Badgers/Volunteers Live Blog

Hey, for those of you who may have missed it, here’s my live blog from Tuesday’s Outback Bowl:

Badgers Fall to Tennessee 21-17
First Half Volunteer Offensive Onslaught Too Much For Badgers To Overcome


TAMPA, Fla. — 1:34 p.m. Happy New Year. Hope the rest of your day improves after watching Wisconsin lose close game.

1:33 p.m. Very entertaining game. Donovan played well but would love to have that last throw back. Defense played well in the second half, but gave up too many big pass plays early on. Hill did his job. Beckum non-factor, which was huge. Fourth down call will loom large as Wisconsin attempts to get over loss.

1:32 p.m. DONOVAN IS INTERCEPTED AS HE ATTEMPTS TO GET TO HUBBARD NEAR END ZONE. Not good throw. That’s going to do it.

1:31 p.m. Big completion to Beckum, only his second. Tennessee called for enroachment. Play getting sloppy as we near the end.

1:29 p.m. Wisconsin probably will benefit here no matter what. Can set up next few plays . . . They gave Graham first down. That seems questionable. But the Badgers will take it.

1:27 p.m. Confusion here about the clock. Clock stopped even though Graham did not get first down. Let’s see here . . .

1:27 p.m. Graham again for two straight completions. :45 seconds left.

1:25 p.m. Incomplete to Beckum. Third down already. Donovan’s down to only 11 out of 20.

1:24 p.m. Badgers will take it at their 12 yard line. Short pass to Kyle Jefferson. Volunteers will give us that all day.

1:23 p.m. Make that no time outs. Wisconsin just used their last one.

1:22 p.m. Foster stopped short of the first down. Badgers will get the ball back with not much time and only one timeout.

1:19 p.m. Big stop on second down. 3rd and fifteen. Tennessee runs clock down to 1:38. Even if Wisconsin gets ball back, which they probably will, don’t like their chances to get touchdown in such little time. Again, have to go back to that fourth down call as the pivotal play of the game. Defense has done their part in second half, holding Volunteers scoreless after giving up 21 points in first twenty minutes.

1:18 p.m. Michigan and Florida tied up now at 14. Tennessee letting that clock run down. Not looking good.

1:17 p.m. Don’t understand what’s taking so long — Tennessee retains possession. Unfortunately, the right decision.

1:15 p.m. Bielema’s going to have to answer some questions about that play call on fourth down and even the decision to go for it will undoubtedly be questioned. I have no problem with the decision to go for it, but the call was terrible.

1:15 p.m. Can I get Outback food delivered if I’m doing one of those Covance studies?

1:11 p.m. Those screen passes have been working all day . . . Hey, Tennessee fumbled! BADGERS FOOTBALL! Wait, officials are conferring . . . I don’t know. Looks like Badgers did not get possession in bounds. This is a huge decision. Don’t have a good feeling about it. We’ll find out after these words from Outback Steakhouse.

1:09 p.m. Big screen play conversion on third down for Volunteers. Time becoming a factor now for Badgers. Only five minutes left.

1:07 p.m. That play was huge blunder by Badgers. Could cost them the game if Tennessee takes momentum and gets a score here.

1:05 p.m. Travis Beckum gets his first catch. Odd that he didn’t get it beyond the sticks. Badgers go for it here. Disaster. Donovan on rollout and then threw it away. Why not run Hill or Brown? What’s with the trickery? Lousy.

1:04 p.m. Two straight stuffs on Lance Smith. Now it’s third and 11. Ouch.

1:03 p.m. 50 yard run for Hill! He’s got 134 yards now!

1:01 p.m. Hill running hard. He’ll get over 100 yards before the game is over. Brown and Smith haven’t really been much of a factor. Nor has Beckum. Hill is going all the way . . . . He’s down to the 18 yard line!

1 p.m. I can’t believe Charter took Game Show Network off of the analog tier. Can we get the the legislature involved in that?

12:58 p.m. That’s going to take the wind out of the Volunteers’ sails. Just like the WGA writers’ strike has taken the wind out of my sails. But hey, Letterman returns tomorrow night! That’s great news to start the new year with.

