ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- John Stocco hoped a win over Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl would help silence those who have questioned the quality of Wisconsin's schedule.
"I'm just so tired of hearing that stuff," the Badgers quarterback said.
He won't have to hear much more of it after helping No. 6 Wisconsin to a 17-14 victory over the No. 12 Razorbacks on Monday. Stocco threw for two touchdowns in the first half, and the Badgers (12-1) held on through a tense second half.
Wisconsin won 12 games in a season for the first time, a nice claim for a team overshadowed by Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan. But this was the Badgers' first win over a ranked team. Their only loss was to Michigan, and Ohio State wasn't on their schedule.
"One of the biggest things we did at one of our team meetings this week was that we played some news clips from some of the news stations back in Arkansas," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "Once again, they pointed out that we hadn't played anybody this year ... we certainly used that as a motivational factor."
Arkansas (10-4) had several chances to seize momentum, and each time, Wisconsin held the Razorbacks off.
For example, when the Badgers' Ken DeBauche had a punt blocked in the second quarter, he managed to pick up the loose ball, scramble around and complete a pass. The completion didn't count -- Wisconsin had an ineligible man downfield. But because DeBauche picked up the ball and threw instead of merely falling on it, Arkansas had to take the penalty.
DeBauche got to kick again, and the Razorbacks ended up losing about 50 yards of field position.
"That play helped solidify Ken's place as one of my all-time favorites," Bielema said. "That play may have changed the landscape of the game ... that shows why he's one of the more intelligent players I've been around.
Wisconsin frustrated the Razorbacks from the very start. Arkansas' Darren McFadden broke free for a 45-yard gain on his first carry, but defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu managed to run him down at the 9. The Razorbacks came away with no points when Jeremy Davis missed a 30-yard field goal.
McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, hurt his ankle in the Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 2, and it appeared to be bothering him still.
"If Darren is 100 percent, I don't think anyone would have caught him on that play," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "Usually he's pretty good at 90 percent, too ... the fact that we weren't able to come out of that with any points was pretty big."
The Razorbacks finished with three straight losses after winning 10 in a row. They were trying for their first 11-win season since 1977.
Arkansas committed 12 penalties for 123 yards.
"It hurts real bad, just losing your last three ballgames after going on a 10-0 run," Razorbacks defensive tackle Keith Jackson said. "It's kind of frustrating for the team to know we had the game in our favor. We know we stopped the run. We just couldn't take advantage of our opportunities."
In the third quarter, 35 of the first 41 snaps were in Wisconsin territory, but Arkansas didn't score until Felix Jones' 12-yard run in the fourth.
Wisconsin won nine straight to finish the season and can now boast of a second straight Capital One Bowl win over the Southeastern Conference. The Badgers beat Auburn 24-10 last year, although that didn't necessarily silence the doubters.
"They said Auburn didn't come out to play in that game," Stocco said.
Taylor Mehlhaff opened the scoring for the Badgers with a 52-yard field goal, a career long and a Capital One Bowl record. Jones answered quickly for Arkansas with a 76-yard touchdown run.
Jones finished with a career-high 150 yards on 14 carries, outplaying McFadden and Wisconsin's P.J. Hill.
Stocco, the game's most valuable player, went 14-of-34 for 206 yards with two interceptions. He also was sacked six times, part of the reason Wisconsin's rushing stats were so bad.
But the Badgers passed the ball better than Arkansas. The Razorbacks stuck with their plan to start Casey Dick at quarterback and bring in freshman Mitch Mustain for the third series. That was Mustain's only appearance of the first half, although he returned for a bit in the second.
Dick went 9-of-21 for 98 yards with an interception. Mustain was 5-of-10 for 41 yards with an interception.
McFadden left in the third quarter with a sprained right shoulder, although he returned a short while later. He rushed for 89 yards to finish the season with 1,647, the fifth-highest total in SEC history.
Hill ran for 36 yards, finishing his freshman season with 1,569.
Bielema was in his first season as a head coach. He replaced the retired Barry Alvarez.
"My guess is that there will be several messages on my cell phone from coach Alvarez," Bielema said.