P.J. Hill and Wisconsin spoiled the biggest game in Bulldog Stadium history. Hill ran for 112 yards and Allan Evridge threw a touchdown pass before leaving with an injury to help the 10th-ranked Badgers beat No. 21 Fresno State 13-10 on Saturday night.
The much-hyped contest was the physical, tight game that both teams expected. The Badgers ended up on top because they capitalized on key special-teams plays while the Bulldogs didn't.
Wisconsin (3-0) scored its only points of the second half on a 23-yard field goal by Philip Welch after a fumbled punt by A.J. Jefferson. That proved to be just enough to win because Kevin Goessling missed three field goals, including a 35-yarder in the fourth quarter and a 51-yarder after a blocked punt in the third.
Fresno State (1-1) appeared to have another good chance after Robert Malone's punt was downed inside the 1 with 1:55 to go. But backup quarterback Dustin Scherer ran for 2 yards on first down and fullback Bill Rentmeester followed with an 8-yard run, carrying Fresno State defenders on his way to a first down that let Wisconsin just run out the clock.
Wisconsin heads into the Big Ten season undefeated and with the best hopes of any conference team of making it into the BCS title game following No. 5 Ohio State's 35-3 loss to No. 1 Southern California earlier in the night.
The loss brought an early end to Fresno State's hopes of following the path set by WAC rivals Boise State and Hawaii the past two years of going to a BCS bowl.
Evridge left the game midway through the fourth quarter with an undisclosed leg injury. But he had done enough to help the Badgers win by that point, throwing a 2-yard TD pass to Garrett Graham in the first quarter. Evridge finished 13-for-27 for 163 yards.
Tom Brandstater was 15-for-27 for 225 yards, a touchdown and an interception but was stopped by the Wisconsin defense when the Bulldogs needed him most.
After throwing a 47-yard TD pass to Devon Wylie early in the third quarter to cut Wisconsin's lead to 10-7, Brandstater was unable to get the Bulldogs back into the end zone.
They couldn't convert after Desia Dunn's blocked punt. Then after a 61-yard screen pass to Ryan Mathews gave the Bulldogs a first-and-goal from the 9, O'Brien Schofield sacked Brandstater to help force a field goal that cut it to 13-10.
Lonyae Miler's 57-yard run to the 25 put Fresno State in position to score, but Wisconsin didn't allow the Bulldogs another first down and Goessling's missed field goal kept the Badgers on top.
Fresno State's final drive stalled when Brandstater was sacked by DeAndre Levy on third-and-10 from the Wisconsin 47 with about 2:30 to go, forcing a punt.
Wisconsin didn't generate much offensively in the second half but got what it needed when a short punt bounced off Jefferson as he was waving his teammates away. That gave the Badgers the ball at the Fresno State 23, leading to Welch's short field goal.
Wisconsin appeared to be in position to get another score when Levy recovered a fumble by Wylie at the Fresno State 26. But the call was overturned on a replay review and the Bulldogs used a 61-yard screen pass to Ryan Mathews to set up a 33-yard field goal by Goessling that made it 13-10 in the final seconds of the third quarter.
An early goal-line stand by Fresno State fired up the crowd even more as Ben Jacobs and Jefferson teamed to stuff Hill at the 1 on fourth down.
The celebration was short-lived, however, as Matt Shaughnessy batted a pass by Brandstater high enough in the air for Levy to intercept it at the Fresno State 26. Three plays later, Evridge connected with Garrett Graham on a 2-yard score that made it 7-0.
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