12:56 p.m. BADGERS BLOCK THE FIELD GOAL! HODGE REJECTS IT! Nice! Volunteers get nothing out of that long drive! Just like that, Badgers get momentum back. Huge play!

12:55 p.m. Great stop for Casillas on Jones. Another third down, which Tennessee has been completing with ease this entire drive. And why is Jones playing quarterback? What’s with Ainge? Wisconsin drops them on third down.

12:54 p.m. Wisconsin blitzes are not working. Completion to Jones for first down. Now the Volunteers are down on the 15 yard line.

12:52 p.m. Incompletion for Ainge on third down. Might go for it here on fourth and 3. Have to stop them . . .

12:51 p.m. Wisconsin had a great blitz there but Tennessee picked it up beautifully. Huge completion to Moore. All of a sudden the Volunteers are back in a rhythm, which Wisconsin had gotten them out of for a long time.

12:50 p.m. Big third down coming up here. Oh, and Florida has tied up Michigan 7-7.

12:48 p.m. Time to jump around! Eh, Briscoe gets a huge completion for 21 yards, in one play getting more yards than they did that entire third quarter.

12:45 p.m. Hardesty drops handoff and falls on it. Volunteers looking sloppy and just waiting to be put away in this fourth quarter. Volunteers did absolutely nothing in that third quarter, gaining only 12 yards.

12:44 p.m. Briscoe drops easy pass. All of a sudden Ainge’s completion percentage has dropped to nearly fifty percent.

12:43 p.m. Volunteers take the kickoff for a touchback.

12:41 p.m. Illegal formation. Mehlhaff in for field goal. He’s got it. Badgers close to within 21-17.

12:40 p.m. Smith does not pick up third down, but there is a flag. Let’s see . . .

12:39 p.m. Hill again. Badgers really dominating this third quarter in terms of yardage and TOP. Have to finish it with a score though. They are up 26 minutes to 17 minutes in TOP now.

12:38 p.m. Gerrit Graham for a third down conversion. That’s his fifth catch.

12:37 p.m. Badgers have now more than doubled up the Volunteers in yards gained on the ground.

12:36 p.m. Donovan runs for seven yards. Badgers doing a better job protecting him in this half. And there goes Hill again for a first down. Badgers on 29-yard-line already.

12:35 p.m. Hill goes for 17 yards. Nice.

12:33 p.m. Michigan’s up on Florida. Why is it that it’s OK to root for Big Ten in bowl games but not root for NFC North teams when it has no impact on Packers?

12:32 p.m. No runback at all that time. Wisconsin’s offense has to match intensity of its defense here. And Jefferson has to stop dropping passes.

12:31 p.m. No turnover, but three and out and Wisconsin should get the ball in very good position.

12:31 p.m. Wisconsin’s defense is playing much more aggressively now. Happy to see it, but wish they had started the game this way . . .

12:30 p.m. Strickland downs the punt at the one. Here’s a great place to have a turnover . . .

12:29 p.m. Argh! Jefferson just dropped a perfect pass! Have to make that play on third down!

12:28 p.m. Jefferson just dropped a pass. Not good. Third down already. Still waiting to hear
from Travis Beckum.

12:26 p.m. Hey there’s Lance Smith! Forgot about him! 11 yard pick-up!

12:24 p.m. So I hope everybody had a great New Year’s Eve and partied safe. The wife and I stayed home with our six-month-old daughter and watched some shows we had on our TiVo. Yeah, I know, we’re boring.

12:23 p.m. Another big return for Gilreath. He is making a big difference in this game. 24 yard return. Badgers will get the ball on their 46. Have to take advantage of this field position.

12:22 p.m. Terrific pressure on Ainge. And the Volunteers will have to punt again. Both defenses dominating game now.

12:20 p.m.Strickland great tackle on second down. Third and seven . . . Eh, complete to Rogers. Looks like Casillas wanted the interception, but he was embarrasingly late on the ball.

12:19 p.m. Another great stop on Foster. Looks like defense got a talking to at the half. Playing much better now.

