Second best in the Big Ten in passing efficiency entering Saturday's Big Ten opener, Tolzien's 47 completions had found its way to 10 different Badger receivers, helping take pressure off a running game that had yet to find solid traction.
Although he hit seven different receivers, Tolzien found senior tight end Garrett Graham early and often, as the duo hooked up five times for 58 yards and three touchdowns, the big different maker is the Badgers' 38-30 victory over the Spartans in a game that wasn't close until the final minutes.
"Anytime you score three touchdowns you're doing alright," said UW head coach Bret Bielema about Graham. "Anytime your seniors are playing well and for a senior captain to be playing the way he is right now, it's just inspirational for everybody."
Graham, who moved into eighth place on UW's career receiving touchdown list with 13, became the sixth Badger to catch at least three touchdown passes in a game, the first since current Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels had three TDs grabs against Temple on Sept. 10, 2005, and each catch showed how important Tolzien and Graham are to UW's offensive success.
The duo's first touchdown came on a 15-yard strike when Tolzien threw the pass in a spot where only Graham could catch it, hauling in just over a retreating linebacker, to give UW (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) a 7-0 lead.
The second score was a low pass that Tolzien unloaded in front of the blitz that Graham scooped into his chest just before the ball hit the turf to push UW's lead to 14-7. The final score, a 23-yard pass Graham hauled in wide open in the end zone, proved to be the final nail in the coffin, giving UW a 38-17 margin.
"It was huge to start fast, getting the fans going and getting everybody into it," Graham said. "As an offense, you can't ask for more. I couldn't be happier with our offense's play."
The man throwing the passes, Tolzien, didn't have a shabby day either. Becoming the seventh UW quarterback to throw at least four touchdown passes in a game, Tolzien finished 19-for-31 for 243 passing yards and no turnovers.
"We knew he was talented, but I don't think anybody was expecting him to come in and start this season," said sophomore Nick Toon, who caught Tolzien's other TD pass. "He's proving everybody wrong."