While Wisconsin's offense has the luxury of spreading opponents out and beating them through the air…
To quote Yogi Berra it looked like "déjà vu all over again" for Wisconsin in the opening moments. For the second week in a row, the opponent got on the scoreboard first. With a 97-yard kickoff return, North Carolina's Michael Waddell took just 13 seconds to quiet the Camp Randall crowd.
Unlike the previous week, however, the inauspicious start for the Badgers was not the precursor of the game's outcome. This time Wisconsin (3-1) picked up the 38-27 victory. North Carolina fell to 0-3 this season.
Wisconsin redshirt freshman Booker Stanley proved to be a solid replacement for the injured Anthony Davis and his injured backup Dwayne Smith. Stanley picked up the first touchdown of his career, a five-yard run, on the Badgers' second drive. The touchdown capped a 54-yard drive after the defense had stopped the Tar Heels three-and-out on their second possession of the game.
Stanley's second touchdown was the conversion of a Tar Heel turnover. Wisconsin's Ryan Aiello recovered a Ronnie McGill fumble on the North Carolina three-yard line. On Stanley's third try, he took the ball in for the one-yard touchdown.
On his ensuing kickoff, Mike Allen, pressed into service for injured kickoff specialist Scott Campbell, played safety valve as he prevented the Tar Heels Waddell from getting his second touchdown on a kickoff return. Allen pushed Waddell out of bounds at the 50-yard line, preventing another UNC special teams touchdown. Eight plays later, the Tar Heels tied the game for the last time when quarterback Darian Durant ran in the one-yard touchdown at 13:51 of the second quarter.
Complementing Stanley's running was the Jim Sorgi-to-Lee Evans passing connection. Evans picked up the third Badger score of the game with a 44-yard pass reception. Evans beat the defender cleanly, racing into the end zone for his fourth touchdown reception of the season and the 18th of his career. With 10:59 showing on the second quarter clock, the Badgers took a 21-14 lead, which they never relinquished.
Stanley's final touchdown of the game came on a two-yard run with 8:48 to go in the third quarter. The run culminated a 35-yard drive that was aided by an interference with the punt receiver penalty against the Tar Heels. It took the Badgers six plays to move the 35 yards and take the 28-17 lead. Stanley finished the game with 28 rushes for 119 yards.
The Badgers final touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when Sorgi connected with Darrin Charles for the 17-yard touchdown. The 80-yard drive ate up 6:09 on the clock, the most time of any of the scoring drives of the game. An 18-yard pass from Sorgi to Tony Paciotti (the first reception of his career) was the longest play on a methodical scoring drive.
After the debacle against UNLV, the Wisconsin defense did a better job of shutting down the opponent's offense, allowing just two offensive touchdowns, one as time expired in the game, and two field goals. The defense forced two fumbles and picked up two interceptions, including one that Jim Leonhard returned 54 yards, setting up Allen's 20-yard field goal.
Though playing from behind most of the game, the Tar Heels did not quit. With 2:23 go in the game, a Mike Mason kickoff return for touchdown was called back on a penalty. The Tar Heels were forced to start at their own 30 but scored when freshman receiver Jesse Holley caught a Hail Mary pass from CJ Stephens in the end zone as time expired.
The Badgers came away with 402 offensive yards—209 rushing and 193 passing. Sorgi went 12 for 20 passing and had two throws intercepted. The Tar Heels had 309 total yards of offense—199 passing and 110 rushing. Durant and Stephens were a combined 16 for 31 passing and Durant was intercepted once.
Luckily for the Badgers the turnaround from last week was as different as the weather, sunny and pleasant today as opposed to pouring rain last week. It was a brighter day and certainly not déjà vu.