12:17 p.m. I’m sort of looking forward to that Sugar Bowl game tonight. Haven’t had much opportunity to see Colt Brennan for myself. But what happened to June Jones? He looks older than Phyllis Diller.

12:15 p.m. Pass knocked down. Not what we needed there. Can’t let Tennessee get into offensive groove.

12:14 p.m. Donovan comes close to first down with rush. Tennessee comes close to getting hit out of bounds there. Second and two.

12:11 p.m. OK, Wisconsin will have the ball here with decent field position. Good time to get Travis Beckum the ball. But Hill’s getting a solid 5 yards a carry, so we can ride that horse for a while here too.

12:10 p.m. Great defensive series for the Badgers. Three and out. Exactly what was needed.

12:09 p.m. Great pressure on Ainge which led to incompletion. Third down and 16.

12:08 p.m. Big stop for a loss on Foster. Very nice. Let’s hope Wisconsin’s defense can cut down on the number of big plays.

12:07 p.m. Donovan pass batted down. Wisconsin will have to punt. Good play by Tennessee.

12:06 p.m. Wisconsin just eating up clock, with 18 minutes of possession to Tennessee’s 12. That’s how we are going to win.

12:05 p.m. Another early timeout by Wisconsin. What’s going on there? Unusual confusion on offense.

12:04 p.m. Donovan way off on Jefferson. His worst throw of the game.

12:03 p.m.Wisconsin already facing a third down on their first second half possession here. Nice throw to Kyle Jefferson! First down.

12:00 p.m. It’d be nice to see Travis Beckum in the second half.

11:53 a.m.I guess I have enough time to get my own pizza during this halftime.

11:51 a.m. Jeez, how long are these bowl halftimes? Are the Stones performing at Raymond James Stadium right now?

11:49 a.m. So what does Wisconsin have to do in the second half? Obviously protect Donovan better. If they can tighten up coverage in the passing game and get a little more pressure on Ainge, I think they’ll be OK.

11:46 a.m. Anybody give Michigan a chance to win today? I do. I think they’ll play hard for Lloyd Carr.

11:45 a.m. So nobody gives Illinois a chance to win in today’s Rose Bowl? Sounds about right. I’ll give USC the win by about 20.

11:37 a.m. I thought Robert Smith retired early to become like a neurosurgeon or something. Wasn’t he once considered the smartest guy in football? Here he’s just a studio analyst for ESPN. Hey, if Boomer Esiason can do it, I thought anyone could.

11:35 a.m. 21-14 at the half. What was starting to look ugly is now looking again like a winnable game for the Badgers.

11:34 a.m. Did they say the temperatures would be down to 20s in Tampa this week? What?

11:33 a.m. Big stop followed by pass batted down. We’ll go to the halftime only down by seven.

11:32 a.m. Can’t afford to let Volunteers score here with one minute left. Have to hold on to this momentum.

11:30 a.m. Donovan is 7 for 9 with a touchdown run and touchdown throw. Not bad for a guy who’s taking some serious abuse.

11:29 a.m. TOUCHDOWN WISCONSIN! Andy Crooks wide open in the end zone! Beautiful drive by the Badgers!

11:27 a.m. Jefferson wide open for a first down! Good play calling here. Nice mixing of run and
pass. Credit Badgers for not panicking after falling behind by 14.

11:26 a.m.Hill gets a huge first down on third and 2. Crucial to get some points here.

11:25 a.m. Looks nice and sunny in Tampa right now. Why didn’t I get to make the trip?
Graham gets another pass — that’s his fourth completion already. Surprising to see Graham as the leading receiver, but he is getting it done right now.

11:23 a.m.Donovan finally gets a little time and gets a first down pass to Graham. Plus Tennessee got a roughing the passer call. That was a little ticky-tacky, but perhaps Bielema’s complaining made an impact.

11:22 a.m.Well, Donovan is back in. Let’s hope we can protect him.

11:21 a.m. That play was to Cottam. Let’s see — the Volunteers have about 300 yards of offense. Donovan’s out of the game, at least right now. The only thing working for Badgers is the run game. Too early to give up on that.

