MADISON, Wis. – If you had told Wisconsin head football coach Barry Alvarez before the Badgers' game with Bowling Green here Saturday that he would have been involved in a shoot-out he might not believe you.
That's exactly what happened at Camp Randall Stadium in front of 82,138 fans as the Badgers (1-0) edged the Falcons (0-1), 56-42.
"If someone told me before the game that this is the type of game it would be I don't know if I would question it or not because I knew how good they were," Alvarez said in his post-game press conference. "I would just hope we could keep up."
Keep up the Badgers did and with a run-heavy offense nonetheless. Leading the way for the Badgers was junior transfer Brian Calhoun, who accounted for 297 yards of total offense, including 43 carries for 258 yards, five touchdowns and once reception for 39 yards. Calhoun set career bests in carries, yards and touchdowns while capturing a UW rushing record. The previous record for rushing yards in a debut game was held by Alan Thompson, who rushed for 220 yards against Oklahoma on Sept. 20, 1969.
Adding to the rush was junior Booker Stanley, who carried the ball 14 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Leading the way for BGSU was star junior quarterback Omar Jacobs, who Alvarez said is as good as advertised. Jacobs completed 30-of-51 passes for 458 yards, five touchdowns and one interception while being sacked four times. With having four TD's today, that makes it Jacobs' ninth time with that many TD's in one game and his fifth consecutive game accomplishing that feat.
"(Jacobs) lives up to all of his billing," Alvarez said. "Everything that was written about him, there wasn't anything blown out of proportion…"
The Badgers finished the game with 504 total offensive yards (338 rushing, 116 passing) opposed to the Falcons' 531 total yards on offense (73 rushing, 458 passing).
The Badgers knew entering the game controlling the ball was a key to their success, and they did just that in winning the time of possession battle with 33 minutes 19 seconds to the Falcons' 26 minutes and 41 seconds.
"We wanted to make sure, in this type of game playing this explosive offense, to try to chew up the clock," said UW co-offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. "That's what concerned us early and we took care of that, so it was good to get it going."
Alvarez said: "We wanted to posses the ball… because I felt like we could run the ball. When you're hit the line of scrimmage and it's second and six, I like that feeling. You know, our backs were finishing runs and we… didn't want (Jacobs) on the field. We didn't want their offense on the field. We didn't want to get cute. We just wanted to win the game…"
Early on it seemed as though time of possession wouldn't matter as the Falcons were quick to the end zone while holding the Badgers' offense in the first quarter. Jacobs found his receiver Corey Patridge 17 yards out for the first score with 11:02 remaining in the quarter. Later, Jacobs hit running back B.J. Lane for 18 yards with 2:02 left in the quarter to give the Falcons a 13-point lead heading into the second quarter. BGSU kicker Josef Timchenko missed the PAT.
When the Badgers entered the second quarter it was they who looked liked the more explosive offense, not the Falcons. The Badgers scored 35 points, which are the most points ever scored in one quarter during the Alvarez era. Despite that fact, BGSU was able to score 22 points of its own.
After UW quarterback John Stocco took a hard hit that left him sidelined for a moment, the junior returned to throw a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jonathan Orr to cut the lead, 13-7.
"You can draw it up and that's exactly what you want them to do," Stocco said of his lone TD strike. "They brought the blitz from that side so I just put it up so (Orr) could go get it."
BGSU scored on its next chance to go up 20-7, finishing a two-play drive that was capped off by a 63-yd TD from Jacobs to wide receiver Steve Sanders.
On the ensuing kickoff, UW senior wide receiver Brandon Williams received the kick at about the 8-yard line and ran it up field for 85 yards, which set up an 8-yard touchdown by senior fullback Matt Bernstein to bring the score to 20-14.
UW scored the next two touchdowns on scores by Calhoun to take a 28-20 lead. But Lane answered with a 5-yard rush of his own to cut the lead to six. The Falcons converted a two-point play to tie the game up with 3:09 remaining in the first half.
The scoring would not end there as both the Badgers and Falcons got into the end zone to tie the game at 35 heading into the locker room. Calhoun answered Lane to score his third TD of the afternoon while Jacobs hit Sanders for a 10-yard TD.
The Badgers were able to score their final touchdown of the half with 41 seconds remaining. Alvarez admitted after the game that he believed that would be enough time to hold BGSU out of the end zone, but he was wrong. The Falcons' final score of the first half was with four seconds remaining.
Entering the second half the Badgers took control in scoring three touchdowns to the Falcons' one. On the defensive side of the ball, UW played with more urgency in holding the Falcons to just one yard in 10 plays.
Calhoun scored a 1-yard TD with 11:49 remaining in the third quarter while Stanley scored his lone TD with 2:54 left.
In the fourth quarter Calhoun scored on a 9-yard run with 12:33 remaining to go up 56-35. But the Falcons were able to get into the end zone one last time as Jacobs found wide receiver Charles Sharon for 20 yards.
In the final 8 minutes of the game the UW defense stepped up. On second and 10, Jacobs was hurried by UW freshman left tackle Jason Chapman and forced into throwing a interception to senior cornerback Levonne Rowan. That play would ultimately seal the game for the Badgers.
"It was third and eight and No. 1 was their fastest receiver and number, I think it was, I'm not really sure of his number. He wasn't as fast… I was playing the sticks and he ran a curl and I was over the curl. (Jacobs) looked at the curl and saw I was all over it and I guess he tried to throw it out, but I just ran up and got it."
On the Falcon's final drive, down 56-42, they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone as the Badgers stopped Jacobs and Lane on the goal line as the clock ran out.
Look for premium content about Calhoun's big day and other stories later this evening and tomorrow.