Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Most thrilling Wisconsin upsets since 2010

Spotlighting unpredictable finishes going Badgers’ way
Most thrilling Wisconsin upsets since 2010
Spencer Shapiro

The highs of victory and the lows of defeat define being a sports fan. No high, however, feels quite like an upset when your team wins a game no one expected them to have a chance in. Thankfully, in recent years, the University of Wisconsin has had quite a few thrilling upset victories fans still rave about. Here are five of the most notable.

2010 Football: No. 18 Wisconsin upsets No. 1 Ohio State 31–18

The 2010 football team started the season with a respectable 5-1 record and a No. 18 rank heading into their week seven matchup.


This matchup was a doozy — UW hosted the No. 1 team in the country, Ohio State. The Buckeyes, led by star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, had national championship aspirations. They entered the matchup 6-0, having dominated their opponents by an average of nearly 30 points per game.

A game in Camp Randall Stadium is never easy for any opponents — a fact the Buckeyes found out on the very first play. In arguably the most exciting moment in Wisconsin football history, senior receiver David Gilreath started the game with a bang — returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. This play set the tone for the Badgers, who never looked back.

Junior tailback John Clay led the Badgers’ offense, rushing for 104 yards on the night, including two first-half touchdowns, which helped the Badgers race out to a 21–0 lead. Freshman running back James White complemented Clay, adding 75 yards and a touchdown of his own. Senior quarterback Scott Tolzien consistently moved the ball when called upon, going 13-for-16 passing for 152 yards and one interception.

The game’s story was the Badgers’ stout defense, which held the Buckeyes high-flying offense to just 18 points. Junior defensive end J.J. Watt was the star of the day with two sacks and a tackle-for-loss, cementing his status as a first-round NFL draft prospect. Safety Blake Sorensen sealed the game with a red zone interception as the Badgers knocked off a number-one ranked opponent for the first time since 1981.

Despite shortcomings in Pullman, Badgers remain focused, optimistic

2017 Men’s Soccer: Wisconsin topples undefeated No. 2 Indiana in the Big Ten Soccer Championship

The Wisconsin 2017 Big Ten soccer championship victory over Indiana may be the least famous upset on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

UW has struggled at times within its soccer program in comparison to some of their Big Ten foes. In summary, the men’s team has made seven NCAA tournaments, winning one Big Ten tournament and one improbable national championship in 1995.

Indiana, on the other hand, is a true blue blood. They have made the NCAA Tournament 47 times, won 13 Big Ten tournaments and eight national championships.

In 2017, the Hoosiers finished the regular season undefeated, with 13 wins and four ties. They were ranked No. 2 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Badgers, meanwhile, finished the Big Ten regular season ranked fifth in the conference.

But, in a winner-take-all title game, anything can happen. In this particular matchup, goalkeeper Philipp Schilling delivered a heroic performance. Schilling made eight saves throughout regulation and overtime to keep the Badgers alive. His efforts continued into the shootout, where he stopped two penalties and scored one himself to secure victory for the Badgers.

Wisconsin coach John Trask summed up the performance in an interview with UW Athletics.

“Phil is as good of a goalkeeper as there is in the country, and he proved that today,” Trask said. “No group of Wisconsin players have ever hoisted the trophy, so just a huge congratulations to our guys.”

2021 Women’s Volleyball: Wisconsin defeats undefeated No. 1 Louisville in NCAA Semifinal

The 2021 Wisconsin volleyball team is undoubtedly one of the most electric teams in school history, regardless of the sport. Led by four-time All-American Dana Rettke, the team won Wisconsin’s first volleyball national championship Dec. 18 when they defeated Nebraska in five sets. But, their season’s most impressive result came two days earlier against Louisville.

The Cardinals entered the Final Four undefeated, a perfect 32-0. They had a star-studded roster headlined by two first-team All-Americans, setter Tori Dilfer and middle blocker Anna Stevenson. The representatives from the Atlantic Coast Conference looked unstoppable all tournament, only dropping one set through the first four games.