11:19 a.m.Well, scratch that. Easy 16-yard pass play to Moore. Another big play . . . TOUCHDOWN VOLUNTEERS. Oh boy. They are completely having their way with Bielema’s defense.

11:18 a.m.Tennessee has ball again at midfield. Great stop by Badgers; Foster tackled for loss of two. Defense has to come up big here. Offense needs to get back on field and get into some kind of rhythm.

11:16 a.m.Donovan now looks better. Up and walking on sideline. Evridge still in. Brown drops pass! Officials are now saying incomplete pass. Evridge is dropping back about thirty yards to pass — replay makes it look like Wisconsin lucked out there since that play could have been called catch and fumble. Myabe officials are trying to make up for all of the cheap Volunteer shots on Donovan that they haven’t been calling.

11:14 a.m.Hey, while all of you are watching this game and probably gorging yourselves on goodies, I’m stuck here at WISC-TV drinking a soda and eating a Pop-Tart. Can someone get a pizza delivered to me? Thanks.

11:12 a.m.This is bad. Even worse than seeing that Rambo trailer.

11:10 a.m. Donovan did not slide effectively after that run. Looks like ankle way have gotten caught in turf. ESPN is loving showing Donovan’s parents agonizing over every hit. Donovan is now down and it looks like Evridge is coming in. Looks like left knee of Donovan is the problem. Very awkward slide on that last run.

11:09 a.m.Donovan is taped up. Again, non-throwing hand. Shouldn’t be a big deal.

11:07 a.m.That touchdown was set up by play action. Ainge is getting too much time to throw and Badgers secondary getting beat by Volunteers. I thought that without their leading receiver that Volunteers wouldn’t have this much success throwing the football. Ainge has 156 yards and we’re only one-third of the way through this thing.

11:05 a.m.Donovan’s bumps and bruises aren’t Wisconsin’s problem. Defense is. Another big pass play to Rogers. Tennessee is now ripping off yardage faster than I can write. They just scored a big touchdown. Briscoe beat Pleasant in the end zone. Volunteers up 14-7.

11:04 a.m.Tennessee good field position. Another nice screen by Tennessee. Sounds like Donovan has a cut and some swelling on his non-throwing hand wrist. Shouldn’t be serious enough to affect performance.

11:03 a.m.Donovan took another shot on what looks like a third down completion. Now they’re saying Graham didn’t make the marker. Three and out for Wisconsin.

11:02 a.m.Hill still in the game. Playing more than maybe I thought he would. 35 yards already.

11:00 a.m.Still tied at 7-7. Badger ball at their own 12. Be good to use up some clock here and get some points. Donovan throws incomplete. He’s on the run. Pass rush is getting to Donovan.

10:58 a.m.I don’t care how great a football career Joe Montana had. When I see him, all I can think of is that Saturday Night Live sketch where he repeats out loud his thoughts verbatim. Good stuff.

10:57 a.m.Nice screen by Volunteers. They’re certainly gaining the yardage on our defense. Ainge just overthrew Rogers, who had beaten Strickland. Dodged a bullet there. Volunteers have to punt.

10:56 a.m.Catch that commercial for Rambo in the last break? Most unnecessary sequel since Cannonball Run II.

10:54 a.m.Hardesty big play. Levy fell down.

10:53 a.m.Big pass play to Jones on 3rd down. Volunteer receivers are getting open.

10:49 a.m.End of first quarter. Tie game except passing wise where Ainge has big advantage over Donovan. Equalizer is the turnovers; which each team had one.

10:49 a.m.There’s David Cutcliffe. Like he cares about this game. He’s going to be partying with Coach K in a few days. Those guys know how to roll.

10:48 a.m.Good drive stopped way short. Volunteer ball at the 15.

10:46 a.m.Donovan is down again. He’s not getting good protection. Second sack and multiple hits.

10:45 a.m.Here’s to all of my WISC-TV colleagues slumming it down in Tampa. What is it, 70 degrees down there? Sounds awful.

10:44 a.m.Second timeout by Badgers.

