September 09, 2007

It's A Win

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- It must be something to do with being a Big Ten team and having the No. 5 national ranking stuck before your name.

For the second straight week, a Big Ten team struggled with that label, but unlike Michigan last week against Appalachian State, Wisconsin was able to take care of business at UNLV when it counted, pulling out an ugly 20-13 victory.

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Badgers Survive

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Credit the Wisconsin defense for coming up with two tremendous sacks on the final drive that set up 4th and 16. Dixon's pass fell incomplete from his own 25, and the Badgers were then able to run out the clock.

The final score from Las Vegas, Wisconsin 20 and UNLV 13. I'll be back with a recap in a bit.

Running For Dear Life

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Former Wisconsin QB John Stocco couldn't have done what current Wisconsin QB Tyler Donovan did. On a 1st and 15 from the UNLV 29, Donovan rolled out to the left, with everyone to the right, leaving only one man to beat.

Donovan scampered 29 yards to the corner of the endzone where he was pushed out of bounds by Mil'Von James, but Donovan was asble to get the ball over the pylon as he was in midair with 1:53 left in the game to give the Badgers an 18-13 lead, after an official review of the play which confirmed the call on the field.

The Badgers then went for two, with Donovan rolling out to the right this time, finding WR Luke Swan in the endzone for the two-point conversion that gives the Badgers a 20-13 lead. An outstanding, methodical 10 play, 61 yards, 5:40 second drive, when the Badgers needed it the most.

One last drive for the Runnin' Rebels and they start at their own 14 yard line.

Badgers Driving

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- On 4th and 1 from the UNLV 37, P.J. Hill went straight ahead for two yards to keep the drive alive, with four minutes remaining in the game and trailing 13-12. It must be something about Big Ten teams ranked No. 5 in the nation? (Michigan last week)

Just before that, the Badgers had to complete a third down conversion. But Hill is trying to carry this team on his back.

Donovan hands off to Hill has become the recipe for the drive, and a good one at that, as he has gained five yards nearly each carry. With the Badgers at the UNLV 29, they were charged with a delay of game, pushing them back to the 29, with just over 2 minutes left.

In field goal range.

UNLV Right Back

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Most of the time when you hear,"Right Back" in Las Vegas, it is at the craps table. But tonight, it's with UNLV coming right back with a field goal to match Wisconsin's only minutes before.

Travis Dixon drove the Rebels down the field, and set up a Sergio Aguayo field goal of 35 yards to give the Rebels a 13-12 lead.

It's starting to get serious here in the desert.

Badgers Take The Lead

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Wisconsin just can't get ANYTHING going on offense here in the second half. The UNLV defense is swarming, giving Donovan no time, and when he does get off a pass, his receiver either drops it or they are hit so hard, the ball pops loose.

But the Wisconsin defense came up with a huge play. DB Shane Carter picked off the Travis Dixon pass and returned it 35 yards to the UNLV 39 yard line with under 13 minutes to play in the game.

On 3rd and four, guess what? ANOTHER dropped pass, it was well short of a first down, but Kyle Jefferson had the ball go off his finger tips as he was hit very, very hard. So was Tyler Donovan.

So then the Badgers lined up for a 51 yard field goal, Taylor Mehlhaff drilled it to give Wisconsin a 12-10 lead with 12:22 to play. His career-long is 52, coming last season against Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl.

Kiss Of Death

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- The UNLV student section just started the "Overrated" chant. So if Wisconsin comes back to win this game, Rebels fans can send their complaints directly to them.

It's always the kiss of death to chant that, especially with 6 minutes left in the third quarter, up only one point. Head-scratching.

The UNLV defense continues to swarm. After a huge fourth down stop on P.J. Hill before the go-ahead field goal, they just stopped the Badgers three-and-out deep in Wisconsin's own territory, with a big sack from LB Beau Bell, who shot around the edge and took down Tyler Donovan.

Quite honestly, the Badgers look completely uninspired, with no one stepping up to make a big play at the moment.

September 08, 2007

Bombs Away

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- UNLV QB Travis Dixon is keeping this thing interesting. He bombed one down the right sideline for 35 yards to WR Casey Flair to the Wisconsin 35. A nice rush by David Peeples set the Rebels up for a 25 yard field goal that gives UNLV a 10-9 lead with 7:16 remaining in the third quarter.

The 38,250 people in attendance are making a lot of noise, with the Rebel fans making a lot of noise, and the Wisconsin side, eerily silent. The attendance is the third largest home crowd in UNLV history, and is the fourth sellout, with all four coming against Wisconsin.

I told you the Badgers travel well. Now they just have to make those fans happy.

Nine Is Deceiving

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Sometimes a number can be deceiving. Star RB P.J. Hill wears No. 39, and after he carried on the Badgers' first play from scrimmage at their own 10 yard line, a pile formed, and under it was a player with a No. 9 on his jersey down hurt. Somehow, WR Paul Hubbard was down, he's No. 19.

An injury timeout ensued and he limped off with the help of two trainers favoring his right leg. That's certainly not good news for the Badgers' offense. Hubbard, a fifth year senior from Colorado, is one of the offense's big guns.

It was just announced that Hubbard is done for the night with a right knee injury. Tape It Up will keep you posted on his injury throughout the week. It didn't look too good though.

An Ugly Half

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Luke Swan dropped a bullet pass from Donovan down at the goalline on 1st and 10 from the UNLV 15 with 21 seconds to go in the half. It was AT LEAST the third dropped pass of the half by Badgers' receivers. On 3rd and 5 from the 10, with five seconds left in the half, Donovan overthrew his receiver in the back of the endzone.

