MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin offensive lineman John Moffitt lets out a little sigh when he tries to explain what he saw on the sidelines two years ago when he watched quarterback Steven Threet.
Even now, most of the Badgers would prefer to forget.
Wisconsin led Michigan 19-0 at halftime and 19-7 heading into the fourth quarter in 2008. Threet, then at the helm of the Wolverines, rallied Michigan to a 27-25 victory that sent Wisconsin into a season-long funk.
Threet gets another shot on Saturday, this time when his Sun Devils (2-0) visit No. 11 Wisconsin (2-0) on Saturday.
"I remember him making some key drives," Moffitt said. "In the fourth quarter, they just really capitalized, going right down the field running the spread."
The Badgers have cued up game tapes of Threet in maize and blue, and while Arizona State's personnel is different, Wisconsin wants to avoid a Threet repeat.
"We put it on there just to remind guys of what he's capable of doing because to this point some of the things he's done at Arizona State are quite a bit different from what he was doing at Michigan," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "You want to just put that into perspective for them, it's a totally different scheme and he's a different player now."
That game remains a bitter memory for Wisconsin.
"It's tough to watch," Moffitt said.
Threet's numbers weren't particularly good in that game — he went 12 of 31 for 96 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for 89 yards, including a 58-yarder in the fourth quarter as the momentum shifted to the Wolverines.
"I remember all of it," Threet said.
He should. The Adrian, Mich., native earned his first Big Ten win and looked to have a bright future.
But it didn't become the hoped-for turning point in Rich Rodriguez's first year at the helm.
Threet never won another game at Michigan, which went 1-7 the rest of the way and finished with a 3-9 thud. Threet was gone at the end of the year, landing at Arizona State and sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer requirements.
Wisconsin flopped in 2008, too, finishing 7-6 and raising questions of whether Barry Alvarez had picked the right coach to replace him when he became athletics director.
Since then, Bielema has quieted critics with a 10-3 campaign last year and high expectations this season.
Neither Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson nor Bielema can recall a situation where the opposing quarterback matched up with one of their teams after previously leading another squad. Arizona State runs a high-tempo spread offense with Threet that's not quite like Michigan's attack.
"He obviously knows how to win games. He knows how to come from behind and win games, which is dangerous," Moffitt said. "Our defense is going to respect him and be prepared. I have no doubts with how our defense prepares for a guy like that."
Threet said he's excited to return to a Big Ten stadium. In his first two games at Arizona State, he's thrown for 630 yards and completed 67 percent of his passes in a pair of wins over FCS opponents.
"Since the day he got here, his attitude has been unbelievable. He's been a leader on this team even when he was on the scout team," Erickson said. "We like where he's at, he's our quarterback and we're trying to do things that best fit him in our offense. He'll get better and better as the year goes on."
And Threet has some big game experience already in his career — capped by one wild comeback.
"It's better to be 1-0 than 0-1 against somebody," he said. "Hopefully we're not down 19-0 (like) that situation, but there's always going to be ups and downs in every football game."