"I was probably the least surprised person out of 80,000 here today," Northwestern coach Randy Walker said after Damien Anderson's 12-yard TD run in the second overtime gave the Wildcats a 47-44 victory over No. 7 Wisconsin on Saturday.
"I expected to win. We don't put a plan together, or prepare or work like we work to do anything but that."
The Badgers, who had opened their suspension-tinged season with three close calls, saw their 11-game winning streak halted and their hopes of their first national championship squelched when Anderson scooted around left end and darted into the end zone.
Anderson wasn't convinced. After all, 51 points were scored from the middle of the fourth quarter on.
"I was looking for flags," he admitted.
Moments earlier, the Badgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) had taken a 44-41 lead on Vitaly Pisetsky's 39-yard field goal.
Northwestern (3-1, 1-0), which had never scored this many points against Wisconsin, got 174 yards on 21 carries from Anderson, who also scored on a 69-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
Zak Kustok's 9-yard scramble on third-and-6 set up the winning score.
"We weren't just going to be happy going into overtime with Wisconsin," Kustok said. "We wanted to beat them."
The Badgers, who had never scored this many points and lost, saw an unranked opponent ruin their season for the second straight year. Last season, it was a stumble at Cincinnati that spoiled it.
The Badgers completed their NCAA-mandated suspensions by sitting out six players against the Wildcats, including No. 1 receiver Chris Chambers and All-American cornerback Jamar Fletcher. They were among 26 layers who got caught receiving unadvertised discounts at a shoe store.
It looked as though Wisconsin would make it through the punishment unbeaten when Pisetsky's 47-yard field goal gave the Badgers a 34-31 lead with 51 seconds left in regulation.
But, just as Cincinnati did a week earlier, Northwestern quickly moved downfield for a game-tying field goal as time expired. Tim Long was good from 46 yards.
"I was disappointed that for the second week in a row, we let a team march 50 yards in less than a minute with no timeouts and kick a field goal to take it to overtime," Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said.
Both teams scored TDs in the first overtime, Northwestern on a 15-yard pass from Kustok to Teddy Johnson, and Wisconsin on a 5-yard pass from Brooks Bollinger to Nick Davis.
Wisconsin tailback Michael Bennett returned from his one-game suspension and gained a career-high 293 yards on 48 carries. But the ball jammed into his rib cage on a 9-yard run, and he went out with the scored tied at 31 and the Badgers on the Northwestern 29 with a minute left.
With Bennett on the sideline, the Wildcats stuffed his backup, Eddie Faulkner, and Bollinger on consecutive second-and-1 rushes and the Badgers settled for Pisetsky's 47-yard field goal with 51 seconds left just enough time for the Wildcats to hit back.
"I'm a little disappointed in myself," Bennett said. "The effort was great, but I wanted to come through in the clutch, when it really counted."
There were five scores in the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter.
Davis, the Badgers' best big-play threat, returned from his three-week suspension and showed plenty of rust, fumbling two punts and dropping a TD pass.
"I don't want to make excuses," Davis said. "I hate people who make excuses. I dropped the ball."
The Badgers took a 16-7 halftime lead and were threatening again on the opening drive of the second half when Bollinger was sacked at midfield and coughed up the ball right into the hands of linebacker Kevin Bentley, who rumbled 50 yards for the score.
"You know how demanding our program is and how much we expect out of our kids," Walker said. "It's just great to give them evidence. For a year and a half, I have been waiting to give them evidence that there is a method to the madness and a reason for all the things we try to do."
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