Stanford 17, Wisconsin 14, halftime
On the opening snap of the second quarter, Ball goes untouched up the middle for six, but Wisconsin left tackle Rick Wagner gets called for tackling Ben Gardner. Wisconsin runs the next two plays to get back to the Stanford 10. They’re going to have to start getting more aggressive than this soon, as they’ve passed just twice all day. Sure enough, slot man Jacob Pedersen gets underneath Shayne Skov and A.J. Tarpley on a third-down slant and is given a touchdown. Upon review, the touchdown is called back and Barry Alvarez and the Badgers now face a big fourth down call at the Cardinal one. On a direct snap to James White – and I can already hear Wisconsin fans, if they are anything like Booties, asking why it wasn’t Montee Ball – Stanford holds in the proverbial shadow of its own goalposts. On a drive twice extended by penalty calls, the officials also ended up calling back two would-be Wisconsin touchdowns, allowing Stanford to make the hold the third time.
14-0, Stanford, 13:18 left in the second quarter.
Waving the proverbial white flag or perhaps invoking the mercy rule on its next possession, Stanford runs it up the middle three times and punts. Wisconsin assumes possession at the Cardinal 49, and Montee Ball goes for 15, with Devon Carrington coming through with a touchdown-saving tackle. Barry Browning does his best Ronnie Harris impression, raking out a would-be touchdown pass the very next snap, but on third down, a Curt Phillips pass deflects off Henry Anderson’s helmet and right into the arms of Jared Abbredis at the Cardinal 11. Tip it to a different guy next time, Henry!
The whole series, Stanford has been generating no pressure up the middle, and the Cardinal pay for it on the next snap. Stanford can get no push up the middle with Terrence Stephens inactive for the game, and Ball has enough time to find an alley to his right and dive for the end zone for an 11-yard score.
14-7, Stanford, 9:05 left in the second quarter
Anthony Wilkerson takes a wildcat snap for 19, meaning Stanford has 55 yards on two wildcat snaps today. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Wilkerson then goes for eight on a traditional handoff before Hogan finds Montgomery for 14 over the middle. No. 88 factors into the next two plays as well, the first a slip from Hogan that sails ten feet over his head. The second is a six-yard screen, putting Stanford in a third and four at the Wisconsin 31 with 6:28 to play. On the money down, Hogan misses his first throw of the day (not counting the slip), firing high and wide to Zach Ertz, who can only get one hand on the rock. On comes Jordan Williamson for a 47-yarder, in a situation in which a miss would represent a major momentum shift and leave Wisconsin one snap from tying a game Stanford has dominated. But Williamson rewards David Shaw’s faith in him, pulling through on a 47-yard attempt, as Stanford reclaims a two-possession lead.
Stanford 17, Wisconsin 7, 6:19 left in the second quarter
Stanford’s backfield shows up the next series, as Ronnie Harris drops Wisconsin’s kick returner at the 15, and Jordan Richards has a nice perimeter open-field tackle on a fly sweep. On the resulting third down and 11, Wisconsin goes screen and Montee Ball looks like he’ll have it, but Shayne Skov defeats his block, brings Ball to the turf at the Badger 21 and gives himself a highlight to make NFL scouts drool.
The next series starts with the fade to Levine Toilolo, and Booties’ other top pet peeve of a play call (alongside the wildcat) again works. What do we know, as Toilolo draws the yellow cloth, generating a pass interference call and 15 free yards. Alas, Stanford stalls out on the subsequent series, and though Hogan makes two guys miss with some nifty moves on third and 11, he can only pick up eight, and Wisconsin can now try to keep the Stanford offense off the field for the rest of the half. They’ll have it at their 15 after a fair catch. Worth noting: Hogan again misfired on second down to Montgomery on that last series, so after a hot start, his accuracy is starting to flag.
Stanford 17, Wisconsin 7, 2:23 left in the second quarter
Drip, drip, drip. It’s Ball for five and then Ball for nine as the clock hits the 1:30 mark. Phillips’ pass is again tipped, but again to Abbrederis, who steps out of bounds with an 11-yard reception. Josh Mauro is noticeably lagging in pass rush on the next snap as Phillips has time to survey the scene and scramble for 38 down the right sideline. Mauro does bounce back the very next play, dropping White for no gain at the Cardinal 22 with 1:06 left.
After Wisconsin’s first timeout, Phillips swings it to White, who gets out of bounds at the Stanford 16, resulting in a third and four with 1:01 to go. Wisconsin looks Stanford-esque, shifting three big bodies left to right pre-snap, before yet another deflected pass finds a Badger receiver for a fresh set of downs. This time, a would-be interception goes through A.J. Tarpley’s hands and instead into the breadbasket of tight end Sam Arneson for first and goal at the seven with 54 seconds left. After two Ball runs gain three yards, Wisconsin takes its final timeout of the half with 24 seconds to go. Phillips rolls to his left on the money down and then rifles an impressive touchdown strike to Jordan Fredrick. Phillips is 7-of-8 for 68 yards and a touchdown. Three of those passes were tipped, but still, I take back all the snark.
Stanford 17, Wisconsin 14, 19 seconds left in the second quarter
A handoff to Taylor for four brings us to halftime, and we have a game all of a sudden. Williamson’s field goal is the difference through 30 in Pasadena.
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