Wisconsin 28, Boise State 24
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ No Dayne, no problem, right?
The Wisconsin Badgers struggled without star running back Ron Dayne on Saturday before shaking off heavy underdog Boise State 28-24 on quarterback Mike Samuel’s 12-yard touchdown scramble with just 49 seconds left.
Samuel was benched for 2 1/2 quarters after throwing two interceptions _ and he lost a fumble upon his return late in the fourth quarter before an indignant crowd of 72,209 at Camp Randall Stadium.
But he came back to set up the winning score with a 28-yard scramble on third-and-12 to the Boise State 25 after somehow slipping the grasp of blitzing cornerback Ross Farris in the backfield.
Boise State was a 36-point underdog. But with Dayne watching from the sideline with a shoulder injury, the Broncos (0-2), who lost by 40 points to Division I-AA Cal State-Northridge last week, nearly pulled off the biggest upset in their history.
They led 17-7 early, 17-14 at halftime and went ahead 24-21 on Eron Hurley’s 1-yard dive with 10:23 left in the game after a fake punt from the Wisconsin 40 when punter Jeff Davis took the long snap and hit diving Tony Mamaril near the goal line.
Boise State looked on its way to the huge upset when free safety Andre Griffin recovered Samuel’s fumble at midfield with 6:23 left.
But Griffin ripped his helmet off in jubilation _ drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty that pushed the Broncos back to their 33.
Boise State then ran three plays and punted and Wisconsin (1-1) got the ball back at its 28 with 4:10 left. Farris blitzed on third-and-12 from the Badgers 47, but Samuel broke free and rambled to the Broncos 25.
Then, on third-and-7 from the 12, Samuel, who was benched in favor of sophomore Scott Kavanagh for most of the game, darted in for the score.
The Badgers’ first lead came early in the third period when Cecil Martin rambled 7 yards following cornerback LaMar Campbell’s interception of Nate Sparks’ first pass of the second half.
Carl McCullough rushed 36 times for 170 yards in place of Dayne, and Boise State managed just 62 yards rushing while Nate was sacked eight times.
But the stunned Badgers needed last-minute heroics just to pull to 17-14 at halftime.
Donny Eicher sacked Sparks and forced a fumble with 3:20 left in the half and John Favret recovered at the Broncos 20, setting up McCullough’s 6-yard TD run that made it 17-14.
Boise State, which had won just two of 12 since moving up from Division I-AA, turned three turnovers into a 17-7 lead early in the second period.
The Broncos began their upset bid by returning a fumble for a score on the first play from scrimmage.
Defensive end Yharman Williams popped the ball from McCullough’s grasp and into the hands of Davis, the punter who also serves as an extra defensive back. He ran untouched down the right sideline for a 33-yard TD.
The Broncos capitalized again on a turnover to take a 10-7 lead after Samuel’s 1-yard keeper had tied it.
Defensive back Sawn Smith intercepted Samuel’s pass at the Boise State 33 and returned it to midfield, setting up Todd Belcastro’s 40-yard field goal.
Then, Davis intercepted Samuel’s pass at the 50 and returned it to the Badgers 15. After a holding call, Sparks took it in himself from 31 yards for a 17-7 lead over the dazed Badgers, and Kavanagh replaced Samuel.