For the third consecutive week Wisconsin found themselves struggling against a lesser opponent. The Badgers squeaked out a 16-14 win over Utah State Saturday night, in a game that probably should have gone the other way.
O'Brien was benched after halftime in favor of Joel Stave.
Utah State had possession on Wisconsin's 15-yard line with seconds on the clock. After an offensive pass interference call pushed the Aggies back to the 30-yard line, Utah State was forced to attempt a 37-yard field goal later in the drive.
Wisconsin's fortunes should have looked a lot different, but fortunately for the Badgers, the kicked sailed wide right.
"Very excited to get a win," Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema said following tonight's game. "I knew that they maybe didn't play as well as they could in certain phases. But I also know it's very hard to get a win.
"A lot of credit goes to Utah State. I think that's a very good football team that obviously beat and has hung tight with all these other people, all the things we kept hearing about. So we were able to get a win. I think it should feel good."
The Badgers got off to yet another slow start Saturday night. Wisconsin fell behind 14-3 at the end of the first half. The first half deficit prompted Bielema to make a change at quarterback.
Junior Danny O'Brien was 5-10 passing for 63 yards and never really established much momentum offensively. O'Brien also lost a fumble, which led to the Aggies' second touchdown.
"For us to win at Wisconsin, we can't turn the ball over," Bielema said of the change. "And obviously the interception got nullified because of the late hit on Danny. So that was one that we kind of got back as a bonus.
"Then that last, right before the half, the ball just keep your hands a lot of traffic in there. He's holding on with one hand and the ball went on the ground. That's when I talked it over with Coach Canada and the offensive coaches, we all felt good about making the transition."
Doe's punt return changed Wisconsin's fortunes.
With the energy sucked out of Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin got the biggest play of the game, from the smallest player on the field.
Sophomore Wide Receiver Kenzel Doe returned a punt 82 yards for the touchdown, cutting Utah State's lead to 14-10 with 7:06.
"It was punt safe," Doe explained. "It's more than likely going to be a fair catch, just because we don't have an actual punt return team on the field.
"I saw he kicked a line drive. I looked to see if anybody was on the side. The defense just turned around and started blocking for me.
"I saw the punt trying to angle me, so I just cut against him, because I knew he wasn't going to be able to transition and catch me."
Wisconsin would get a three and out from their defense, which played exceptionally well all night. The Badgers scored on their very next possession.
Senior Running Back Montee Ball carried the ball on each of Wisconsin's six plays in the drive, eventually cashing in from 17 yards out.
"There's a huge difference," Ball said of the offensive line play. "A lot of improvement."
Ball's 17-yard touchdown put the Badgers on top for good.
Although Wisconsin had all of the momentum, the door would be left wide open for Utah State after the extra point attempt from Kyle French was blocked.
"We wouldn't have been in that situation if I had made the field goal from before and the extra point as well," said French. "It was definitely a tense moment at the end."
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how you win, only if you win.
"We're two and one," Ball stated. "Obviously not a perfect record, but we're two and one. It was an ugly win, but we got the win."