MADISON, Wis. Bowling Green State University nose guard Mike Thaler said at times it felt like the Falcons defense had only 10 players on the field yesterday.
Wisconsin running back Brian Calhoun made it seem as if there were half that number.
The Badgers rushed for 388 yards and seven touchdowns in their 56-42 win, going virtually untouched by the Falcons from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the fourth. In his first game with the Badgers, Calhoun had five TDs on 258 yards. Booker Stanley rushed for 103 yards and a TD.
My worst fear was realized, BG coach Gregg Brandon said. We couldn t stop them.
In a span from the 8:43 mark in the first quarter until 7:54 left, the Falcons held the Badgers out of the end zone just once, via a second-quarter Terrill Mayberry interception.
Calhoun, a transfer from Colorado who sat out last season, alternately darted through the holes the offensive line continually made for him and used speedy bursts around the outside. His five touchdowns tied a Wisconsin single-game record.
I thought we d hold up a little better, Brandon said. I didn t expect to get trucked up for 400 yards.
In the first half, the Badgers couldn t stop BG, either.
Quarterback Omar Jacobs completed his first eight passes for 65 yards. At the end of the first quarter, the Falcons had a 13-0 lead in front of 82,138 fans at Camp Randall Stadium.
But in the seemingly never-ending second period, BGSU gave up five touchdowns, three by Calhoun. The Falcons (0-1) scored three TDs of their own in the quarter, tying the score at 35 just four seconds before halftime on a 33-second drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jacobs to Steve Sanders. The play was set up by a 46-yard catch by Corey Partridge.
In the third quarter, the Falcon offense could no longer bail out the defense. BGSU ran 10 plays for minus-one yards on its two drives. Jacobs was sacked twice on the first drive. The Badgers (1-0) held the ball for 11 minutes, 19 seconds in the period and took a two-touchdown lead.
We sputtered, Brandon said. We kind of got out of sync offensively. We panicked a little, tried to rely on the big play. We still made some big plays but basically abandoned the running game.
The Falcons running game took a hit when senior P.J. Pope left in the second quarter with two sprained ankles and did not return. Jacobs said everything he saw from the Wisconsin defense was on game film, but he didn t expect the Badgers to score so much. He finished 30-of-51 for 458 yards passing, with five touchdowns and one interception.
That s kind of our goal, too, we keep the opposing offense off the field and they can t score, Jacobs said. They kept [our defense] on the field. They put the ball in the end zone, and we had to answer right back, and we couldn t answer.
Although Calhoun scored again at the beginning of the fourth, BGSU cut the lead back to two touchdowns and had a few chances to bring it closer. On a drive that started with eight minutes left, Jacobs 23-yard strike to Partridge put the Falcons at the Wisconsin 40. But Charles Sharon dropped a deep pass from Jacobs, another to Sharon was incomplete, and then Jacobs was intercepted by cornerback Levonne Rowan.
On its final drive, BGSU moved to the Wisconsin 1, but time expired.
Brandon said his staff will have to look at game tape to determine whether the defense was simply dominated or if players weren t in the right places.
We weren t tackling, Thaler said. A lot of times we were playing with 10 guys out there, Thaler said. It was one little thing here, one little thing there. You didn t see Bowling Green defense.
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