Upset win sends signal for respect

first_imgWith a four-yard John Stocco touchdown scamper on a quarterback draw, the Wisconsin Badgers accomplished quite a bit more than just a win. Stocco’s score gave Wisconsin a bit of redemption following years of struggles against Michigan and simultaneously sent a loud, booming knock on the national scene’s doorstep.In beating the Wolverines for the first time since 1994, the Badgers made their Associated Press top-25 debut, entering the poll at No. 17. And, whether it is completely justified or not, beating Michigan catapults Wisconsin into a group of Big Ten title contenders that includes Ohio State, Michigan State and Minnesota after the weekend.”To beat Michigan in a game like that, the crowd was going crazy,” linebacker Dontez Sanders said. “The guys that have been here for five years deserved it. We never stopped fighting. We went out there and we deserved to win this game. And we did win.”Not surprisingly, the win wasn’t pretty. Wisconsin fell behind 13-3 after the opening half, with Michigan dominating the time-of-possession battle before the Badgers turned the tables.It wasn’t a high-scoring, up-and-down-the-field track meet. Though Stocco put the ball in the air an un-Wisconsin-like 32 times, the Badgers used a grind-it-out style to control the game clock in the second half, with tailback Brian Calhoun seemingly willing the offense to successive first downs on the game-winning scoring drive.Heading into the year, Calhoun’s stock was high. The expectations were that he would fall next into the line of standout Wisconsin runners. But his play thus far has exceeded those expectations. Even beyond his game statistics against Michigan (which, at 155 yards rushing, one touchdown and seven receptions for 59 yards in the air, is quite impressive), Calhoun ran tough and competed seemingly tirelessly for all four quarters, as he has done in all four Badger wins to start the season. Continuing to play like that against a team like Michigan, however, elevated Calhoun into the likes of the greatest tailbacks to ever come through Wisconsin.”He’s the total package,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “He can do it all; he can run for tough yardage, he’s got sprinter’s speed, he can make you miss, he has soft hands. He’s carried as many times as Ronnie (Dayne), but he’s the package now. I don’t know where you go to find anybody that can do any more than he can.”Stocco’s performance earned him the right to demand a little respect for once, on a team that is due for its fair share of pub from the national pundits. In what is becoming a theme in his young career, Stocco’s stat line failed to do him justice. He isn’t, and probably never will be, a highlight-reel passer. What he has done thus far in his career, however, is post a 13-3 record in the games he has started.”The No. 1 goal is to win games,” Stocco said. “Obviously it’s nice to have some success throwing the football as a quarterback and moving the chains, that’s all pretty and good. But I just want to win games. That’s the No. 1 goal.”Now, Wisconsin will need to carry the emotions and momentum over from one of the biggest wins at Camp Randall into the rest of the season if it hopes to establish itself as a true Big Ten title contender.”It puts us in the driver’s seat,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “It’s right where we want to be. We still control our own destiny and you don’t want to get in a situation where you have to worry about other teams losing in order to get where you want to go.”last_img

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