Bumbaca: Gaglianone, offense take 2015 season off life support

first_imgRedemption is best served piping hot, and Rafael Gaglianone served a steaming plate of it to a crowd of 89,886 fans at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday evening from the right hashmark of the 36-yard line.With nine seconds to go, the wind at his back and the Wisconsin football team trailing 21-20, Gaglianone — and possibly the football gods — pushed his 46-yard attempt just inside the right upright, the very post his 39-yard kick had hit one minute and 17 seconds prior.For every inch the ball moved through the fall air, the Badgers’ season hung in the balance. If it was good, Gaglianone would take their season off life support for the time being and keep their goal of a Big Ten West title alive. If it was no good, it would take a great deal of fortune to reach Indianapolis.So when the ball crossed the threshold to put Wisconsin up 23-21 with four seconds remaining and Gaglianone leaped in the air, pumped his fist and ran down the field in celebration with the special teams unit behind him, he became the face of the dramatic comeback victory to keep the Badgers’ season afloat.That truly is the beauty of sports. One minute you’re the goat, and the next, you’re the hero. There aren’t many other facets of life where that’s possible.But Gaglianone wasn’t the only one redeeming himself.Joel Stave, no matter how much UW fans wanted his head after the loss to Iowa, led the Badgers on two potentially game-winning drives — and one winner. He dropped back 50 times — he probably doesn’t even throw that much in practice — and despite completing only half of his passes for 332 yards, he stepped up on the final two drives of the game when his team needed him most.Most of all, Stave proved once again that he can come in clutch. Like he did in the Outback Bowl against Auburn on Jan. 1, he exuded poise and confidence from the pocket, leading his team downfield twice and proving that Wisconsin doesn’t win without him.Dare Ogunbowale rushed for a career-high 117 yards on 18 careers, with 83 yards coming in the fourth quarter. This came after rushing for only 113 yards in his last two games.Ogunbowale’s performance served as an example of several other offensive players stepping up.An already-beleaguered offense without Austin Traylor and Corey Clement suffered another blow when Taiwan Deal exited the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Enter Alec Ingold, who as a true freshman moved to running back from linebacker just three weeks ago. He scored the Badgers’ second touchdown of the game, and the first of his career in the third quarter, putting Wisconsin up 17-14.Troy Fumagalli, a redshirt sophomore filling in for Traylor, caught his first career touchdown in the second quarter to give UW a 7-0 lead. He served as Stave’s primary target over the middle, like Traylor did, and had an impressive afternoon, catching six passes for 60 yards.Fumagalli redeemed himself as well. He was one week removed from being Stave’s target on the pivotal 4th-and-2 late in the Iowa game, but ran a poor route and couldn’t get his hands on the pass.Alex Erickson didn’t have a full week of practice because of a concussion. He still led the Badgers with seven catches and 113 yards, including a pivotal 31-yard catch down the right sideline with the Badgers backed up at their own nine-yard line and less than a minute remaining.Right behind Erickson were Robert Wheelwright (five catches, 81 yards) and Jazz Peavy (four catches, 44 yards). Stave targeted Wheelwright seven times, with all five completions going for first-downs. Peavy drew a pass interference call on a 3rd-and-11 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. The drive ended with Ingold’s touchdown.In the midst of all the offensive bright spots, the defense once again came up with a stop with their backs against the wall. Had Nebraska gotten a first down after Gaglianone’s miss, the game would’ve been over.But the main goal of this defense is to get the ball back to the offense. They did, and this time, the offense didn’t disappoint.This whole “coming up clutch” thing isn’t necessarily a typical Wisconsin football trait. Wisconsin too often finds itself on the other side of games like Saturday’s.And though it’s just one game — one comeback win against a Nebraska team that could be 6-0 if it were not for four plays — maybe there’s something different about these Badgers.Maybe.last_img read more