It brought up a 27 yard field goal by Taylor Mehlhaff as time expired in the half, which gave Wisconsin the lead 9-7, even though they didn't play like the fifth best team in the nation, and certainly didn't deserve the lead.

The Wisconsin offense did wake up with that last drive, with a 14 play, 81 yard drive to pick up the three points and take a lead into halftime. The Bret Bielema halftime speech will most likely not be aired on Versus, it wouldn't meet FCC regulations.

Continue reading "An Ugly Half" »

Go For Three

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- An interesting couple of possessions by both teams. UNLV RB Robert Paulele 34 yard reception on 3rd down to the 27 yard line.

But a huge play by the Wisconsin defense, on 4th down from the Wisconsin 20 yard line, Wisconsin's Elijah Hodge came up with a big stop, dropping UNLV QB Travis Dixon for a loss of one, and handing the ball back over to the Badgers in their own territory.

Why not go for a field goal?

Sergio Aguayo is a senior kicker for the Rebels and went 3-for-3 last week against Utah State with a long of 48 yards. Very interesting to not kick there, as it would have been about a 37 yarder.

But it worked, as Paul Hubbard dropped a Tyler Donovan pass on 3rd and 4 from the 25 forcing the Badgers to punt. I'd still have taken the points, but I understand the logic when you're going up against the No. 5 team in the country.

UNLV got the ball back, got back into Badgers territory with a couple of nice WR screen passes to Casey Flair, but had to punt. Unfortunately, the UNLV punter, Brian Pacheco couldn't Coffin Corner it, and Luke Swan was able to return it back to about the 45. Wisconsin's Prince Moody committed a special teams cardinal sin, with an obvious block in the back that put the Badgers back to their own 8 yard line.

Another heavy underdog is hanging around, in a big way here with under five minutes to play in the first half, with the Rebels still leading the Badgers, 7-6.

Bielema's Jacket

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Chants of "Let's Go Rebels" have drowned out the obnoxious amount of Wisconsin fans in attendance. One note, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema must be trying to make weight. HE'S WEARING A WINDBREAKER. EARTH TO COACH BIELEMA, IT'S 100 DEGREES OUT!!!

Word is, some Badgers fans bought UNLV season tickets just to get into this game, after UNLV stopped selling individual tickets. It's a pretty smart idea. Considering the tickets were around 100 or so for the season, and many people in attendance paid 100 bucks per seat.

P. J. Hill took over on Wisconsin's next possession, reeling off some big runs to finish the first quarter with 57 yards on six carries with a long of 20.

Tyler Donovan then completed a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Graham who made a nice one handed grab on the play-action pass. The ensuing extra point was botched, when holder Ken Debauche mishandled the snap, and when he stood up with the ball, he got hit very, very hard.

With 14:55 remaining in the second quarter, we have a 7-6 ballgame, in favor of UNLV.

The Travis Dixon Show

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-The Rebels certainly run an interesting offense. Nearly every snap, UNLV QB Travis Dixon rolls one way or the other, leaving it easier for him to rush, and he can fire on the run too. I mentioned before that the Badgers may have trouble with him, and on the Rebels second drive, they did.

Dixon on 3rd and 2 at midfield, completed an 18 yard pass down the sideline to Rodelin Anthony who stepped out of bounds, otherwise he was gone down the sideline for six.

Dixon then continued to show why he's a dual threat, rushing for seven yards down to the 23 yard line.

And then he completed a 21 yard pass down to the 6 yard line (after a false start penalty). And then he rushed for two yards, setting up 3rd and goal from the 5. He then threw a gorgeous pass to the corner of the endzone to Casey Flair for the touchdown. His first passing TD of his collegiate career.

The thing is, he is getting hit ferociously every play. How long can he take such a beating in 98 degree heat? We'll see. With 3:13 left in the first quarter, it's 7-0 UNLV after a 14-play, 80-yard drive.

Three And Outs

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- We got off to an interesting start here when the ball fell off the tee twice on the opening kickoff for Badgers kicker Taylor Mehlhaff kicked the ball threw the open endzone for a touchback, with the help of wide receiver Brian McCulliss holding the ball for him.

On the play, UNLV's K.C. Asiodu committed a personal foul to drop the Rebels back to the 10 yard-line. Someone in the pressbox said,"Are they trying to break the record for the number of personal fouls in a season?"

That's not the way to beat the No. 5 team in the country.

on the second play from scrimmage, the Rebels fumbled a handoff but was covered up, and after the first series, the Rebels went three-and-out after gaining two yards.

But the Rebels defense was able to bend, but not break on its first appearance of the night. Wisconsin had to punt on its first drive as well, after picking up a first down and getting into UNLV territory thanks to P.J. Hill picking up 17 yards on the ground, but a holding penalty on tight end Garrett Graham negated a P.J. Hill first down run on 3rd and 4. Punter Ken Debauche then punted into the endzone for a touchback.

Wisconsin QB Tyler Donovan had all the time in the world it seemed to complete a couple of passes, but just missed Graham in the endzone on a post route down the middle of the field. We could definitely see that connection later in the game.

Five minutes gone by in this one, no score.

It's 100 Degrees

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- For one weekend every few years, Las Vegas becomes Madison, Wisc. of the west. And this weekend, that is certainly the case.

Stroll along the famous Las Vegas strip, and all you see is red. Red hats, red t-shirts, red beads, red facepaint. Ever since arriving on Thursday night, it's the only thing there is, in every hotel, every casino, every pool. Wisconsin fans have invaded Las Vegas.

They like to pride themselves in being one of the best traveling parties in the nation, and by my account, they have to be right up there in that category.

Tonight, No. 5 Wisconsin (1-0) takes on UNLV (1-0) at Sam Boyd Stadium in beautiful Las Vegas.

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