The unflappable Badgers did not buy into the Louisville hype, starting the match with a close 25–23 first-set victory. But, the Cardinals quickly bounced back with a 25–15 second set thrashing.

The Badgers won the third set 25–21 behind seven kills from freshman Anna Smrek. Smrek had the game of her life with an absurd 20 kills and an extremely high .704 hitting percentage.

The resilient Cardinals battled back again in the fourth set, taking it 25–23, setting up a winner-take-all all-fifth set to 15 points.

The teams traded blows early in the fifth set, splitting the first ten points 5–5. The Badgers then began to pull away. Two kills by Devyn Robinson, a kill by Julia Orzol and an error by Anna DeBeer padded the Badgers’ lead to 9–6.

Wisconsin stayed hot, winning five of the next eight points to set up match point. A Louisville kill delayed proceedings, but a poetic Smrek kill sealed the deal for the Badgers. For the second time in seven years (more on that later), Wisconsin had defeated an undefeated team from Kentucky to advance to the national championship game.

Women’s golf: Wisconsin earns second place in annual home invitational

2023 Women’s Hockey: Wisconsin conquers No. 1 Ohio State in the National Championship

Arguably the most successful athletics program at Wisconsin is the women’s hockey team. Their seven national championships are the most of any sport at UW, and this one stands out from the rest for one main reason — they were major underdogs.

A strong opening two rounds and a nail-biting overtime win against Minnesota secured the Badgers’ spot in the national championship game, their opponents, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes were the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and also won three of the four regular-season matchups against the Badgers — including a 5–0 blowout.

The game itself was close throughout. Standout freshman Kirsten Simms fired home the game’s lone goal in the first period. Senior goalkeeper Cami Kronish led Wisconsin’s fierce defense the rest of the way, stopping all 31 shots she faced in her final collegiate game.

Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson lauded Kronish’s performance in his postgame remarks.

“I’m just really happy for Cami,” Johnson said. “When she got on the big stage she showed everybody that through hard work and determination, and waiting for an opportunity, good things can happen.”

Not only was this an improbable title for the Badgers, but this victory broke a tie with Minnesota for the most national championships, cementing the UW’s spot as the country’s premier women’s hockey program.

UW intramurals offer opportunity for unique athletic experiences

2015 Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin stuns undefeated No. 1 Kentucky in NCAA Tournament

If you asked 100 Badger fans to choose one game they could relive, the majority would likely choose the 2015 Final Four against Kentucky.

The Wildcats entered the game 38–0 and were considered shoo-ins to complete the first perfect college basketball season since 1976. Boasting future NBA stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker, alongside lottery picks Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles, Kentucky was truly a force to be reckoned with.

The Badgers were no slouches themselves. Led by the national player of the year Frank Kaminsky and future first-round pick Sam Dekker, Wisconsin entered the game with an overall record of 35–3. The Badgers also had some extra motivation, having lost to Kentucky in the Final Four the previous season.

The Badgers started the game on the front foot, jumping to a 23–16 lead. Kentucky, however, pulled themselves back into the game and knotted up the score by halftime. Wisconsin led 56–52 midway in the second half when the Wildcats finally made their push.

Kentucky rattled off eight straight points to take a four-point lead with under five minutes to play. The Badgers’ historically potent offense went seven minutes without a field goal. The game looked like it was slipping away from the Badgers — until Dekker provided a spark.

First, Dekker made a tough driving layup to end the Badgers’ scoreless streak. After forward Nigel Hayes putback tied the game at 60, Dekker struck again. This time, the Wisconsin native hit a stepback three over future first-overall pick Towns, giving the Badgers the lead. Dekker immediately followed that up by taking a charge on the defensive end.

Wisconsin never relinquished the lead, hitting their free throws to put the finishing touches on an improbable 71–64 victory. “On Wisconsin” blared throughout the stadium as the Badgers advanced to the National Championship, while Kentucky’s dream season ended in a 38–1 nightmare.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *