Early season stumbles against lesser opposition have been a trademark for Wisconsin football the past few years. Generally, these blunders occur in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Teams like Akron are supposed to be the recipients of brutal domination on the scoreboard. Games like this are supposed to instill confidence in players and fans that their team is headed for mountains of success. However, the Zips didn’t come to Madison to sightsee. Akron had an upset plan brewing in their pockets and they almost pulled it off.
The construction around the stadium signaled new changes in the Wisconsin program. Breathtaking additions and modern modifications highlighted a new turnaround for Camp Randall Stadium. While this slowly progressing change occurred around the venue, a more rapid change was about to develop on the field against the spunky Zips from Akron.
Never has there been two plays fostering such a dramatic turnaround. With the Badgers leading 34-31, Akron set up for a fourth and goal inside the Wisconsin one with under seven minutes remaining. Their option to run the ball up the middle failed as the Badger defense came up with a timely stop. Gasps of relief could be heard murmuring throughout the crowd. An Akron touchdown may have destroyed all Badger hopes while sending this mid-major team home with a monumental victory. Instead, Wisconsin set up their offense at their own one-inch line. What happened next was just short of surreal and was worthy of more than a gasp. Contrary to conservative approaches, coach Barry Alvarez opted for his offense to unload a deep pass. Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi stepped back and fired to a wide open Lee Evans who wheeled his way 99.9 yards for the score. The 75,000 plus fans who came to witness the home opener jolted out of their seats and exploded when Evans flew down the sideline shattering Akron’s hearts and upset attempts.
The final score on a day of “what could have beens” was 48-31. Has Wisconsin shaken the early season stumbles out of their system? UNLV comes in next week to see what they can shake up.