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Evans ties Big Ten record in romp

11/17/2003

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The only thing Lee Evans loves more than
facing Michigan State is seeing the Spartans in man-to-man
coverage.

"If you beat your man, then you can have a lot of success,"
Evans said after tying a Big Ten record with five touchdown catches
in Wisconsin's 56-21 rout of Michigan State (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) on Saturday.

The Spartans never adjusted, doubling Evans only when he lined
up in the slot but usually leaving sophomore cornerback Darren
Barnett to fend for himself whenever Wisconsin's career receiving
leader lined up outside.

"He's the best receiver I've ever faced," Barnett said. "I've
never seen anyone want the ball so much. He's so fluid and
talented. But we didn't come out ready to play him."

Which was surprising, considering that Evans had burned the
Spartans twice before, with a game-winning touchdown in 2000 and a
three-TD, 228-yard performance in 2001.

"Going into the game, we knew what they were going to come out
and do," Evans said. "All week we stressed, 'Beat man-to-man."

But who knew they'd never adjust?

"We probably should have doubled him more," Barnett said.

Evans, who missed all of last season following two knee
surgeries, established several school records on a cold, misty
afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, after which both teams were 7-4
overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten.

His five TD receptions tied the Big Ten mark set in 1993 by
Minnesota's Omar Douglas and he caught a career-best 10 passes for
a school-record 258 yards.

He teamed with Jim Sorgi on TD plays of 9, 75, 18, 70 and 18
yards.

"It was vintage Lee Evans. He put on a show," Badgers coach
Barry Alvarez said.

Sorgi, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 380 yards, became the
first Wisconsin quarterback to throw for four or more touchdowns in
consecutive weeks.

Dwayne Smith, who replaced Booker Stanley (knee) on the first
series, ran 21 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns, giving the
Badgers a 200-yard receiver and 200-yard runner in the same game
for just the second time in school history -- the first time was
against Akron on Sept. 6.

Evans' 258 yards receiving topped Al Toon's record of 252 set
against Purdue in 1983. His 12 TDs this season and 26 for his
career are both school records, too. Tony Simmons held the previous
career mark of 23 TDs from 1994-97 and Evans shared the mark for
nine TDs in a season with Toon.

The Spartans have always been Evans' favorite team to face.

In 2000, he caught just one pass against them, but it was a
45-yard game-winning touchdown with 29 seconds left.

Against Michigan State the following year, his three TDs tied
the school record set by Dave Howard in 1955 and tied by Pat
Richter in 1961.

Evans tied that touchdown total in the first half Saturday,
scoring on passes of 9, 75 and 18 yards as the Badgers rolled to a
28-7 halftime lead.

After his 75-yard reception made it 21-0, Chad Simon returned
the kickoff 59 yards to the Badgers 25, and Jeff Smoker hit Kyle
Brown in stride for a 21-yard touchdown with 2:51 left before
halftime.

Evans wasn't done, however.

Smith reeled off a 60-yard run to the Spartans' 21, setting up
Evans' 18-yard TD catch with 1:39 left in the half that made it
28-7.

In the third quarter, Evans caught a 6-yard pass in the right
flat and blew past Barnett for a 70-yard score and a 35-7 lead.

"It was like everything he caught he was going to take to the
end zone," teammate Brandon Williams said.

Evans' final TD came on a diving, fingertips catch that made it
42-14 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.

"It was his show today," Spartans cornerback Ashton Watson
said. "Every time he caught the ball, you had to hold your breath.
You didn't know what was going to happen."

Except that he usually ended up in the end zone.

"We were thinking there was something we could do," safety
Greg Cooper said. "But we never found an answer."

The only one who stopped Evans from having an even bigger day
was Alvarez, who called him over to the sideline after his final
catch, a 9-yarder that allowed him to surpass Toon's single-game
yardage record with 13{ minutes remaining.

Evans watched from the sideline as Smith capped the Badgers' big
day with scoring runs of 14 and 26 yards.

The Badgers snapped a three-game losing streak in sending the
Spartans to their third straight loss and their worst defeat in
John L. Smith's first season as coach.

"We got our tails kicked up between our shoulders today," he
said. "Our kids didn't play with abandon. They didn't play with
emotion. That's on our shoulders as coaches. We were embarrassed."

As for Evans' performance, Smith said: "They just threw it up
in the air and our DBs were on an island."

Stranded, all afternoon.