Being thoroughly dominated in every phase of the game, the Badgers fell to the Nittany Lions 38-7 Saturday afternoon in University Park, Pa. UW dropped to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten while Penn State improved to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
Penn State struck early on a one-yard touchdown run by Matt Hahn just 1:21 into the game. The score was set up by P.J. Hill's fumble on Wisconsin's first play from scrimmage. PSU recovered the ball on the UW 12-yard line and needed just three plays to make it 7-0 Nittany Lions.
"Anytime you turn the ball over on the opening possession and put the defense behind us and give them points, it just kinds of typified the day," head coach Bret Bielema said. "It wasn't a good day to start with and it got worse as the day went on."
After a Badger punt, Penn State made the score 10-0 following a nine-play, 68-yard drive that was capped with a 30-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly. Wisconsin answered right away though, getting on the board with a one-yard TD run by Hill. That capped a 10-play, 77-yard drive that chewed up 4:05. Hill's one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the 28th of his career, tying him with Lee Evans for fifth all-time at UW. Hill now has 12 touchdowns this season and has scored at least one TD in 16 of his 20 games as a Badger.
The Nittany Lions extended the lead back to 10 points two minutes into the second quarter. Facing a third-and-7 from its own 31, UW quarterback Tyler Donovan looked for David Gilreath over the middle. The pass bounced off Gilreath's hands and into the arms of Lydell Sargeant, who returned it to the UW 47-yard line. Three plays later, PSU's Anthony Morelli connected with Deon Butler on a 29-yard scoring toss to make it 17-7.
The Nittany Lions extended the lead to 24-7 on their next possession. After driving down to the Badgers' 19-yard line, PSU faced a fourth-and-1. Penn State went for it and was rewarded when Evan Royster rushed 19 yards for the score. That completed the scoring in the first half.
On the opening drive of the second half, Penn State covered the field in three minutes and 23 seconds, scoring on a two-yard rushing touchdown by tight end Rodney Kinlaw. The touchdown gave the Nittany Lions a 24 point advantage with just over 26 minutes of play remaining in the game.
The only points of the fourth quarter were recorded by the home team with 4:50 left on the clock. A 17-yard run brought the Penn State offense to the UW one-yard line. Daryll Clark capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown to make it a final 38-7.
After giving up only 201 total yards to Penn State last year in Madison, Wisconsin was no where near those results this year. By halftime, the Nittany Lions already had eclipsed last year's performance – totaling 205 total yards – and finished the game racking up 437 yards through the air and on the ground.
"We've lost the edge of our defense," Bielema said. "Overall defensively, we can not give up that many plays."
Freshman Kyle Jefferson set career highs in both receptions (6) and receiving yards (124). Jefferson is the first Badger true freshman receiver to go over the 100-yard receiving plateau since Brandon Williams did so on Sept. 7, 2002 vs. West Virginia.
"It doesn't feel like my best game because we lost," Jefferson said. "By losing, it doesn't feel like you did enough to help the team win."
Wisconsin has now lost back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 5 and Nov. 12, 2005 and will return home to play its final non-conference game of the season against Northern Illinois.
"We're hurting ourselves in a lot of situations and play together as a unit," said quarterback Tyler Donovan, who was intercepted two times and his seventh time in four Big Ten games. "We've got to find a way to press on forward from this."