Madison – As much as any romanticist would prefer to apply a
generous dose of magic to a lovely half moon hanging over a
half-mad Camp Randall Stadium with the nation’s No. 1 team in the
house, magic didn’t have anything to do with what happened on an
otherwise enchanted Saturday night.

To beat great teams, and therefore dare to become great
yourself, you’ve got to do the elemental things, like blocking and

You’ve got to pound the
football behind a dominating
offensive line, accumulating outlandish drives that put almost 90
yards on the stat sheet and take 10 minutes off the clock and then
be able to counterpunch when No. 1 does likewise. You’ve got to
come out of the locker room like it will be the very last game you
will ever play by taking the very first kickoff into the end zone
from 97 yards away.

And then you can be like Wisconsin, which reopened the
possibility of a very special season by taking out its nemesis on
so many levels – the big, bad Ohio State Buckeyes – in a very big
way, 31-18 big.

Take a 21-point lead against No. 1 before the second quarter has
scarcely been broken in, and that’s not a statement. That’s a
fairly righteous shout from the top of the capitol dome that Bucky
just might be here to stay for that which remains in the Big

Lose most of that dominating advantage and then reclaim the
better part of it with imaginative play-calling and resilient
playmaking from mad-dashing freshman James White, and that’s a
fairly definitive ditto.

Of course, all the Badgers have to do now is turn around and do
it on the road this week against Iowa, but that piece of business
can wait.

For now, they are free to enjoy the spoils of an oldfashioned,
UW-style beatdown that, even if it did not completely atone for
Michigan State, came with precious few qualifiers. Maybe this is
what the Badgers can be.

Say if you wish that
football is in such a balanced state
that a No. 1 can be beaten in consecutive weeks, as South Carolina
demonstrated the previous Saturday against Alabama (and then lost
to Kentucky) in the upset that hastened the Buckeyes’ rise to No.
1, but that would not do justice to the way the Badgers were
prepared to bushwhack Ohio State.

It was more than David Gilreath, wheeled out of the stadium in
an ambulance five weeks prior, returning the opening kickoff with
nary a touch from a Buckeye and all the blocking necessary to daze
Ohio State from the start.

It was more than the O-line opening O-State-size holes from the
outset to free John Clay to the extent that it already appeared to
be a mismatch by the second drive.

It was more than the Wisconsin defense holding the Buckeyes to
minus-1 yard on three carries from first and goal at the 3, or J.J.
Watt coming up with a massive sack on third and 22 against one of
the most elusive quarterbacks in the league.

And it was more than UW coach Bret Bielema white-outing the last
Big Ten gap on his r?sum?. No matter that he wasn’t exactly
Big-Game Bret with a 1-8 record against ranked conference teams and
absolutely no success against Ohio State before Saturday night.

It was, in the end, a sum of the parts that added up to a top-10
nominee for one of the biggest victories in Wisconsin history, and
not just because it was the first in 29 years against a No. 1. It
was made that way by the manner in which the Badgers responded when
Camp Randall went flat like it hadn’t in 17 seasons against Ohio
State. The sound of silence was transformed into deafening noise
into the night because Wisconsin showed just how grown up it could
be doing the one thing that very good teams do when no special
effects are required.

They block, they tackle and they finish.

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