It was too little too late for the Wisconsin offense.
Although the Badgers scored 10 points within a minute, 25 seconds late in the fourth quarter to keep alive a slight chance of hope to pull a senior-day miracle, the Badgers couldn’t make up for a poor offensive performance against a tough Penn State defense in a 31-24 humbling setback at Camp Randall Stadium in the regular season finale.
From the first series on, the Badgers’ offense struggled to get into a consistent rhythm against a defense that had given up 43.7 points per game in three true road games. Wisconsin ranking 18th in the country in total offense, the Badgers were held to only 120 yards rushing – their second-lowest mark of the season – and Wisconsin usual-sturdy offensive line gave up three sacks and six quarterback hurries.
Although the Badgers weren’t busting any big plays in the run game senior left guard Ryan Groy felt like they were close
SOT: It was there; we were a couple of blocks away every time. The scheme was there and the assignment was there. We just couldn’t finish.
The passing game wasn’t working either. Penn State was able to load up the box to slow down the Badgers run game daring the Badgers to beat them with the pass. Although quarterback Joel Stave threw for a career-high 339 yards on 53 pass attempts, the sophomore sailed passes over his receiver’s heads and threw three interceptions all in Penn State territory. He also fell victim to more than a handful of drops from his receivers.
With Penn State’s consistently pressure, Wisconsin never got the big hit its offense had become accustomed to throughout the season. Averaging seven plays of at least 20 yards per game on the season, Wisconsin managed only four such plays against Penn State, and none in the running game.
With Penn State loading up the box they tried to beat them with the passing game to try and help open up the run game.
SOT: I think we wanted to run pass mix when a team puts nine ten guys in the box it makes you want to get them out of it. To many guys in the box it makes it hard to run but makes the pass available.
Although the three interceptions hurt the Badgers offense the defense struggled to slow down true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State passing offense. Hackenberg went 21-30 for 339 yards and four touchdowns. With the Badgers lack of pass rush it allowed Hackenberg to sit back and find his open receivers.
Not only did Wisconsin not have an answer on how to slow down the Penn State pass they also had trouble getting the correct amount of defenders on the field. Beginning the third quarter the Penn State offense went up tempo and no huddle, which caused confusion for the Badgers defense in trying to get the right personnel on to the field.
However there was a bright spot for the Badgers. Senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis had 12 catches for 135 yards, which put him over a 1,000 yards receiving on the season.
For Webhawk News, this is Brian Becker in Madison