Quite possibly, UW entered the Dustin Sherer era at this moment. Fans have been restless for a reliable quarterback this season, and believed Sherer could offer hope.
Sherer's debut throwing the ball in a meaningful situation wasn't the best he could have hoped for, but there were some positives from his performance.
"It was fun, it's been a while," said Sherer, who hasn't played consistent minutes since 2004, his senior year of high school in Cicero, Ind. "We threw the ball around a lot, it was kind of nice to go out there and move the ball a little bit."
He finished 9-of-17 with 115 yards and an interception (which could have been two, but the second was overturned by replay). Although the Badgers did not score with Sherer in the game, UW definitely moved the ball downfield with more consistency than when Evridge was the signalcaller.
If nothing else, Sherer will remember being the cause of good cheer for the 81,254 fans in attendance on three occasions; his entrance to the game, and then on his first two plays, a 23-yard completion to tight end Garrett Graham and a 13-yarder to wide receiver Isaac Anderson.
"It was nice, Coach calls a pass play the first play I'm in there," Sherer said. "Hopefully, that shows confidence he has in me."
But once UW got inside the 30-yard-line, Sherer got a little too greedy, overthrowing Graham and getting picked off by PSU safety Lydell Sargeant.
"The times he got in trouble, he really tried to force some things in there," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "I told him that we were in four-down territory any time we got the ball out of our backed-up section. I really like the energy he showed in the huddle."
Added Sherer: "I just overthrew him, got a little anxious. Wish I could have it back, it would have been nice to go down and score on them, but it's a learning experience."
Bielema wouldn't commit to either Evridge or Sherer as his starter next Saturday at Iowa, but indicated by his 12-minute post-game conference, it sounds as if Sherer might have the slight edge.
"I haven't had a chance to visit with Paul, but we'll take everything into consideration," Bielema said. "I do know this, I thought Dustin came in and played well, so we'll go from there. How he performs during the week, that will give us a starter on Saturday."
Hill, Clay share the ball
Evridge isn't the only offensive player whose starting role might be in jeopardy.
UW tailback P.J. Hill did lead the Badgers in rushing with 58 yards on 15 carries, and even reeled off a 15-yarder, his longest rush since the season-opening contest against Akron.
But there's no question Hill might be in a full-fledged timeshare with redshirt freshman John Clay, who finished with 43 yards on 10 carries.
Each player had nine carries in the first two quarters, before the scoreboard got really ugly. Hill started the game, but the two burly backs switched off drives for the remainder of the half.
To note, it was Clay who had the carries on UW's lone scoring drive.
"It was mainly whoever had the hot hand at the time," Clay said. "If we needed a (rest), we'd give a little signal; other than that, we were just rotating in and out."
Clay's role in the offensive gameplan has gradually increased week-by-week, and was clearly still running hard even when his team was down by a wide margin.
"It's exciting that they trust me and that I'm doing what they need me to do," Clay said. "It just shows that I'm ready to play in the game."
Other notes UW right guard Kraig Urbik went down with a leg injury in the third quarter, and Bill Nagy played in his spot the remainder of the game. Bielema didn't have any other information after the game
This is Wisconsin's first three-game losing streak since the final three games of the 2004 season
Linebacker Culmer St. Jean recorded his first career interception deep in Wisconsin's zone in the fourth quarter, helping keep the Nittany Lions under 50 points