Simply Embarrassing

In what was a fitting end to a starkly disappointing season, Wisconsin commits three turnovers, two of which were returned for defensive touchdowns, and gets run over by the speed and athleticism of Florida State, losing 42-13 in the Champs Sports Bowl.

ORLANDO, Fla. - The marquee for the Champs Sports Bowl matchup was the physicality of Wisconsin against the speed of Florida State.

In the end, speed killed and there was no question about it.

Wisconsin was overmatched on both sides of the football from the opening kickoff and did themselves no favors by committing three fumbles, two of which were returned for touchdowns, in a 42-13 thrashing by unranked Florida State.

The 29-point margin of victory is the greatest in Florida State history and the worst lost since the Badgers lost by 36 in the 1960 Rose Bowl.

Turnovers were the key for the Badgers (7-6), who started the season 3-0 and ranked in the top 10 only to finish with their worst record since the 2003 season. Wisconsin looked poised to open the scoring in the second quarter after the Badgers drove 10 plays deep into Seminole territory. But like so many other times this past season, a turnover deep in the opponent's territory cost UW valuable momentum.

With Sherer attempting a backwards pass to P.J. Hill, linebacker Derek Nicholson read the play perfectly, as Nicholson knocked the pass down, recovered it on the bounce and went 75 yards untouched for the first of many Florida State touchdowns.

Two quarters later, the Seminole (9-4) defense struck again. With standout defensive end Everette Brown applying pressure on Sherer, Brown managed to rip the ball out of the quarterback's grasp, which in turn was picked up by Dekoda Watson. Fifty-one yards later, the Seminoles had a 35-6 lead.

When it was all said and done, Florida State's defense racked up 126 yards and two touchdowns while UW, thanks to a late flurry, racked up 132 passing yards and only a single score.

All three of Wisconsin's turnovers led to a Florida State touchdown.

There were plenty of other issues for Wisconsin other than the speed of Florida State. The Badgers, trailing 7-3 with 40 seconds left in the first half, allowed a back-breaking touchdown with seven seconds left on the clock that was a huge punch in the gut.

After UW notched a field goal to cut the lead to 14-6 at the start of the third quarter, the Seminoles went off for a 16 play, 85-yard touchdown drive that took seven minutes, seven seconds off the clock.

Although FSU running back Antone Smith cashed in the drive, QB Christian Ponder, who had been limited with a bad back in the weeks leading up to the game, was unstoppable, going 6-for-8 on the drive.

Ponder finished the game going 19-for-32 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, as the spread option attack was too much for a Badger defense that had struggled with the spread for the last two seasons.

The touchdown was a killer for Wisconsin, as the defense saw a turnover taken away from them earlier in the drive. On a pass completion by Ponder, safety Jay Valai apparently ripped the ball away from the Seminole defender as the two fell to the turf, resulting in UW's first takeaway of the game. Upon further review, it was ruled the receiver's knee had hit the ground before Valai successfully extracted the ball, meaning Florida State retained possession instead of UW getting the ball inside the FSU 25.

But the real killer for the Badgers was FSU's punter, Graham Gano, which shows how bad this season truly was for UW when they were dominated by a punter. Gano, who was named the game's most valuable player, averaged 48.2 yards on five, had three downed inside the Badger 4 and drew a 15-yard roughing the kicker penalty which ended up leading to another FSU touchdown.

Wisconsin was able to salvage what little dignity it had left when Elijah Theus made his first career catch for a 20-yard touchdown pass with four minutes, six seconds left to cap off the scoring. Even so, that didn't stop the record crowd of 52,692 fans, mostly of the Seminole variety, during the Tomahawk Chop on Wisconsin, putting the finishing slice in a truly unfilled season in Madison.

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