LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Wisconsin needed some good fortune to get out of Sin City with a win.
Tyler Donovan scored on a 29-yard boot leg with 1:53 to play and the fifth-ranked Badgers held on for a 20-13 victory over UNLV Saturday night.
"I know our players prepared the right way, but we shoot ourselves in the foot," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "Every game there is a fork in the road. I'm happy to get out of here winning by one or seven, 18 or whatever it is.'
UNLV, a four touchdown underdog, took a 13-12 midway through the fourth on a 35 yard field goal from Sergio Aguayo.
"Obviously it wasn't as easy as people thought," Bielema said. "The thing I said to them after the game was that there are going to be several team in the country that are going to be put in the same situation, on the road, in a hostile environment."
But Donovan, the senior who won the starting job in summer practice, led the Badgers (2-0) on a 10-play, 61 yard drive to avoid the upset. He outraced a pair of tacklers and dove into the end zone at the pylon.
On the decisive score, he faked a handoff to P.J. Hill, outraced a pair of defenders and dove into the end zone at the pylon. He added a successful 2-point conversion pass to Luke Swan.
"I used my power to get the points on the board," Donovan jokingly said.
Donovan completed 14-of-26 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, a 3-yard strike to Garrett Graham on the first play of the second quarter. But a botched snap on the extra point attempt kept the Rebels ahead, 7-6.
Hill led Wisconsin with 147 yards on 20 carries.
Taylor Mehlhaff?s 25-yarder at the end of the first half gave Wisconsin a 9-7 lead. He also had a 51-yarder in the third quarter.
UNLV, which has only won two games in each of the past three years, couldn't help thinking what could have been.
"We were right there. We couldn't make the play at the end," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "We don't believe in moral victories, but on the other hand, there is tremendous hope for the future."
It wouldn't have been the first time UNLV upset Wisconsin. The Rebels were victorious 23-5 in 2003 in Camp Randall when the Badgers were ranked No. 14.
The Rebels will have another chance at a ranked team when they host No. 20 Hawaii next week.
Freshman Travis Dixon was 23-of-36 for 258 yards and a touchdown for UNLV (1-1). His 5-yard scoring strike to Casey Flair at 3:13 of the first quarter gave the Rebels a 7-0 lead.
Flair had a game-high 10 receptions for 126 yards, but UNLV couldn?t get anything going on the ground. It only had 48 rushing yards on 27 carries. Aguayo added a 25-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Tyler Donovan scored on a 29-yard bootleg with less than two minutes left in the game to give the Badgers the lead.
Gameball goes to... Donovan. Wisconsin's signal-caller threw for 138 yards and a score, and he ran for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Stat of the game... 210. In a game much closer than expected, Wisconsin's 210 rushing yards were the difference. UNLV had just 48.