Whoever says confidence and home field advantage wasn’t important has never been to Wisconsin. There are a few places that take certain sports very seriously; Kentucky and Indiana love their basketball, Texas more of a football state. Put Wisconsin and “Title Town” Green Bay up there with the love of football and the whole state is in on it. Don’t take my word for it, just ask LSU.
40, 000 tickets where given to the Badger faithful; 20, 000 to LSU and 20, 000 to spectators. Conspiracy? I don’t think so. It’s home state advantage, and the Badgers took advantage of the energy inside of Lambeau Field when they knocked off #5 LSU.
The Badgers didn’t do it with overwhelming offense that trounced up and down the field with big yards. It was the other way around. Their defense gave LSU a sense of déjà vu of the Alabama game from last year, putting a tight hold on the Tigers star running back. Leonard Fournette was held to just 35 yards in the first half, which frustrated the operation of the Tiger offense.
Wisconsin had a simple plan, play keep away from the LSU offense which will keep Fournette on the sideline. Everything was going to plan in the first half. The Tigers had 180 total yards on 18 offensive plays with a time of possession of just over eight minutes, while the Badgers more than doubled that. But since Wisconsin was starting an inexperienced quarterback; the Badgers could only take a six point lead in the locker room.
The turnovers by the Badgers are what made the game closer than it really appeared. In a span of about a minute, the Tigers created two turnovers that resulted in two touchdowns that gave them the lead. Deep in his own end of the field, Wisconsin quarterback Bart Houston, who was continuously playing with fire, challenged LSU’s best corner Tre’Davious White, and finally got burned when White pick off a pass and returned it for a touchdown. On the ensuing possession, Wisconsin receiver George Rushing caught the third down pass from Houston for a first down and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by White in Badger territory. A wheel route pass from Brandon Harris to Fournette down the sideline put the Tigers in striking distance inside the 10-yard line. A pass to Travin Dural for a touchdown capped the drive.
Fournette refused to be bottled up for 60 minutes, he was finally able to find some openings in the defense and managed to get over 100 yards rushing. However, each time the Tigers looked like that they were going to sustain a drive, the Badgers would get a stop. T.J. Watt; yes little brother of NFL All-Pro J.J. Watt led the way with 7 tackles in the game.
Wisconsin was able to get a field goal by Rafael Gagilanone to get the lead back 16-14 late in the fourth quarter.
The knock on Brandon Harris has been his decision making, no one has ever questioned his ability. Driving down the field just outside of field goal range, Harris did what he has been criticized for, which is pressing or not showing any poise. He was able to elude the defense and make what appeared to be a simple throw to the outside. Only Harris threw the pass way too far inside, right into the arms of D’Cota Dixon to ice the game and upset the LSU Tigers.
If Les Miles thought he was on a hot seat down in Baton Rouge, it should be boiling now.