The Replacements

Blake Sorensen (Fleming/File)

With Chris Borland out for the season and Mike Taylor still aiming to get back to 100 percent physically, No.10 Wisconsin needed players to step up to the challenge. With senior Blake Sorensen and junior Kevin Claxton coming off their best games, the Badgers have some confidence heading to No.13 Iowa this afternoon.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It is a question that often gets asked of athletes but rarely is answered with a direct response:

"Was that the best game you have ever played?"

For whatever reason, players often choose to duck the query, taking the humble approach. "I don't know, it was pretty good I guess," and "I don't look at things that way" are common deflections when asked to rank a performance.

Which makes it all the more definitive when talking to Wisconsin linebacker Blake Sorensen and he proclaims the Ohio State contest as the best game he has ever played.

Period.

"It was a lot of fun. It was a special game and obviously the stakes were a little bit higher playing the No. 1 team," Sorensen said. "People talk about being in the zone, but I kind of felt like every time they snapped the ball it was my play to make."

The numbers against the Buckeyes stand out on their own. Sorensen led the team in tackles with 10, including a half tackle for a loss on quarterback Terrelle Pryor and capped it all off with the game-sealing interception of Pryor at the end of the fourth quarter.

His name was called again and again Saturday night and he expects to be called against when No.13 Wisconsin travel to No.13 Iowa this afternoon.

But it is the circumstances surrounding the numbers that make the performance all the more impressive. Up against the No. 1 team in the country, at night, with as much pressure as one football game can possibly contain.

Sorensen, who weighs in at 231 pounds, is being charged with taking down the elusive Pryor, who carries 240 pounds himself on his 6-foot-6 frame. Sorensen won the battle with the more athletic Pryor several times on the ground before picking him off to put the definitive stamp on the competition.

"It was definitely a special feeling, that interception felt pretty good because it ended the game," Sorensen said. "And I am not going to lie, Pryor is a freak. It will definitely be fun not tackling him this week.

"It is something I will remember forever."

And Sorensen wasn't the only linebacker who played the game of his life that night.

With Mike Taylor injuring his left knee early during the course of the game, backup linebacker junior Kevin Claxton stepped up in his place and stepped up in a big way.

"It was impressive," Sorensen said of Claxton. "We have a deep unit, which says a lot about our coaching, they do a great job. Next man in and K-Clax stepped up."

Claxton finished the game with six tackles in just over two quarters of play.

It was also probably the best game for Claxton since donning the Cardinal and White, but for different reasons.

"It is the most reps I have gotten as a Badger, so yeah I would say it is my best," Claxton said.

Moving forward, the depth at linebacker will be invaluable with Taylor's status uncertain for Iowa and the rest of the season. Claxton made the switch from safety to linebacker during the off-season, but has shown himself up the task of handling it so far.

"It has gone well so far. When I first moved over it was a little rough, but I just kept at it and working hard led to gaining confidence," Claxton said. "Whenever coach calls my numbers to go in, that is when I go."

The Badgers are going to need it.

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