Clay, Wisconsin show future may be rosy in bowl win over Miami
They jumped around Tuesday -- even without the music. When the third quarter ended at the Champs Sports Bowl, the Citrus Bowl's in-house DJ didn't immediately hit play on the
Wisconsin's players noticed, and they jumped around, too. As the Badgers' offensive linemen (average weight for starters: 326.5 pounds) shook the earth, the signature horns finally blared over the speakers, and for a moment we were all transported back to a time when H.O.P. frontman
If one particular Badger doesn't make a jump of his own, we may be on the verge of watching another two-headed tailback monster leading Wisconsin onto the field in Pasadena in 367 days.
A year ago, the Badgers came to this same bowl and got throttled by a nine-win ACC team (Florida State). Tuesday, Wisconsin showed how much it has grown with a 20-14 win against Miami
"It's definite that I'm coming back," the Badgers' 6-foot-1, 248-pound bullet train of a tailback said after an MVP performance that featured 121 rushing yards and both of Wisconsin's touchdowns. "I've been telling everyone this whole year that we'll have an explosive offense. The sky's the limit. ... I'm not going to miss an opportunity to be part of this again."
Clay, a redshirt sophomore, could jump to the NFL if he wanted. Instead, he has chosen to reunite himself with backfield mate
Clay has good reason to be optimistic. The Badgers return their entire offensive line. They return quarterback
The Badgers will need to find someone to replace defensive end
Lest we get too excited about one win in a Dec. 29 bowl, we should remember that Wisconsin hadn't beaten a ranked team until Tuesday. But consider the youth of the Badgers, and consider where they were a year ago.
After the Florida State loss, Wisconsin coach
They should be very excited. With that line and those backs and a defense that can bring the heat down after down, Wisconsin might even break the 40-minute time of possession mark a few times next season. Tuesday, the Badgers hogged the ball for 39 minutes, 15 seconds. "It does kind of change your gameplan," said Miami quarterback
When a local reporter asked Bielema about the importance of possession time, the coach just laughed. "Are you from down here?" Bielema asked, incredulous. "That's what we do. We're time of possession fools."
Winning by bleeding the clock and punting inside the 10 may not set the blood boiling for those accustomed to the pinball offenses that have taken over the Big 12 and Pac-10, and because it's -- say this in your deepest
Wisconsin still has some growing to do to make that dream come true. They have a favorable schedule that brings Ohio State to Camp Randall Stadium, and they don't have to play Penn State, but they do go to Iowa, and they'll have to be more consistent against the teams that won't contend for the title.
After the win, Tolzein looked back and explained how Tuesday proved just how far Wisconsin has come. "I think everyone realized that up until this game, we had won the games we were supposed to win, but there wasn't a big win, per se," Tolzein said. "This is a real exclamation point."
Bielema, meanwhile, provided an even better descriptor. In analyzing the win, he hit upon the perfect term. He called it a catapult.