Jan 1, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (13) throws the ball during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 LSU scores last, edges Wisconsin at ReliaQuest Bowl

Garrett Nussmeier filled in for Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels and passed for 395 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 13 LSU to a 35-31 victory over Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Monday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.

Nussmeier oudueled Tanner Mordecai, who passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns for the Badgers (7-6), including two scores to Will Pauling, who finished with 143 receiving yards.

Nussmeier passed for 84 yards on a 98-yard drive that ended with his 4-yard touchdown pass to Brian Thomas Jr., giving LSU (10-3) its only lead, 35-31, with 3:08 remaining.

Mordecai drove the Badgers to a first down at the Tigers 27, but he was sacked on three consecutive plays and Wisconsin turned the ball over on downs.

Daniels watched from the sideline after choosing to focus on the NFL draft, and Malik Nabers, who already was LSU’s all-time leader in career pass receptions, became the leader in career receiving yards in the first quarter before sitting out the second half.

Wisconsin received the second-half kickoff and Jackson Acker raced 33 yards for a touchdown that increased the Badgers’ lead to 28-14.

Nussmeier threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Thomas and he added a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hilton Jr. that tied the score.

The Badgers reached a first-and-goal at the Tigers 1 but settled for Nathaniel Vakos’ 21-yard field goal and a 31-28 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Badgers drove to a score on their first drive, which ended with Mordecai’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Bryson Green, who finished with 105 yards, and a 7-0 lead.

Mordecai added a 53-yard touchdown pass to Pauling for a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

LSU finally scored when Harold Perkins Jr. rushed 1 for a touchdown early in the second quarter, and the Tigers made it two touchdowns in two possessions when Kaleb Jackson ran 12 yards to tie the score at 14.

Wisconsin came right back, and five plays later, Mordecai and Pauling teamed on a 9-yard touchdown pass that gave the Badgers a 21-14 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (13) throws  pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 LSU, minus Jayden Daniels, turns page to face Wisconsin

LSU had the most productive offense in the country during the regular season.

Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Trophy.

However, the No. 13 Tigers won’t have Daniels, who is focusing on the NFL draft, or offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, who left to take a similar position at Notre Dame, when it faces Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Monday in Tampa.

“Jayden did what was best for him, everybody understands his decision and we support him in everything that he does,” LSU defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo said. “The culture here is that guys started together, and we want to finish this together.”

Wingo is planning to play in the bowl game even though he missed the final five games of the regular season after undergoing abdominal surgery.

“I’m the captain of this team,” Wingo said. “I feel like I owe those guys to come back and play. I hate that I had to have surgery and miss (much of) the season, but it’s important to finish out the season with those guys.

“Sometimes around bowl games, practice gets lackadaisical, guys are out there (just) to get to the bowl game. This team’s been very intentional with our work and taking the individual periods very seriously and really trying to get better.”

Daniels’ top two receiving targets — Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., who were a finalist and semifinalist, respectively, for the Biletnkoff Award — are expected to play and be the top targets for Garrett Nussmeier as he steps in for Daniels.

LSU (9-3) will try to produce a second consecutive 10-win season, the importance of which coach Brian Kelly emphasized as the Tigers were eliminated from the Southeastern Conference West race with a loss at Alabama on Nov. 4.

“That’s something that helped guys want to come out and play this game,” LSU linebacker Greg Penn said of Kelly’s statement. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do that for us and our fans.”

Quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan and wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Cortez Hankton will serve as co-offensive coordinators after Denbrock’s departure.

Badgers coach Luke Fickell called Nussmeier “a really, really good player, too,” but acknowledged that Daniels’ absence removes “the dynamic of a legitimate, take-it-the-distance quarterback run.”

Wisconsin (7-5) also will be missing a key offensive player as leading rusher Braelon Allen announced he was opting out before the Badgers’ bowl invitation was even offered. He ran for 984 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

Another handful of key players have either opted out to focus on the draft or entered the transfer portal.

Yet Fickell said, “There’s a bounce in some of these guys’ step to have these opportunities (as replacements).”

Though LSU averaged 50 points while winning its last three games in the regular season, the absence of Daniels and Allen could lead to a lower-scoring game.

“You hear about Jayden Daniels and the wide receivers and all the skill people,” Fickell said, “and then all of a sudden you really start to watch and you see what kind of makes the engine go, and that’s the guys up front both offensively and defensively.”

–Field Level Media

Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) talks to the media as part of Wisconsin Badgers' football media day at the McClain Center in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen entering 2024 NFL Draft

Running back Braelon Allen is entering the 2024 NFL Draft after three seasons with Wisconsin.

Allen, who rushed for nearly 3,500 career yards, said farewell to the school in a social media post on Tuesday.

“I can confidently say I gave my all, through the ups and downs, all I ever wanted was to win and put my best foot forward for my teammates every Saturday,” he posted on X. “… Thank you everyone for the support over the last 3 years, and I hope to make y’all proud at the next level.”

Allen is not expected to participate in a bowl game for the Badgers (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten).

He rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s 28-14 win at Minnesota to finish the season with 984 yards and 12 scores.

Allen racked up 3,494 yards and 35 touchdowns on the ground and added 49 catches for 275 yards in 35 games for his home-state Badgers. He was the MVP of the 2021 Las Vegas Bowl and the Offensive MVP of the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs with the ball as quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) puts a block on Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Jack Henderson (20) at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Braelon Allen sparks Wisconsin in win over Minnesota

Braelon Allen rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns to lead Wisconsin to a 28-14 win over host Minnesota in a Big Ten matchup Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.

Tanner Mordecai completed 14 of 22 passes for 145 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for Wisconsin (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten). Mordecai also rushed nine times for 69 yards.

Athan Kaliakmanis completed 16 of 28 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception for Minnesota (5-7, 3-6). Jordan Nubin finished with 93 yards and a rushing touchdown, and Daniel Jackson had nine catches for 121 yards and a score.

The Badgers handed Minnesota its fourth straight loss. The Golden Gophers failed to secure bowl eligibility in what turned out to be their final game of the season.

Wisconsin took charge with two touchdowns in the third quarter to go ahead 28-14.

Allen gave the Badgers their first lead on a 4-yard touchdown run that made it 21-14 with 9:24 left in the third quarter. It was Allen’s second rushing touchdown of the game, his 12th of the season and the 35th of his career.

In the final minute of the third quarter, Wisconsin scored again to seize a 14-point advantage. Mordecai hit Riley Nowakowski for a 5-yard touchdown.

Minnesota opened the scoring on its first possession of the game. A 30-yard pass from Kaliakmanis to Jackson set up first-and-goal at the 4-yard line, and Nubin finished the drive two plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Wisconsin pulled even at 7-7 with 13:04 left in the second quarter. Allen scored on a 5-yard run to cap off an 11-play, 86-yard drive.

The Golden Gophers regained a 14-7 lead when Kaliakmanis connected with Jackson for a 7-yard touchdown with 4:30 remaining in the first half.

On the following possession, the Badgers answered once again to even the score at 14. Will Pauling hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai.

–Field Level Media

Pittsburgh head football coach Pat Narduzzi at the 89th Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl against UCLA, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at the Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.

Ucla V Pitt Sun Bowl

Pitt, Wisconsin to open 2027 season in Dublin

Pitt and Wisconsin will play in the 2027 edition of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

The programs on Tuesday jointly announced the game, scheduled for Aug. 28, 2027.

The series began under this branding when Georgia Tech beat Boston College 17-14 in Dublin in 2016.

Northwestern beat Nebraska 31-28 in their 2022 season opener in Dublin, and Notre Dame beat Navy 42-3 there to kick off the current season. Georgia Tech will face Florida State in Dublin in their 2024 season opener.

The Panthers will serve as the home team. Pitt has played on the Emerald Isle once before, beating Rutgers 46-29 in December 1989.

“What an honor it is for our Panthers to receive an invitation to play in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Dublin,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “As a coach, you want the young men in your program to have impactful personal experiences, on and off the field.

“I am grateful our team will have the opportunity to play in this special game against a great opponent like Wisconsin.”

Meanwhile, it will be Wisconsin’s first time playing in Ireland. The Badgers’ only game outside the U.S. came in 1993 in Tokyo, a 41-20 win over Michigan State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Chubba Purdy (12) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Braelon Allen’s TD in OT lifts Wisconsin past Nebraska

Braelon Allen scored on a 3-yard run in overtime to give Wisconsin a 24-17 comeback victory over visiting Nebraska on Saturday night, as the Badgers snapped a three-game skid to become bowl eligible.

Wisconsin gambled on fourth-and-1 in the first overtime and got the first down on Allen’s 2-yard pickup. Allen scored on the next play to put the Badgers up 24-17.

Nebraska lost a yard on a run and then sandwiched a pair of incompletions around a false start penalty. Chubba Purdy’s pass on fourth-and-16 was picked off by Preston Zachman at the 4.

Wisconsin (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), which also avoided its first four-game home losing streak since 1990, can extend its streak of bowl games to 22 seasons. The Badgers have won 10 straight against Nebraska.

Nebraska (5-6, 3-5) needs to win its final game at home vs. Iowa to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.

Nebraska’s Tristan Alvano sent the game into overtime with a 30-yard field goal from the right hash with four seconds remaining.

Nebraska scored on its first two possessions, but Wisconsin rallied within 14-10 at the half, and then took a 17-14 lead on Allen’s 2-yard touchdown run to cap a 79-yard drive midway through the third quarter.

Purdy, starting in place of injured quarterback Heinrich Haarberg, scrambled for 22 yards to give the Huskers a first down at the Wisconsin 26 with 1:35 left in regulation to set up the tying field goal.

Purdy completed 15 of 23 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown, and ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Purdy accounted for touchdowns of 55 and 58 yards on the Cornhuskers’ first two series.

On the opening series, Purdy turned a scramble out of the pocket on third-and-3 into a 55-yard touchdown run. The Huskers made it 14-0 with a six-play, 76-yard drive capped by Purdy’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Lloyd.

The Badgers pulled within 14-7 on Tanner Mordecai’s 26-yard pass to Jackson Acker out of the backfield midway through the second quarter.

Nathanial Vakos hit a 35-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in the half. Alvano was wide right on a 42-yard attempt on the final play of the half.

Mordecai completed 18 of 28 passes for 160 yards and one score.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Cam Johnson (14) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Bryant leads Northwestern to road win at Wisconsin

Ben Bryant returned from injury to pass for two touchdowns and run for another as visiting Northwestern used a dominant first half to down Wisconsin 24-10 on Saturday.

Bryant, who missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, completed 18 of 26 passes for 195 yards as Northwestern (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) built a 24-3 halftime lead and snapped a 14-game losing streak in true road games.

Bryant transferred from Cincinnati, where he played for current Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell.

Wisconsin (5-5, 3-4) got its only touchdown on a 3-yard run by Jackson Acker with 11 seconds left. The Badgers, picked to win the Big Ten West in the preseason poll, have lost three straight and four of their last five.

Wisconsin took a 3-0 lead on Nathanial Vakos’ 33-yard field goal on its opening drive, but the Wildcats answered with touchdown drives of 79, 68, and 90 yards and then added a field goal for a 24-3 halftime lead.

On Northwestern’s first possession, Bryant completed 7 of 8 passes, capping the 12-play drive with a 23-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open A.J. Henning.

Bryant scored on a 1-yard run to put the Wildcats up 14-3 with 12:54 left in the first half.

The Wildcats went 90 yards in nine plays to make it 21-3 with 6:41 remaining in the half. Bryant hit Cam Johnson deep right for a 24-yard touchdown on third-and-6.

Northwestern converted its first 10 third-down opportunities before Bryant was stopped short on a third-and-13 scramble. The Wildcats settled for Jack Olsen’s 28-yard field goal.

Northwestern, which entered last in the Big Ten in rushing at 98.6 yards per game, outgained Wisconsin 125-14 on the ground in the first half.

The Badgers drove to the Northwestern 8 on their first drive of the second half but turned it over on downs.

Tanner Mordecai, who returned after missing three games with a broken throwing hand, completed 31 of 45 passes for 255 yards for Wisconsin.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Jackson Acker (34) during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Banged-up Wisconsin tries to keep up in division race, faces Indiana

Already hampered by injuries on offense, Wisconsin might be missing two more key pieces when it travels to Bloomington, Ind., to face Indiana on Saturday with hopes of remaining in the Big Ten West race.

Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) is coming off a 24-10 home loss to third-ranked Ohio State that dropped the Badgers into a four-way tie atop the West division with Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Indiana (2-6, 0-5) lost 33-24 to then-No. 10 Penn State after being tied at 24 with just under three minutes to play. The Hoosiers have to win their last four games to become bowl-eligible.

Already without starting quarterback Tanner Mordecai and running back Chez Mellusi, the Badgers suffered two more key injuries vs. the Buckeyes. Leading rusher Braelon Allen suffered a leg injury just before the half and returned to the sideline in a walking boot. Senior wideout Chimere Dike, also the team’s leading punt and kickoff returner, also left with a leg injury.

“Don’t know a whole lot,” Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell said. “They were out at practice on Sunday. Didn’t do a whole lot, but it’s only Monday. We’ll have to find some things out during the week.”

Redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke, in his second career start, completed 18 of 39 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions against Ohio State. Redshirt sophomore Jackson Acker had nine carries for 34 yards after Allen went out.

Wisconsin, which was tied 10-10 early in the third quarter against the Buckeyes, managed just 259 yards of total offense.

Indiana outgained the Nittany Lions 349-342 with redshirt freshman Brendan Sorsby passing for 269 yards. Sorsby, in his third career start, tossed three touchdown passes, including a 90-yarder and another for 69 yards.

Sorsby, who replaced Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson as the starter, is 58-of-108 passing for 689 yards with six touchdowns and one pick in six games.

“You just want to see whoever takes over to take it and then just start growing, and take the position and run with it,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said Monday. “And I think we’ve seen the last few weeks the growth with Brendan.”

Indiana averages 316.4 yards per game while allowing 363.1. The Hoosiers average 18.6 points per game, while giving up 29.8, each ranking 13th in the 14-team conference.

Indiana won the last meeting between the teams 14-6 at Wisconsin in 2020, snapping the Badgers’ 10-game winning streak vs. the Hoosiers. Wisconsin leads the all-time series 41-19-2.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Maema Njongmeta (55) attempts to tackle Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) during the first half of the NCAA football game at Camp Randall Stadium.

No. 3 Ohio State rolls over Wisconsin to stay unbeaten

Kyle McCord connected with Marvin Harrison Jr. on two touchdown passes as No. 3 Ohio State remained undefeated with a 24-10 victory over Wisconsin in a Big Ten matchup in Madison, Wis., on Saturday night.

Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten), which avoided a letdown after last week’s victory over previously unbeaten Penn State, moved into a tie atop the Big Ten East with second-ranked Michigan, which was idle this week.

Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2) dropped into a four-way tie atop the Big Ten West with Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

The Buckeyes gained control on TreVeyon Henderson’s 33-yard touchdown run to make it 24-10 with 5:15 remaining in the game.

Ohio State went in front 17-10 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from McCord to Harrison midway through the third quarter.

McCord completed 17 of 26 passes for 226 yards with the two touchdowns and two first-half interceptions. Harrison had six catches for 123 yards, and Henderson finished with 162 yards on 24 carries.

The Buckeyes, who entered Saturday ranked fifth in the nation in total defense at 260.1 yards allowed per game, held Wisconsin to 259 yards.

Wisconsin erased a 10-0 deficit with scores on each side of halftime.

The Badgers tied it 10-10 with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter. Redshirt freshman quarterback Braedyn Locke started the drive with a 27-yard completion to Bryson Green, gained 29 yards on a scramble and hit Will Pauling with a 13-yard touchdown pass.

Wisconsin had a first-and-goal from the Ohio State 1 on the final possession of the first half, but it settled for Nathanial Vakos’ 19-yard field goal on the final play.

Wisconsin’s leading rusher Braelon Allen, who had 50 yards on 10 carries on Saturday, suffered what the team announced as a left leg injury on the final series of the first half and did not return.

Locke, making his second start in place of injured Tanner Mordecai, completed 18 of 39 passes for 165 yards and the score.

The Buckeyes turned an Allen fumble on Wisconsin’s first possession into a 27-yard field goal by Jayden Fielding. They extended the lead to 10-0 on McCord’s 16-yard scoring toss to Harrison.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini running back Kaden Feagin (3) runs the ball against Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Alexander Smith (11) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Big fourth quarter vaults Wisconsin over Illinois

Redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke, in his first collegiate start, hit lineman Nolan Rucci with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining as the Wisconsin Badgers rallied to beat Illinois 25-21 in a Big Ten West matchup Saturday in Champaign, Ill.

Locke, a transfer from Mississippi State but never played there, started in place of injured Tanner Mordecai, who broke his throwing hand in last week’s loss to Iowa. The Badgers scored 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten), which trailed 21-7 after three quarters, pulled within 21-18 with scores on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. Nathanial Vakos kicked a 41-yard field goal with 14:13 left to play, and Locke hit Will Pauling on a 20-yard touchdown reception, plus the two-point conversion.

The Badgers forced a punt and took over on their own 17-yard line with 3:24 remaining. Locke hit Skyler Bell deep up the left side for 30 yards and a first down on the Illinois 5 with 1:06 remaining. Two running plays picked up two yards, and Locke then found Rucci uncovered in the left side of the end zone.

Wisconsin moved back atop the Big Ten West with Iowa’s 12-10 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, but the Badgers host third-ranked Ohio State on Oct. 28.

Locke completed 21 of 41 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Braelon Allen ran for 145 yards and one score on 29 carries.

Luke Altmyer, a sophomore transfer from Ole Miss, completed 13 of 21 passes for 100 yards, including touchdowns of 1 and 3 yards to stake Illinois (3-5, 1-4) to a 14-0 lead. He also ran for 100 yards.

Kaden Faegin’s 12-yard touchdown run around the right end put the Illini up 21-7 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

The Badgers threatened midway through the second quarter, but botched a 28-yard field goal attempt. Illinois responded with a 12-play, 82-yard scoring drive, capped by Altmyer’s 3-yard pass to Tip Reiman to make it 14-0.

Wisconsin answered with a 73-yard drive, pulling within 14-7 on Allen’s 4-yard run with 31 seconds remaining in the half. Locke completed 4 of 6 passes for 66 yards on the drive.

Illinois capitalized on a fumble by Locke for its first score. Altmyer hit Tanner Arkin wide open in the right flat for a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap the 54-yard drive.

–Field Level Media