Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Wisconsin wary of upset-minded Georgia Southern

Wisconsin will try to bounce back from an upset loss that knocked it out of the rankings when it hosts Georgia Southern on Saturday in Madison, Wis.

The Badgers (1-1) suffered their first loss of the Luke Fickell era, dropping a 31-22 decision at Washington State last Saturday. Wisconsin, which went into Pullman, Wash., ranked 19th, lost three fumbles and its trademark running game managed just 90 yards on 29 attempts.

“It was a tough one to swallow, going on the road and not performing the way we would’ve liked to perform,” said Fickell, who took over at Wisconsin after six seasons at Cincinnati, where he went 57-18.

“We got outplayed, to be honest with you. That’s just being real.”

Georgia Southern (2-0) has scored 83 points in its two victories, including a 49-35 win over UAB last Saturday.

“The reality is you’ve got a 2-0 Georgia Southern team that knocked off Nebraska at home last season,” Fickell said.

Wisconsin rallied from a 24-9 halftime deficit against Washington State to within 24-22 late in the third quarter, but was stopped on the two-point conversion. The Cougars recovered a Chez Mellusi fumble midway through the fourth quarter and turned it into a clinching 57-yard scoring drive.

SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai completed 25 of 40 passes for 278 yards with one touchdown against the Cougars, but he also lost two fumbles on strip-sacks, including one recovered for a touchdown.

Braelon Allen, who rushed for 2,510 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first two seasons, carried just seven times for 20 yards.

“They did a good job of taking away the run and stopping the run,” Fickell said.

The Eagles, picked in the preseason poll to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Conference East Division, are averaging 476.5 yards over their first two games.

Tulsa transfer Davis Brin has completed 65 of 83 passes this season for 562 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He completed 38 of 47 throws for 318 yards and two TDs against UAB.

“This was one of those momentum games that was going back and forth,” Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton told the Statesboro Herald. “With their weapons and Trent Dilfer as their head coach we knew it was going to be a high scoring game.”

Wisconsin has never faced Georgia Southern. Last season, the Eagles stunned Nebraska 45-42, another Big Ten opponent, with Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost fired the next day.

–Field Level Media

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