CLEVELAND (AP) -- John Stocco threw a touchdown pass and sneaked
for a score, leading Wisconsin to a 35-14 win over Bowling Green in
Bret Bielema's debut as Badgers coach on Saturday night.
Redshirt freshman P.J. Hill, a bruising 242-pounder in the Ron
Dayne mold, had 130 yards on 22 carries and scored a late TD for
Wisconsin, playing its first game since 1990 without coach Barry
Alvarez on the sideline.
The Badgers didn't look much different with Bielema in charge.
Stocco, slowed recently by a knee injury, finished an efficient
9-of-15 for 124 yards, and Hill put Bowling Green away with a
10-yard run with 5:19 left, taking shots from six Falcons defenders
on his way to the end zone.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Freddie Barnes was most of Bowling
Green's offense. He ran for 158 yards -- a school record for a QB --
and two TDs.
The 36-year-old Bielema has some big cleats to fill at
Now the school's athletic director, Alvarez transformed the
Badgers from Big 10 also-ran into a perennial power, posting a
118-73-4 record and leading the club to three conference titles and
three Rose Bowl wins.
Bielema was Alvarez's defensive coordinator the past two
seasons, taking took over the Wisconsin program from his former and
current boss following last season's win over Auburn in the Captial
The team he inherited doesn't have the offensive firepower of
last year's squad as running back Brian Calhoun was among six
Badgers taken in the NFL draft. But other Badger staples remain:
Stocco, a massive offensive line and a bruising, low-risk defense.
A fifth-year senior, Stocco recently underwent minor knee
surgery and missed two weeks of training camp. His playing status
was a game-time decision, but he was mobile and accurate all night.
After Bowling Green pulled within 21-14 on Barnes' 2-yard
scoring run in the third quarter, Stocco guided the Badgers on a
75-yard drive, completing a 4-yard TD pass to fullback Bill
Barnes was only supposed to be keeping the seat warm for starter
Anthony Turner, who won the job in the spring but was serving a
one-game suspension for marijuana possession. But Barnes'
performance may cause BG coach Gregg Brandon to reconsider placing
Turner back in the starting lineup.
Ben Strickland's 33-yard punt return set up Stocco's 1-yard
plunge with 17 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the
Badgers a 21-7 lead at the half.
Wisconsin's special teams put the Badgers up 14-7 in the second
After Bowling Green stopped Wisconsin on fourth down at the
4-yard line, the Badgers' defense pinned the Falcons deep, forcing
a punt from near the goal line. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas then
slipped through BG's spread-block formation, snuffed freshman
Alonso Rojas' kick and recovered it in the end zone.
Bowling Green took the opening kickoff, and with Barnes freezing
Badger linebackers with fakes inside, the Falcons drove 80 yards
and took a 7-0 lead when Barnes darted through the middle from the
The Badgers, who beat Bowling Green 56-42 in their home opener
last season, responded on their first possession as Dywon Rowan
scored on a 7-yard run to tie it 7-7.
Former Hawaii quarterback Nick Rolovich will take over his alma mater and said Monday he plans to focus on the bonds his players develop with one another, not on any specific offense or defense.
The first bowl matchup is set, with Western Michigan joining Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl, a source said.
The Big Ten issued its first batch of postseason honors on Monday night, unveiling its All-Big Ten teams and individual awards on defense and special teams.
USA Today's Dan Wolken joins The Paul Finebaum Show to weigh in on Mark Richt's exit and his possible replacement.
SEC Network analyst and former LSU player Marcus Spears weighs in on the LSU coaching situation.
SEC Inside, the new show on SEC Network Wednesdays this fall, highlights the sights and sounds of SEC football.