game, and Wisconsin gave up more, allowing Michigan State to gain 564 of them.
Nevertheless, Bielema says the only important thing is winning.
"It's another example of a four-quarter game," Bielema said. "I really believe to win the Big Ten, you got to be able to do those type of things. We didn't do everything right today, but we did enough right to win the football game in the end."
P.J. Hill steadied the Wisconsin offense, running the ball 34 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns. And tight end Travis Beckum complemented the running game with 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought the offense came out and produced a lot, both through the ground and the air," center Marcus Coleman said. "They threw a lot of stuff at us but I thought we did a pretty good job today."
The first half was an offensive shoot-out with the score deadlocked at 21 halfway through the second quarter. However, Wisconsin was able to head into the locker room with a six-point advantage after Taylor Mehlhaff chipped in two field goals on back-to-back possessions.
While the second half wasn't a defensive match-up by any means, the scoring pace sort of slowed down. Wisconsin was able to capture a 10 point lead heading into the fourth quarter at 34-24, but then that's when the real ball game started.
At the start of the fourth quarter, MSU quarterback Brian Hoyer hit wide receiver Mark Dell on a three-yard touchdown pass to trim the lead to three. Then the Spartans were able to capitalize on a Tyler Donovan interception with a field goal to tie things up at 34.
The Wisconsin offense answered right back, storming down the field behind the running of Hill and reserve running back Lance Smith, but the Badgers weren't able to punch in a touchdown despite having a first-and-goal on the four-yard line. Instead UW would have to settle for another Mehlhaff field goal—his third of the day—and hope to hold on for the last five minutes and 53 seconds with a 37-34 lead.
While Donovan said he was preparing on the sidelines with offensive coordinator Paul Chryst for a potential overtime, the senior quarterback had faith in his teammates finishing the game.
"That's what has been pounded in our heads, finishing the ballgame," Donovan said. "Today was a perfect example of that four-quarter game. We had that last week, and we just have to keep pressing forward as a group and learn from these situations."
Wisconsin relatively held Michigan State in check from there on out. MSU wide receiver Devin Thomas did everything he could to put the Spartans in scoring position—returning the kickoff 23 yards, rushing for nine more on the first play and then catching a pass from Brian Hoyer for 11 more yards.
But Michigan State was unable to get in field goal range and Brett Swenson attempted a 53-yarder that missed wide left.
Michigan State did get the ball back for one more shot with two minutes and 11 seconds remaining, but was unable to march down the field. After one first down, the Spartans couldn't get another one and turned over the ball after four downs.
"It just came down to we made the plays at the end of the game to win the game," Jonathan Casillas said. "We found ways to win."