Oregon could easily play the role of a top ten team. Their absence in the top 25 is staggering. They are led by quarterback Joey Harrington who has brought them to extreme heights and after Wisconsin’s struggle against Western Michigan, many Badger fans expected the Ducks to roast the Badgers. Seeing a powerful Pac Ten team charge into town brought on an intimidation factor.
In addition, Wisconsin was still amidst the fog of their four game suspension for the 26 players who accepted free gifts from a shoe store and the helicopter flyover prior to the game didn’t blow away the smoke. Each player committing the offense had to sit out a certain amount of the first four games on the schedule. Coach Barry Alvarez had difficult decisions to make regarding which players to include and which to hold back. With Oregon looking to be the most challenging contest, he suited up cornerback Jamar Fletcher and tailback Michael Bennett.
Martha Stewart couldn’t have arranged her closet better than Alvarez arranged his team. Fletcher completely disrupted the Ducks aerial attack with three critical interceptions. Despite a scoreless and yard starved first half, Michael Bennett flashed for 290 yards total in the second half including road runner-like darts for 59, 75, and 83 yards. The most dramatic turn of events occurred late in the fourth quarter when Oregon linebacker, Matt Smith returned a Badger pass 47 yards for the lead taking score causing Wisconsin fans to acquire a sudden case of laryngitis.
However, on the first play from scrimmage following the Duck dazzler, Michael Bennett found the cure with an 83-yard dash to the one-yard line. Bollinger blasted forward for the final yard reclaiming the lead and never looking back. Wisconsin managed to score four touchdowns in the second half silencing the kazoos sounding from the green and yellow Duck fans in the corner of the stadium. Wisconsin looked like it might just escape this four game sentence error free.