10:42 a.m.Right now the Badgers are doing what they want. Dominating line of scrimmage and running the ball. Using the clock.

10:41 a.m.Another big run by Hill. He looks like he’s just fine. Good to see. Another first down as Hill carries again to Badgers 42-yard line.

10:39 a.m.Graham almost blew that pass but he came up with it. First down!

10:38 a.m.P.J. Hill is in the game. Gain of five for Hill on 1st and 15 after false start.

10:36 a.m.Fumble! Wisconsin recovers! Nick Hayden! Yes! What kind of play was that? Looked like something out of Football Follies. Can’t give Badgers too much credit for that botched play, but we’ll take it!

10:35 a.m.Wide open pass play to Hancock. Defense not looking good, which is exactly what the ESPN announcers are talking about.

10:34 a.m.More poor tackling on another big Volunteer run.

10:33 a.m.We can thank Gilreath for that last touchdown. Not very often you get the ball on the opponents’ 22-yard line.

10:29 a.m.Donovan up and walks off under own power. He’s getting the “where are you? what’s your name? which spears kid is currently pregnant?” test on the sideline.

10:28 a.m.TOUCHDOWN BADGERS! Donovan takes it in himself. But he is down holding his head. Great play but he took a huge hit. Let’s see if Donovan’s OK.

10:25 a.m.Now the Badgers get the time out. 3rd and goal as we go to time out. Badgers looking good here, particularly the run game.

10:25 a.m.Brown in end zone but nullified by illegal shift. Bielema is peeved. He tried to call time out.

10:24 a.m.Brown doing his best P.J. Hill impression and he’s down to the 2 yard line. Big answer to Volunteer drive happening right now.

10:23 a.m.Donovan to the end zone for Jefferson. Thought that was going to be six. Almost intercepted. Donovan late throwing the ball.

10:22 a.m.Nice run by Lance Smith. First down.

10:21 a.m. Great blocking for Gilreath on fantastic runback. Then add on to that a face mask penalty. Badgers have great field position. They are already on the Volunteer 22-yard line.

10:20 a.m.Back from first commercial break. Just checking on the chat portion. Not sure if that’s working. If you’re trying to join in on that and it’s not, sorry. I’ll try to work on it.

10:15 a.m.Touchdown Volunteers. Run by backup quarterback Jones. Terrible tackling by Badgers. Solid drive by Volunteers. Good mix of pass and run.

10:14 a.m.They are having an easy time getting outside on our defense. Line looks slow.

10:12 a.m.Another first down for the Volunteers. That fumble followed by the 40-yard pass
play was huge swing in momentum.

10:11 a.m.Forty-yard pass play! Good coverage but great throw. Big YAC.

10:10 a.m.Nice drop by Volunteer receiver. Remember they are playing without Lucas Taylor,
their leading receiver. Defense so far looks good. Early though of course.

10:09 a.m.Big sack on Donovan. Now we’ve got third and long. Hubbard fumbles! Argh! A great pass play ruined. Got to hang on to that ball.

10:07 a.m.Great defensive series by Wisconsin. Good field position. Big run by Zach Brown. Eight yards on first down.

10:06 a.m.Oh! Should have been intercepted! Remember the last time Erik Ainge played, he had two killer interceptions against LSU. Let’s make him as uncomfortable as possible.

10:05 a.m.Hey, Matt Kenseth does the intros. Big throw but incomplete. Good coverage by Strickland. He’ll need to do more of that in relief of Henry. Good play.

10:03 a.m.Big run but flag. Makes you wonder what Badger defense will show up here. But the call is holding against the Volunteers.

10:01 a.m.Kickoff. Touchback.

10:01 a.m.Be interesting to see how much P.J. Hill will play and what impact Zach Brown and Lance Smith will be able to have.

10:00 a.m.TV coverage has started. And it’s not only on the NFL Network!

9:58 a.m. OK, we’re going to try this again. For those of you who joined me for the Cowboys/Packers live blog and chat, I hope this one works as well as that one seemed to. However, I hope we have a better outcome this time than last time!

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