MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin escaped an upset bid by Cal Poly of the Football Championship Subdivision, mounting a late comeback and capitalizing on three missed extra points to win 36-35 in overtime Saturday on John Clay's second touchdown of the game.
The victory improves Wisconsin to 7-5 and makes it likely the Badgers will be invited to a bowl game, a bittersweet accomplishment for a team that began the season with expectations of contending for a Big Ten title and at one point climbed into the top 10 in the rankings.
Wisconsin looked headed for another disappointing loss midway through the fourth quarter as James Noble punched it in from 2 yards to give Cal Poly a 29-21 lead. But Andrew Gardner missed his second extra point of the game, leaving an opening for the Badgers.
Wisconsin quarterback Dustin Sherer took advantage of the opportunity, marching Wisconsin 89 yards in nine plays. The drive was capped by P.J. Hill's 3-yard touchdown run. Wisconsin again handed off to Hill on the 2-point try, tying up the game.
The Mustangs had a chance to win the game with 12 seconds left after bringing in sophomore Jake West, who handles kickoffs, to try a 46-yard field goal. But West, whose long field in high school was 32 yards, came up about 15 yards short.
Cal Poly (8-2) struck back on the first play of overtime. Quarterback Jonathan Dally hit Ramses Barden for a 25-yard touchdown, the 19th straight game in which Barden has hauled in a TD pass.
But Gardner missed again, this time clanking the extra point try off the right upright.
Wisconsin gave the ball to Clay three times on its OT possession, and he scored from 6 yards out. Philip Welch kicked the extra point to seal the win. Clay rushed for 107 yards.
Cal Poly, ranked No. 3 in the FCS coaches poll, used its wing-T formation to rush for 276 yards, the most Wisconsin has given up this season. Dally led the Mustangs with 213 total yards and two scores, one through the air and one on the ground.
For Wisconsin, Hill's 59 yards rushing put him over 1,000 yards for the third straight season, only the second Badger to accomplish that.