12:00 PM ET, September 15, 2007
Camp Randall Stadium, MADISON, WI
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Given the fact that he outweighed all but two of the defensive starters he was facing, it wasn't a surprise to see Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill rumble for a school record-tying five touchdowns.
The surprise was that The Citadel offense managed to keep up with the Badgers for a half.
The Bulldogs gave the seventh-ranked Badgers a scare of Appalachian proportions in the first half before Wisconsin pulled away to a 45-31 victory.
For Hill, the 227-pound bulldozer who was the Big Ten freshman of the year last season, it was a chance to emerge as a leader.
"Coach is always telling me the weight is on my shoulders," Hill said. "I'll take it, when I see the opportunity to get a few yards or score a touchdown."
Wisconsin (3-0) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 12 games and never trailed.
But for a while, it looked like they were in danger of becoming the second Big Ten powerhouse to be upset by a team from what used to be known as Division I-AA this season.
The Citadel (2-1), a member of the Championship Subdivision, matched Wisconsin touchdown-for-touchdown and went into halftime tied at 21.
"Their eyes weren't big," Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins said. "They believed they could win this football game."
Maybe the Badgers should've seen it coming.
The Citadel's only loss in its previous seven games was to Appalachian State last season. Appalachian State, of course, upset Michigan 34-32 on Sept. 1. Higgins said he didn't use that game to motivate his players.
He probably didn't have to.
"There's a part of you that says, 'You know what? If they can do it, we can do it too,' " Higgins said.
They did it with a spread offense similar to the Washington State and UNLV schemes that gave the Badgers' defense fits in their first two games. The Bulldogs had 245 yards to Wisconsin's 188 in the first half.
Three times in the first half, the Badgers took the lead on a touchdown by Hill.
And all three times, the Bulldogs marched right back to tie the game.
At halftime, Badgers coach Bret Bielema told his defense their play was unacceptable.
"They have big ears," Bielema said.
Hill scored his fourth touchdown of the day on the first drive in the second half to give Wisconsin a 28-21 lead.
After that, the Bulldogs' offense ran out of answers.
"We already knew we could beat them," Bulldogs running back Tory Cooper said. "It was just disappointing we couldn't finish it."
Wisconsin's highly touted defense finally asserted itself on the next series with a sack by blitzing safety Aubrey Pleasant and an interception by safety Shane Carter after Citadel quarterback Duran Lawson threw into double-coverage down the sideline.
"They had three real quick scores and emotions were real high," Pleasant said. "We just needed to calm down and come out with intensity, ready to win."
Wisconsin still couldn't quite put the game out of reach, settling for a 22-yard field goal by Taylor Mehlhaff to take a 31-21 lead despite having first-and-goal at the 4.
The Badgers' defense forced another three-and-out and Hill broke the game open on an 11-yard touchdown reception from Tyler Donovan. Hill is the fifth player in school history to score five touchdowns in a game.
He gained 168 yards rushing on 25 carries and caught two passes for 20 yards.
The Badgers took a 45-21 lead in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Donovan to Travis Beckum. Donovan was 14-of-20 for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs got a field goal later in the fourth quarter and a touchdown with 11 seconds left in the game to cut the final deficit to 45-31.
Lawson was 23-of-35 for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Cooper had 63 yards rushing, 89 yards receiving and a touchdown catch.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Tyler Donovan tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Travis Beckum to put the Badgers up 45-21 in the fourth quarter. The Badgers were one bad quarter from pulling a Michigan.
Gameball goes to... P.J. Hill. Hill single-handedly kept Wisconsin in the game. The sophomore running back carried the ball 25 times, racking up four touchdowns and 168 yards in the win.
Stat of the game... 12. After a brief scare, Wisconsin successfully extended the nation's longest winning streak to 12 games. The Badgers get Iowa at home next week to try to make it 13.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-12||6-11|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-1|
|TD||10:28||P.J. Hill 22 Yd Run (Taylor Mehlhaff Kick)||0||7|
|TD||07:28||Tim Higgins 10 Yd Pass From Duran Lawson (Mike Adams Kick)||7||7|
|TD||09:05||P.J. Hill 2 Yd Run (Taylor Mehlhaff Kick)||7||14|
|TD||04:09||Aaron Kelly 6 Yd Pass From Duran Lawson (Mike Adams Kick)||14||14|
|TD||03:01||P.J. Hill 1 Yd Run (Taylor Mehlhaff Kick)||14||21|
|TD||00:59||Tory Cooper 19 Yd Pass From Duran Lawson (Mike Adams Kick)||21||21|
|TD||08:38||P.J. Hill 1 Yd Run (Taylor Mehlhaff Kick)||21||28|
|FG||03:57||Taylor Mehlhaff 22 Yd||21||31|
|TD||14:54||P.J. Hill 11 Yd Pass From Tyler Donovan (Taylor Mehlhaff Kick)||21||38|
|TD||12:27||Travis Beckum 25 Yd Pass From Tyler Donovan (Taylor Mehlhaff Kick)||21||45|
|FG||05:03||Mike Adams 38 Yd||24||45|
|TD||00:11||Taylor Cornett 1 Yd Pass From Duran Lawson (Mike Adams Kick)||31||45|