Sept 21, 2002
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin found its running game, while Arizona lost its touch through the air.
Anthony Davis ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns as the 22nd-ranked Badgers defeated Arizona 31-10 Saturday.
Brooks Bollinger threw the ball effectively to help Wisconsin (5-0) spread its offense to open up running lanes. Bollinger was 13-of-19 for 127 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for one TD to improve to 27-7 as a starter, tying a school record before giving way to backup Jim Sorgi.
"We spread our formation out to try and run the ball. But when you do that, to be able to get respect from the defense, you still have to be able to throw it and catch it," coach Barry Alvarez said.
Arizona (2-1) looked nothing like the country's second-best passing attack. Quarterback Jason Johnson struggled against the Badgers' rush, and his receivers dropped several passes. He was 13-of-27 for 129 yards and was intercepted once before being yanked after the third quarter. Last week against Utah, he threw for 416 yards.
The only bright spot on offense for Arizona was Clarence Farmer. Last year's Pac-10 rushing leader struggled in Arizona's first two games, but on Saturday he ran for 131 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown.
"We felt we were always one play away, but there was a penalty or dropped pass or something else would go wrong," Johnson said.
The Badgers blew open the game with a second quarter that was classic Wisconsin football - a solid running game, efficient passing, and waiting for the opponent to make mistakes.
Davis was held to successive career lows of 81, 75 and 49 yards the previous three games. But he had 104 yards by halftime, including touchdown runs of 6 and 3 yards.
Bollinger set up the first TD by hitting Jonathan Orr for 25 yards to give Wisconsin first-and-goal at the 1. After a 5-yard penalty for a false start, Davis ran it in from 6 yards out after bouncing off a couple tacklers and fighting another defender over the goal line.
On Arizona's next possession, Andrae Thurman dropped a pass that would have given the Wildcats a first down on third-and-10. Wisconsin's Alex Lewis came straight up the middle and blocked the punt. David Braun picked up the loose ball, giving the Badgers first-and-goal at the 3. Davis ran in untouched on the next play, and Wisconsin was up 14-0.
"The blocked punt really hurt the most, because they turned it into a touchdown," said Arizona coach John Mackovic. "They were able to dominate up front. We weren't able to force some turnovers or make big plays when we needed to. They made it tough for us to hang in there."
The Badgers continued to grind it out on their next possession, taking over at the own 4. Davis started the drive by running for 29 yards. Wisconsin's only mistake on the drive was a holding call that wiped out a 16-yard touchdown run by Davis. But Bollinger atoned by hitting Orr for 17 yards for the touchdown.
Scott Campbell's 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the half put Wisconsin up 24-0.
Wisconsin gave up 455 yards to Northern Illinois last week, 273 of that through the air, and gave up several long passes. But the secondary focused on deep routes during practice this week, and B.J. Tucker picked off two passes, one from Johnson, as Wisconsin kept Arizona bottled up.
Thurman and Bobby Wade came into the game each averaging better than 18 yards a catch. Wade caught seven passes for 85 yards, while Thurman had just 2 for 10 yards.
"I don't think we were intimidated, but we weren't really ready for Wisconsin's intensity," Wade said. "We had the opportunity to hit Wisconsin in the mouth and play hard with them, but our offense just laid down."
Wisconsin already has matched its win total from all of last season, when it went 5-7.
"There's been some concern about not playing our best football, yada, yada, but right now we're sitting 5-0," Bollinger said.
By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer