Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin looking to erase bad memories

[media-credit name=’BRYAN FAUST/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]fb_39_bf[/media-credit]When the Penn State Nittany Lions enter Camp Randall Saturday, Joe Paterno's team will look different than the one that embarrassed the Wisconsin Badgers last year in a game between serious contenders for the Big Ten title. With quarterback Michael Robinson, defensive end Tamba Hali, and other Penn State players gone from the Lions' roster, Paterno has struggled to match the success he found in 2005.

That doesn't matter to Badger players, who say they're still bitter about not only leaving Happy Valley a year ago with their conference championship hopes shot down, but also after trying to figure out how they were so dominated in a 35-14 loss to Penn State.

"We've got to make up for the embarrassment that happened at Penn State last year because we just got smoked," UW right tackle Eric Vandenheuvel said. "They had a great team last year, but we still have to show them the roles have flipped. They're coming into our house, and we have to show them what we're made of."


The No. 17 Badgers (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) and Nittany Lions (6-3, 4-2) may not be playing for the Big Ten championship and a trip to a BCS bowl, but the stakes are still high in a battle for third place in the league.

Wide receiver Paul Hubbard said the team is taking it somewhat personally that even with just one loss into November, people still leave UW out of the "Big Three" — No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Michigan and unranked Penn State — when talking about the conference's perennial powers.

"We've got a chip on our shoulder," Hubbard said. "People … really don't look at us as one of those big powerhouses. Maybe our record is going to say something different this year.

"We're going to bring the A-game that we've had in the games when we were starting out fast, and we just kept finishing."

The Badgers have won five straight, but stumbled into the marquee matchup after having to overcome a 24-10 halftime deficit against lowly Illinois last weekend.

"It was kind of a humbling thing," Vandenheuvel said. "We've been on a roll, beating everybody by a lot of points, these guys really gave us a fight, and I think at halftime we looked back at what we did and we said, 'We've got to pump things up and win this game.'

"It exposed the character of the team — that we don't give up, we don't accept failure."

Luckily for Wisconsin, freshman phenom P.J. Hill is expected to start Saturday after being knocked out of the Illinois game. Even after a season-low 50 yards on the ground against the Illini, Hill still ranks among the nation's elite with 1,222 rushing yards, third-best in the country.

The trio of UW running backs — Hill, Dywon Rowan and Lance Smith — face a stingy rush defense that allows just 95.2 ground yards per game, 20 yards less than Wisconsin's much-heralded defense. Wisconsin's 2005 star player, Brian Calhoun, garnered just 38 yards on 20 carries against PSU.

Last year, UW quarterback John Stocco was sacked nine times, as PSU's Hali led that charge by getting to Stocco four times. But with three new faces on the Penn State D-line and no Hali, Stocco could have an easier time settling into the pocket.

On the other hand, then-Lion quarterback Robinson lit up the Wisconsin defense with 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as 16 carries for 125 yards on the ground. Overall, the Badgers allowed 282 rushing yards (while gaining 11 yards on offense) in the embarrassing defeat.

"It's hard to watch that film," linebacker Mark Zalewski said. "It is a [very] different team. They had a quarterback who could really get some things done with his feet. He was a great player, but this [PSU] team has a lot of great players. We just have to go out and play well against them."

Robinson is replaced by Anthony Morelli, who more closely resembles a pocket passer than his predecessor.

"He's got a stronger arm, he throws a great deep ball, and he can really beat you that way," Zalewski said. "We just have to be ready for that."

Morelli's go-to option is wideout Deon Butler, who caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Robinson just 98 seconds into last year's UW-PSU game to start the offensive onslaught for the Lions.

"They're going to be one of the best corps of wide receivers we've seen this year," cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said. "They really like to stretch the field vertically, so we've got to be on our cues. Keep everything in front of us, and I think we'll be fine."

It will be on each and every player in Wisconsin's locker room, says Ikegwuonu, to remember last year's painful defeat and do everything possible to turn the tables Saturday, to exact revenge and take a strong hold on the Big Ten's third spot.

"Everybody's got to take it personal. Walking off that field last year, the feeling I had, I don't want to have that feeling again," Ikegwuonu said.

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